By: Naomi Loud
He was just sitting there, unabashed, his fur coat spilling over the sides of his tiny balcony chair, holding up an espresso cup in mid-air, legs crossed. Every so often he gave his coat a good snuggle, his neck nestling deeper within the fur, sipping his coffee in silence peppered with a few mumbles here and there.
She called him The Fur Coat Guy, ‘cause you know, duh. He would come out onto his balcony every day at 12:30pm. Well, she assumed it was every day but she couldn’t really testify to his daily habits on Sundays and Mondays since those were her days off. Beside the point. She worked as a hostess at the restaurant right in front of his building and every day at noon she would stand outside the doors of the restaurant and wait to solicit passers-by to “Please come eat here, you won’t regret it, I promise! We even offer a lunch special for 9.99$”! Yawn. She would mostly just stand there, alone, with her food menus in hand which she had read a thousand times. “Yes, the burger comes with cheese. No, our onion soup is not vegetarian.”
“Why the fuck the fur coat dude” she muttered to herself, “It’s not even cold out. You’re not even wearing pants for fuck sakes.” It was her midday obsession. She would silently judge every little detail about him and his barren balcony right to the way he held his stupid little espresso cup. “Geez, what a weirdo” she thought while tightly holding her menus over her chest.
He was actually naked under his fur coat. He trusted the fur coat. He loved the fur coat. He called the fur coat ‘Sir Charles the Third’ and stroked the coat like a loyal pet. Every morning he would wake up at 9am to the sounds of the news on the radio and would just lie still, staring at the ceiling until the morning headlines looped back to the very first piece of news he had heard earlier in the day. It usually took till 12pm to do that and he never paid attention to his fur coat until then. Sir Charles the Third’s personal time he called it. Fur coat guy’s real name was Marcus and he had one brother who lived very far away, a place called “The Hollywood”, according to Marcus. They never spoke, and his brother would never visit, but that was ok because Marcus had his fur coat and that was enough.
Sir Charles the Third was kept in the closet while Marcus slept which gave a few hours of privacy to both Marcus and Sir Charles. Marcus was the one who had put these regulations in place, more for Sir Charles than for himself. He didn’t want to come across as too needy. A problem he had experienced before with other humans, not with fur coats however, but he wasn’t going to ruin his chances either way. He often wondered if Sir Charles missed Marcus while he slept.
Marcus hadn’t figured out if fur coats slept or not yet. It was on his ‘to do’ list. “Look it up on the google” he thought to himself while he slid open the closet door. “Good morning Sir Charles the Third!” The closet was empty save for the fur coat and a dirty sock on the floor. “Did you hear the news today?” He paused and touched the right sleeve ever so slightly. “They’re saying that we’re having an Indian summer, can you believe that! I don’t know why summer belongs to the Indians in October but if the news say so!” He chuckled to himself and swung the coat off the hanger and with one practiced swoop, slid his arms into the sleeves and shrugged the coat into place. He breathed in, the lapels of the coat close to his face, tickling his ears and cheeks
He let Sir Charles fall into the place, wide open, while still standing in front of his closet, naked, with that one sock staring back at him. This morning was glorious already. He marched into the kitchen and continued his morning routine by meticulously preparing himself a cup of coffee with his battered espresso machine his brother had left him years ago.
It was almost 12:30pm. Time to sit outside on his small city balcony. Time to observe. Hugging his coat tightly with one hand, he sat down and took in the afternoon air. “There she is” he said softly to Sir Charles “The Food Menu Girl.”
Marcus had noticed her a while back. The way she held the menus made her seem very important and he wondered if she was the door’s guardian or something equally important to make her hold the menus that way. “Sir Charles and Marcus’s midday queries” he would call it. Lodged deep inside one of Sir Charles pockets were black oversized sunglasses. Circular in shape, they covered most of his face. He kept them nice and safe until the sun would ever so slightly creep onto his face. He tried never to squint, because that would give him wrinkles his brother had once told him. It was 1:15pm and the sun now shone in his eyes. He dug into his pocket and plopped the sunglasses onto his face and let a huge sigh. “I wonder what The Food Menu Girl is thinking about.”
“How fucking old is he?” she thought. He was one of those human specimen that could teeter between a used up 30 year old who clearly does or had done too many hard drugs OR, was a well preserved very late 40’s type of dude that drank water all day and refused to physically grow old but yet had stayed in the sun way too long in his twenties. “I wish I could see him without his fur coat, just once. Maybe I should have my smoke break near his balcony, say hi or something.” She paused “Ugh I hate social interaction. Why am I even a hostess? Geez” she mused as she rolled her eyes and took a deep breath. She hated small talk, and only endured it if she was paid to do so but his enigmatic presence was driving her crazy and she had nothing better to do really than to stare. She put a pin in it. “Maybe next week” she said to herself and turned her back to him and his fur coat.
Food Menu Girl, aka Caroline, had finally finished her shift. It was 7 o’clock and the sun was low. Checking her phone quickly for missed calls and texts, she hastily crossed the street and then stopped dead in her tracks as soon as she hit the sidewalk. “Wait… what the fuck… did I just get dumped?” Her relationship with her boyfriend had always been rocky but a voicemail breakup? Give me a fucking break! She let out a frustrated sigh and sat down on the curb to have another cigarette before her adrenaline made her do things she would regret, like, maybe punch a wall or something. Who knows.
