The jacket had been a gift from Mel’s sister. She looked all over for it, then remembered the bag she’d taken to the charity bin. Surely not.

When she got there clothes were scattered all around. She found the bag she’d used. But it was empty.

Disconsolate, she headed home. Half way down the Park St hill a flash of colour caught her eye. The jacket. The man wearing it was pushing an overloaded shopping trolley. Matted hair fell over the jacket’s fine cotton collar.

With a degree of trepidation she approached. ‘Excuse me.’

The man made a noise, part grunt, part snort.

‘Please,’ she went on. ‘I think that’s my —— I didn’t mean to give that jacket away.’

He smiled. Ran his hands proudly down the lapels. Grunted.

‘I was wondering if I might have left something in the pocket.’

The man stuffed a near-black fist into the pocket on the left then shook his head. He repeated on the right. A broad grin spread as he lifted a crumpled envelope and held it for her.

Mel glanced at Gavin’s handwriting and began to cry.

When she looked up the man was removing the jacket. ‘No,’ she said. ‘You keep it.’

He flashed a toothy grin.

‘It looks very smart on you. I have what I need.’

2011—Richard Holt / small stories about love (smallstoriesaboutlove.wordpress.com)

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