Short Story: Old Hat / by Benjamin Power
Before setting off for Colorado’s ill fated ‘rescue mission’, Ali asked me to bring him back a present. He asked me to buy him, with my own money, some type of extravagant animal pelt, to add to his collection of elemental protection devices flayed from dead rare exotic wild creatures and scattered tastefully around his Docklands penthouse flat.
This would not have got through customs, for good reason. Disregarding the ironic ambiguities of that last sentence, knowing what did occur in DIA, and just what hellish cargo I did shift back with clandestine psychotic glee – don’t worry, it’s none of your business – let's just say that so far the whole idea insulted me somewhat as I know what he's like.
I said “no, you fell bastard, you provide the money, and I'll pick another gift”. He had no ideas.
I suggested a fedora. Synthetic, probably. He said “what's that?”
“A cowboy hat, Ali. You know, just like Eli Wallach or one of The Wombles”.
He begrudgingly gave me £150. I asked him what sort, what style, what colour, and anything else I could think of but he said he didn't really care. He looked at me suspiciously. He thought I would rip him off. I did not intend to. But I know Ali very well.
I went off and had a marvellous holiday, where I achieved every last itinerary quest of the glorious small-time Americana-dream I’d been anticipating for quite some while (bar being mangled silly on possum moonshine, dressed in a timber wolf costume, and chased through an abandoned mine by a herd of rabid wild pigs, or offloading a Gatling gun at the Moon from the back of a horse-drawn Chevrolet 3100 – but I suppose I can save these humble potentials for next time I trek out there, provided that insouciant dictator-in-the-making David Hogg and his wretched brigade of power-hungry agit-tyrants don’t goose-step in in the meantime and set a Flammenwerfer to all my ambitions). Anyhow, in the end I also picked up a hat that was affordable but that I think looks cool and idiosyncratic. This left about £120 change.
Knowing I had over £200 spare in my account for when I got back, I coyly decided to live up to Ali’s cynical expectations, so spent the rest of his money on entertaining kind friends, my somewhat set-upon girlfriend, the beautifully sardonic (yet effective) ex-military folk next door in the trailer lot, a homeless Scotsman in central Denver, and a few choice ringleaders from the jovial meth lab across the street. Interesting times.
When I got back yesterday I heard that, despite informing him before I left that I was going on holiday, he still phoned up my parents the day after and bothered them with questions as to where I was and what I was up to. He insinuated that I had not left the country at all.
Either way, taken as an implication that I was lying to him, or equally, taken as a way for him to find out more information about a distinctly private holiday I was on, this behaviour insulted me again.
One might consider this behaviour to be interfering like a deceitful little weaselly turd and I have asked him many times before not to do that sort of thing.
I used a small amount of my own money to purchase a needle and thread. His payback money is now in my account ready to be converted into dollars.
His payback money will be sown inside the hat itself. A US receipt stapled to the outside will mask the stitching but provide a clue as to how much the hat is worth. He did not have any taste specifications so he should not mind as this would indicate that it was cost alone that interests him since he did not know what the damn thing was in the first place.
This may teach him to look after and pay attention to property, and buy things he actually wants. If he does not pay any attention to it and subsequently loses or disregards it through neglect then the money is wasted.
The hat will indeed contain his payback.
I don't think he will understand this, but I have done everything he asked, and given him a present that can satisfy me, him and the universe equally. Welcome to Game Theory, Ben style
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