When you go through your boyfriend’s jacket pockets, you forfeit the right to freak out over what you find. But when Cecile found the little man, that’s just what she did. The jacket was sentimental to Marc, his old rowing team jacket, which he’d worn every day through senior year and not once since then. He’d never had it properly cleaned. Next week he would turn thirty, and while Cecile’s main gift was a set of golf clubs, she also planned to surprise him by sneaking the jacket down to that Filipino laundry where the lady gave her such good deals. Cecile knew that Marc, on principle, wouldn’t fork over the cash to dry-clean a jacket he hadn’t worn since high school, yet she felt you shouldn’t store dirty clothes with clean clothes; here was her chance to have her way while also doing Marc a birthday favour. Two birds, one stone. The jacket smelled like senior year gone stale, glands and sweat and boy, and she’d bugged him about it off and on for months. Cecile went through the pockets because she didn’t figure she’d find anything that would make her jealous, maybe a long-expired condom or a baseball card or whatever teenage boys carried around in their pockets. She didn’t figure on what she found. It was about the size of a golf ball but the wrong texture. A potato? She pulled it out, gasped, dropped it, laughed at herself. What the hell was that? She watched it bounce into the corner. Was it a dead mouse? She pushed aside a shoe box with the tip of her toe. It wasn’t a mouse. A mouse wouldn’t bounce.
The thing was brown and dry-looking, curled up, like a tiny armadillo. Did mice hibernate? In pockets? She knelt for a closer look, and she saw the little face. She gasped again and stood up and hopped out of the closet. Then she laughed again. Don’t be a dork, Cil. It’s just a toy. She’d known a guy in her dorm at the U who was really into computers and obscure movies, who kept a collection of ugly toys that you couldn’t play with and you weren’t even allowed to touch. Apparently they were expensive — rare, as he put it, like Ming vases or some stupid thing. Gross monsters from slasher flicks. She went back into the closet and knelt again and had another look. Is that what this was? A creepy toy? But Marc wasn’t into those things.
She picked up the little man and brought it into the light, into the big open living space with the giant windows and the loft, Marc’s space, the space he wouldn’t let her officially co-lease even though she slept there every night and showered there every morning and had a goddamn key. She brought it into the big open room and she looked at the little face, the little scrunched up human face, the bald little man. When sunlight hit the face, it frowned. She screamed and dropped the thing again and it bounced off, landed in one of Marc’s giant potted plants.
read the entire story in Pulp Literature Issue No. 2, Spring 2014.