As she sat there, she cried, hoping no one would really see what she was up to. “Um, ‘scuse me miss?” She heard from up above. “Are you alright?” She slowly turned her head upwards trying to find where the voice was coming from. “Oh my god it’s The Fur Coat Guy” she thought as she snapped her head back towards the street. “M-m-miss? Are you sure you’re ok?” “Fuck. Fuck. What do I do? Talk to him? Fuuuuuck.” She slowly stood up and flicked her cigarette into the gutter. “Oh hey” she replied, unsure where this conversation would end up. “I’m sorry, was I making too much noise? I didn’t realize your balcony door was still open.” She let out a nervous laugh. Only his head was poking out, like an anxious little hedgehog peeping out of his small dirty hole. “I see that you’re crying” he then stopped and stared at her.
“Good eye mister detective” she thought. She resisted her usual tactless comebacks and responded. “Ya, just a bad day, I’ll be fine” and gave him her biggest hostess smile. “Would you like an espresso? I was just about to make my 7:15pm espresso. I like espressos” he said as he walked out onto the balcony as a sign of a welcoming invitation and waited for her to answer.
“Duh” she thought “he’s still wearing his fur coat.” She appreciated the invite but talking to a strange dude while sipping tiny little espresso cups was not how she envisioned her break up night to ensue. There was a bottle of wine and a joint waiting for her at home. Ah the joys of being an introvert. Caroline politely declined Marcus’ invitation and headed home. Marcus stood on his balcony, delighted, while he watched Food Menu Girl walk away. He had finally talked to her. He hadn’t figured out how important her job was yet but all in due time, just as his brother used to say. He smiled to himself, walked back inside and shut the door.
Meanwhile Caroline was passed out by 11, with the bottle of wine empty and “Grey’s Anatomy” blaring on her computer.
Still sitting on the edge of the couch, sipping his 7:15pm espresso, he looked up at the clock and realized it was time for Sir Charles the Third’s favourite moment of the day. “Oh goodie!” He thought “about time!” He giggled and stood up. At the end of the hall was a closet, big enough to store a washing machine. Marcus didn’t own a washing machine; he preferred the comforting motion of a good hand wash anyways. He walked right up to the door and softly touched his lips to the wood. “Marsha?” He tap tap tapped his index finger on the door. “It’s time for Sir Charles the Third’s nightly visit. Are you excited?” He paused, letting his arm drop against his side. “Marsha? I’m coming in Marsha. I hope you’re decent!” He opened the door and looked down. On the floor was a cage. A cage large enough to fill the whole space, designed for large breeds of dogs like German Shepherds or Great Danes.
Marcus crouched down and through the bars peered inside, “Marsha?” Her eyes were vacant. Huddled deep inside, she looked at Marcus and wiped the tears from her eyes which made the chains rattle. They were chafing her wrists but Marcus never took notice. After all she was Sir Charles’ play thing not his. She crawled out of the cage and stood up. She was weak, underfed and was only allowed to use the bathroom before the show commenced at exactly 8 o’clock every night.
He had nailed the window shut in the bathroom. Sir Charles had asked him too. She was his favourite and he would miss her dearly if she were to abandon him. Sir Charles would indeed
be devastated. Poor thing.
Marcus was waiting for Marsha in the living room. All the curtains had been pulled shut, a detail Marsha barely noticed anymore. She knew her cue by heart now. Marcus clapped with glee while she slowly picked up the fur coat from the chair and put it on. He was waiting patiently, sitting on the edge of the couch, nude, relishing Sir Charles’ special time with Marsha. “How does he feel?” he asked softly. Marsha had grown to understand that there was only one response to this question.
She was completely numb by now. She had been kept prisoner for a month already. It was the same circus every night. She had been victim of his violent outbursts before on her first night of captivity. She had been terrified and had no idea what this man wanted her to say or do with the fur coat. He had tried to rip his own hair out and left self-inflicted scratch marks on his cheeks, spitting in her face and screaming at her to tell the fur coat how it felt on her own skin.
By then the whole scenario had been rehearsed and understood, allowing her to dissociate for a while and just go through the motions. “Sir Charles feels very soft, h-he feels so good on my skin” she said as clearly as she could, while she slowly twirled in front of Marcus who was still clapping with delight. “Now tell him you love his company” he added. “I-I love Sir Charles the Third’s company” she swallowed. “He-he is a true friend to me.”
Marcus stood and slowly walked towards Marsha. He dragged his erection across the fur coat while he circled around her. She stood very still, knowing he never went further than that. She just had to bide her time until he locked her back into the cage with a piece a banana bread he had baked in the afternoon. He paused close to her ear. “Now what do we say?” She heard him slowly lick his lips, waiting for her to reply. “Thank you so much for your friendship Sir Charles, I-I am yours forever and always.” She exhaled. She heard the clock tick. “Good” he said softly “now off to bed you go.”
Caroline was running down the street, late as fuck since she had forgotten to put her alarm on before self-medicating and crying over reruns of Grey’s Anatomy. Finishing off her cigarette before barging inside, she looked up and saw Marcus sitting on his balcony table sporting his huge ass sunglasses and drinking his espresso. She couldn’t help but laugh. “Right on time” she thought. Spotting her from afar he stood up and waved to her, a massive smile on his face.
Caroline waved back, her reservations towards him slowly dwindling as she thought “Aw he’s just a huge geek. Maybe I will accept his invite next time.” She gave him an awkward thumbs-up as she stomped on her cigarette butt and walked inside the restaurant.