[I’ll take the suit, 1,265 words, Genre: Horror]
* Image courtesy of Dirk de Bruyn
It was about 4pm when he finally found the shop, not yet evening and well past noon. That time, neither here nor there that could not be ascribed to either one. He had heard about the shop through the grapevine and at that it had piqued his interest. For his interest was in the obscure; artefacts of time forgotten. When he entered the store it had the smell of age upon it. Musk and mildew, perhaps it was the carpet rotting beneath his feet or the items that lined the wall. Either way, by smell that he could tell that he found something authentic.
He tried to grasp from his memories where he had heard of the shop. Was it beneath empty cups and the local bars he frequented, a rumour pulled out of a drunk’s quest to turn the conversation topic from the dull and mundane? No, that was not it. His friendship circles? They were of the hipster variety and, like he, had a taste for the obscure and estranged. That was not it either. He remembered walking into the shop before, guiding himself through various alleyways to find the destination beneath a row of buildings, hidden and out of sight. But where did he remember that? And then the thought struck him. His dream last night. In his dream he had wandered into this shop in quest of items rare and unique. That’s a hell of a way of advertising if it was. He imagined dark shamans gathered around a pentagram complete with their advertising brochures, casting the text into the realms of the collective unconscious, to be picked up by those who inhabited the conscious space of neither here nor there. It was their direct market after all, a specific market that could only be lured by dreams and fantasies of a particular taste.
He was in the shop now and he looked around the walls, seeing all sorts of things. From pendants for necklaces to porcelain dolls. There was a man at the front counter, time was he would have been reading a magazine, given the present he was scrolling through an internet website, smoking a cigarette and muttering to himself. He looked to the article that the store clerk was reading; ‘How to think outside of the box with your investment opportunities,’ from the website Port Phillip Publishing. “Thinking outside of the box? I could teach them a thing or two about how to think outside of the box,” the clerk muttered. He, the customer, thought about it. Every arsehole that walked in off the street would try and make that claim, that ‘I’m the one. I’m the one.’ They proclaim an air of confidence and the air of confidence eventually gets them in the door only for the company to later on down the track realise that they had hired a confidence man. Most people are full of shit, but perhaps that’s what they wanted all along, a confidence man. He looked at the clerk and attempted to weigh his personality, was he just another confidence man? All sales people are to a certain extent, but to work in a shop like this he truly had to believe in the product. Working in a shop like this he probably could teach people a thing or two about thinking outside the box.
And so he looked around the shop some more until his vision fell down upon a suit. He needed a suit, but what sort of suit would find a home in a shop like this? So he called the clerk over, “Excuse me, sir, sir.”
The clerk grumbled some more and got out from behind his computer and walked on over with cigarette in hand, “Yes?”
“What is this?”
“It’s a suit.”
“Yes, I know that, I can see that. But what sort of suit is it?” The customer was somewhat frustrated, but still his intrigue furthered him on to unravel the mystery of the suit.
“Well, it was the last suit the author H.P Lovecraft wore, the only suit he ever wore.” The clerk ashed his cigarette to the mouldy carpet floor and continued, “It’s cursed for sure. I wouldn’t wear the thing. There is no contract of sale on the thing. Just a rental contract. You own it till the day you die. From which it is dug out of your grave and returned to the shop. And if you ever wear the thing I’m not sure you can take it off. If you have a look at old interviews of H.P Lovecraft, that’s the suit that he’s wearing, the suit that he always wears.”
“Apart from being a dead man’s suit, does it do anything else?”
“I told you it was cursed, didn’t I!?” The clerk directed his frustration towards the customer due to that the years had weighed heavily upon him in business. Being in such a line of business it was rare that people understood what he was on about, they usually branded him insane and a paranoid schizophrenic and left it at that. The clerk took a puff of his cigarette to cool his nerves and continued, “If you have a look at any of the writing of H.P Lovecraft you will see the curse in effect. Throughout his years he became increasingly delusional and was in a perpetual state of ill health. In his writing, he emphasized the absolute insignificance of humanity and its ignorance of the forces governing an incomprehensible and terrifying universe. The suit and its curse were behind that, helping mould that world view. It opened up portals of thought that gave access to the knowledge of the Old Ones. Those primordial forces that govern the universe. With that suit you could learn about a lot of things. But to hell with that for me! I understand why some things named forbidden ought to be treated as forbidden.” The clerk blew out rings of smoke from his cigarette and then took another puff, “Some people think that he read a book somewhere along the line. Found an actual authentic copy of the Necronomicon that he raves about in his literature. I know different. It was the suit, always the suit.” And that’s when the clerk finished his cigarette and explanation. He walked back around to his desk and back behind the computer.
The customer thought about it. Access to knowledge was always a temptation, since Adam and Eve and the tale of the serpent it had been that way. But what sort of knowledge would this give him access to? Lovecraft was described in different ways by different types of people. Some would call him a madman, others a genius. How close those two lay? You could not become a genius through the struggle and ambition of driving yourself a little bit insane. And you could not become mad without a hint of genius to concoct a fantasy and delusion able to send you insane. But this suit, this suit was something else. A portal to another world: a whole new level of understanding the universe and the forces that controlled it. Forbidden like cookies before dinner time. But one could not resist the temptation to spoil one’s appetite. Especially when the temptation was so great. They say that with every suit that you buy you are selling another part of your soul away, giving way to superficiality and a matured sense of corporate greed. This suit, if anything, would be more so the case. The customer called out to the store clerk, “I’ll take the suit!”