The Coat
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Having lived the last few years in south Florida I hadn’t had much of a need for a coat, but when a job offer took me to Milwaukee, Wisconsin I soon found a very strong need for one. After paying for the move I didn’t have much money left, so I figured my best bet would be a thrift store. A second hand coat would keep me warm until I got a few paychecks under my belt.

You can’t even buy a coat in Florida, or at least they are hard to find. A light jacket maybe, but certainly not the heavy coat needed in the upper Midwest.  The very first store I entered in Milwaukee was full of them. After trying a few of them on I finally settled on a brown leather coat. The coat was lined with what appeared to be lamb’s wool and fit rather well as I checked myself out in the mirror. The twenty dollar price tag fit my wallet as well.

The job was great and I was acclimating to the weather nicely. Having been raised in Virginia I was used to the cold, so that wasn’t a problem. The apartment I had chosen was kind of small, but comfortable and affordable. It seemed like a good neighborhood and all of the necessities were within walking distance. There was a Grocery store, laundry mat and even a few bars all within a few blocks. The only problem was the eerie feeling I would get every time I would leave the apartment. I figured that would go away as I became more familiar with the surroundings.

I had never had a problem with sleepwalking or drinking to access, which is why I couldn’t explain the sudden blackouts I began experiencing. They usually didn’t last more than a few minutes, but still it was unsettling.  I would have no idea what had transpired during that lost time, but I always seemed to wake up, or come to, in or near a bar. Bourbon on the rocks was the drink that would be sitting in front of me if I had made it inside and ordered.

I am not at all gay, not that there is anything wrong with that, but as the blackouts lengthened I would find myself in gay bars talking to men that would at the very least be considered feminine. This was, for me, the worst part of it until it started getting even more bizarre.

If I had only known at the time what was causing it I would have stopped it before it became criminal. At that time I had no idea, so I thought maybe a shrink could help me figure out what was happening. All he could come up with was that I had a thing for my mother.  I knew that wasn’t true. Then he wanted to hypnotize me, but after what he had said about my mother I didn’t trust him and didn’t want to be helpless in his hands, so I declined. Maybe this would go away on its own.

When I came to on my couch in the arms of this little Asian dude that was all she wrote. I didn’t connect it at the time, but apparently he had removed my coat as we were making out, thank God. Who knows what I may have done had he not. I checked myself into the nearest mental institute, but after a month the shrink told me that I was mentally stable and that he could see no reason for the blackouts. The CAT scan was negative for tumors and he could find nothing else wrong. He gave me a prescription anyway, which I filled. Better safe than sorry I always say. I had not had one episode the entire time I was there and hoped it was over.

About a week went by and everything seemed fine, of course there had been a warm snap and the coat had not been needed, but then a cold front came through and before going out I put the damned thing on. That turned out to be the longest spell yet. I woke up on my couch feeling rather groggy and reached for the rolled up newspaper on the coffee table. From the date on the paper I realized it had been two days since I remembered anything. At least I was alone and it didn’t appear to have been anyone else there. There was only one glass on the coffee table and one plate in the sink, so I assumed I hadn’t done anything I would be sorry for.

There was a little spot of what appeared to be blood on the rug in the middle of the living room, but other than that everything seemed to be in place. I was feeling a little thirsty so I checked the fridge and poured a glass of tea. I opened the freezer to get a couple of ice cubes when I noticed these strange looking packages. They were wrapped in aluminum foil and inside plastic bags. I really didn’t want to look, but I had to.

I only had to open one to know what was likely in the rest. You guessed it; human body parts. The one I opened happened to be a hand and part of a forearm. I barely made it to the sink to keep from barfing all over the kitchen floor. It was the worst smelling vomit ever and I quickly realized why. There were chunks of human flesh, a recognizable knuckle and two fingernails mixed in with the greenish-yellow bile in my sink. What had I done?

I knew this had to stop, so I called the police and waited for them to come and pick me up. I was feeling chilled and reached for the coat. That was when I noticed it; the label of the coat had something written on it. The label was wrinkled, and the ink had faded from years of wear, which is why I hadn’t noticed it before. As I flattened it out and stretched it between my fingers I could make out what it said: Property of J. Dahmer.

“Can I help you?” asked the saleslady as Bill walked into the consignment and thrift shop.

“Yes ma’am. I’m looking for coat.”

“You’re in luck, sir we just got a few in yesterday. One is a brown-leather, fleece-lined, aviator style that I think will fit you perfectly. Right this way.”

The Coat – By James G. Kelly

16 Responses so far.

  1. Avatar of rachelle rachelle says:

    Holy hell that was awesome! Kinda naughty, definitely wicked. Great ending!! Brava!

  2. Avatar of Amit Amit says:

    you are right susan. its an awesome story.

  3. It wasn’t bad. But I’m having trouble believing that nobody would notice that little tag that indicated who the coat used to belong to. If someone did notice it, it wouldn’t be in a thrift store, that’s for sure.

    Just a minor gripe. I mean no offense by pointing it out. You’re not a bad writer.

  4. No problem Aaron. I appreciate these kinds of comments as well. I feel a certain amount of suspension of disbelief is necessary to most horror stories. If you think about it it’s even more unlikely that a coat would be possessed by a serial killer than the fact that someone would have overlooked the writing on a wrinkled tag. Thanks for reading and for commenting.

    • I’m willing to suspend by disbelief regarding the supernatural more than I’m willing to suspend the practical.

      Just what makes us different, I suppose. But above all things, I think ambiguity is what makes a horror story great. What I enjoyed about your story is not knowing whether the coat itself was possessed by Dahmer, or whether the coat was possessed by something else that made Dahmer do the killings in the first place, thus planting a seed much deeper in the story than just saying that Dahmer attached himself to a coat of all things.

      And I’m glad you took no offense to the gripe. That’s what separates pretentious failures from the greater breed of authors.

  5. Thanks for reading and commenting, Kelly. Much appreciated.

  6. Avatar of Lily Howlett Lily Howlett says:

    Whomever puts the adds on the page:
    I don’t think a coat ad was the most appropriate ad for this story…

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