The jacket comes from Squaresville in Los Feliz. I must’ve bought it on a Sunday, the one day off we had together. Eventually. She worked at the coffee shops in Hollywood and the juice bar in Silver Lake. I opened Anthro at The Grove. We didn’t have a lot of scratch. Brunch, a beer out, the occasional movie. Six-packs and X-Files at the apartment.
She walks upstairs and I browse absentmindedly. Just looking. I find her at the metal shirts rack. Iron Maiden, The Trooper. Her exaggerated grin, the parody of her own excitement. She goes to try it on. I step toward the windows overlooking Vermont and flip through the hangers. Back of the hand and slide. Huh. Card suits. The padded shoulders don’t quite fit but that’s OK. The leather strains. The lining cool against my arms. Jack of hearts; jack of spades.
On the sidewalk the languid sun is speckled by ficus trees. It’s too hot for the jacket but I wear it anyway. She rubs my back. I put my hands in the pockets to complete the look and feel something through a hole in the left. “What the hell…” A stubbed Marb Light. Used to smoke Reds myself. I turn out the pocket, brush away the ash and we laugh it off.
I’d wear the jacket to shows, meeting up with friends alone. Strangers would say: “I like that jacket man” and “You play cards?” She grew to dislike its brazen language. We were at some strip mall bar with tinted windows and Edison bulbs, my back to the other tables. She glances past me. “They’re taking a picture of your jacket” she says indignantly. I never liked how people in LA stare but I say it’s whatever. Still she won’t let it go. As if I wasn’t hers. As if my image wasn’t hers.
The zipper has long been broken, the white tarnished, the nylon frayed. The left shoulder ripped by a low branch on West Grand in Oakland. Still I sport it sometimes. Recently, just home from work in San Francisco, I happen on a neighbor and his associates in the parking lot. They’re having some kind of meeting. I light a cigarette. “Where’d you get that jacket” one of them asks. “That jacket is dope.” I’m tired yet won’t sit in the patio chairs so I don’t dirty my khakis. I take a drag. “I got it in LA. LA’ll do that to ya’.” He hasn’t taken his eyes off me. “You look like you just came from LA” he replies. And half to himself in a reverie: “LA is swag.”