Last Laugh | S. D. Platt

 


Last Laugh

S. D. Platt

The Hate and Coat Award


“Is this a joke? What the hell is this?”

“It’s a jacket, sir”

“Yes, I can see that. Thank you, Mr. Lawyer, I see all those years of studying went to good use.”

George stood in the cramped lawyer’s office, surrounded by books, piles of paperwork, and ornately framed gilded certificates, holding the most disgusting piece of clothing he had ever laid eyes on. Beside him his wife, Susan, elbowed him sharply in the ribs.

“OW!” George yelled.

“Be nice to Mr Woodhouse,” She instructed. George rubbed his side and nodded. “Sorry, Mr Woodhouse but this is just a little hard to believe. After all I have done for my father, all of the medical care, all the time spent at the side of his bed, and this tattered garment is all he left me in his will.”

“Yes, I’m afraid so.”

“Bloody typical,” Spat George.

He held the jacket in front of him between the tips of two fingers like a stinky diaper. “He never liked me, he was always too busy with his work and his deadlines to give a crap. I’d go to him for help with my homework but he’d always have a meeting or say ‘too busy Georgie, I’ve got a deadline.’ Deadline, deadline, deadline, that’s all it ever was with him. Now he’s dead,” George scoffed coldly, “That’s the last deadline he’ll ever meet.”

“George!” Susan scolded and elbowed him in the ribs again. “I know your father just died but there’s no need to be so heartless. I’m so sorry, Mr. Woodhouse, he’s not normally like this.”

Woodhouse nodded and waved the comment away. “It’s quite alright, grief is a powerful drug.”

“Grief?” Said George, “Grief doesn’t even begin to cover it. I loved that man but I’m not sure that went both ways. I thought one day when he got older and softened a bit he might show it, but it’s too late for that now. As a kid, most of the time he was too busy, but on the odd occasion when he had a sliver of spare time, he spent it joking around and teasing me. He treated me more like a friend from the pub than a son.”

George let the jacket drop to the ground, it collapsed into a heap and he threw an awkward kick at it. “Take this jacket for example. I’ve never seen him wear it, how long has he had it? Did he wear it often? I wouldn’t have a clue. That’s how close we were.”

“It obviously meant a lot to him, Georgie. Maybe that’s why he left it to you, maybe he thought you would appreciate it,” Susan said.

“Doubt it,” George said coldly. “One thing he did know was how much I loved that car of his, that old Ford Mustang. Driving in that car with him is probably the happiest times we spent together, it’s a memory I’ve played over and over for the last few weeks, but it obviously had no effect on him.”

George leaned over with a groan and collected the heap from the floor, he examined the multicoloured tweed monstrosity and tutted. “I can’t picture him wearing this. It even looks 2 sizes too big for him.”

He handed the jacket to his wife and she folded it over her arm. “Don’t lose that, Sue. Don’t want to lose a valuable family heirloom like that.” Susan shook her head.

“Well, Mr Woodhouse if there isn’t anything else I think me and my new jacket will be on our way.”

“Actually, there is,” Woodhouse replied. “There’s also a small request in the will which I hope you’ll consider.”

“Oh? And what is that?” George asked. Woodhouse shuffled his paperwork and located the correct page. “George Senior has requested a photo of you in his favourite jacket so that I may be able to present it to his wife, your mother, as a keepsake.”

George sighed deeply. “Seriously?”

“I’m afraid so, sir,” Woodhouse said.

“Fine. Only because it’s for Mum.”

George took the jacket from Susan’s arm, swung it around onto him and adjusted it so that it sat flat.

“My god, it’s not even comfy. If you thought it looked bad, you should wear it. I think it feels worse than it looks.”

George adjusted the jacket some more and put his hands into the pockets. He stopped fidgeting with the jacket when he felt a small firm object in one of the pockets.

He removed the object and saw it was a small key with the familiar Ford logo emblazoned into the plastic handle, attached to the handle with a little tuft of string was a paper tag which read ‘I love you, Georgie’.

George’s hand shook as he turned the key over, he looked at Woodhouse who had a large smile on his face. “Is this?” George asked.

“Yes, it is.” Said Woodhouse

“But,” George started then smiled. “That old bastard. Had to have one last laugh didn’t he?” George laughed heartily. “Is this even his jacket?”

“No, sir. He gave me strict instructions to buy the worst jacket I could possibly find, he told me to shop in the women’s section if necessary.”

George laughed himself to tears and, for the first time since George Senior had passed, he missed him dearly.

“Well, dear, let’s go.” George motioned towards the door.

“Aren’t you going to leave the jacket?” Susan asked.

“You mean my new driving jacket. I don’t think so.”

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