A Coat Full Of Pockets

 

He was a man with a coat full of pockets.

He was a man with everything.

He could sell you anything, for a bargain, a trade, a price. The lonely flocked to him to buy a vial of warmth, the lost reached out for a parchment of directions, and the woeful shuffled close to buy themselves an unbroken heart. From him the rich filled their coffers with wealth more than copper, silver and gold; to him the oppressed cried out for a candle of hope, and a jar of freedom.

Rumors flew.

People said he had things, many wonderful, unusual things, both delightful and wretched, both angelic and wicked. In his lowest, right pocket, they whispered, just above the hem of the coat, lies a single, glimmering jewel, capable of throwing light in any form of darkness, never dimming, never fading. In the highest pocket just below his collar bone, some hissed, was an ancient, antique ornament, a snake made of bronze, its tail curling around itself until it met the inside of its mouth. With a price of one thousand gold coins you could purchase that snake for your own, and when the night of the full moon came, place it on the door of your most sworn enemy. Chant the incantation and the snake would come alive, slithering under the crack of the door and disappearing inside the house. Before the next full moon arose your archenemy would have descended into complete madness, insanity turning his mind inside out, reducing him to nothing but utter ruin. And then, they continued, there was that silver necklace he wore around his neck, holding a pendant, which was the very elixir of life itself. No one knew the price for that.

He was a man with everything, and everything in his pockets.

He wandered the world, silent and watching, leaving not a trace. No footstep on the dusty road, nor a stray belonging left behind. Only the needy can see him; to the contented he is invisible, a whisper of a breeze on the cheek, noted and quickly forgotten.

The man with the world in his pockets.

As evening dawned he found himself at yet another little town, the name of it joining the multitude of others lying in the dust of his memories. He made yet another trade and watched, mute, as the haggard wrinkles of his newest customer slowly peeled back into firm straight lines, watched the corner of her down-turned lips lifted, slightly, and then some, watched relief engulfed the woman as tears pooled in her pale blue eyes. Her husband was much less restrained, picking her up and twirling her around, laughing, a sound rich and sonorous. Two pairs of hands clasped her belly, caressing, gentle and protective. Already he was forgotten, subsiding back into the shadows, though he was standing there in plain sight, watching the beginnings of a new life in the old world.

He was needed, not wanted.

He went where need went.

And when need vanished – he did too.

He was the man with everything.

He sat down at the bar, and ordered himself a glass of rum. Today he was lucky, today the bartender noticed him and took his order. Perhaps the man had something he desired but as of yet not know?

He would wait.

They would come.

They always do.

He gulped down his beer, his coat wrapped tightly around him, the many items nestled in his many pockets, dormant but awake, waiting for their turn to be let loose in the world. He gulped down his beer, alone and unseen, ignored and unnoticed, his posture strangely melancholic as he sat by himself in a crowd.

He was a man with a coat full of pockets.

He was a man with everything.

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