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by Paperback 

Posted: 31 March 2004
Word Count: 972
Summary: 'E' is now here. Shorter, better than the last two. Any help, praise, advice, damnation; i'll take 'em all.

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Eddie had fallen in love with his hat from the very first moment he’d seen it. Hanging limply in the shop window and striped brightly with all the primary colours we had ever known, the attached price suited him nicely.
And what, with us being on an organised trip miles away from home and all we weren’t sure when we’d next be back, so Eddie headed straight into the shop and bought it right there, that very minute.
“You can’t let a bargain like that pass you by,” Eddie had said as he stepped back outside to join me on the street.
The hat had been placed into an undersized paper bag which Eddie held tightly and, with a smile creasing up his face, his pleasure was hard to deny.

As we sat on the coach that was there to take us home, Eddie took out his new hat and placed it on his head. It was made of wool and seemed to have been handmade, probably as part of a limited run.
To be honest, at the time I wasn’t sure if it really suited him, or even if he was the right type of person to be wearing such a hat. It was one of those oversized hat’s, you see, the type that sits tightly around the diameter of the head but then bulges out into all types of curves and spaces as it spreads further away from the base. It seemed to be similar to those hats that black musicians like to wear who, along with those rich white people who like to sit in trees and disrupt roads being built, have that long, twisted, smelly hair perfect for filling out larger spaces.
Unfortunately for Eddie he wasn’t equipped with such a head of hair. That’s not to say that he was bald but rather that he had only a set of normal length hair that really, was nothing extraordinary. And that this average hair was formed into such a style that lacked the required volume to fill out such a spacious hat, well, it seemed to only increase the randomness of it all.
During those first few hours, as we whiled away the time waiting for our coach to leave, it began to seem particularly obvious to me that really, that hat wasn’t all that suitable for Eddie after all. It was just there, serving no purpose and looking daft, I couldn’t help it when the colours kept catching my eye.
Red, blue, yellow and green. With all the obvious ones joined by a lilac, I knew that just like me, people would be able to do nothing but stare.

As our ruddy faced, fellow passengers joined us on the coach, I was proved right. Eddie didn’t seem to notice their repressed laughter and comedic eyes following his every movement. He didn’t seem to realise that they were all just sat there, anxiously waiting for him to announce that it was all, just in fact, a contemporary joke and that the cold air blowers that sat above their heads were really hidden cameras. Instead though, Eddie just kept on turning to his hat wearing image reflected in the coach’s dirty window and, using his hands, he sort of fluffed-up the hat that hung loosely from his head. It was an effort to try and get some air inside but the hat would only stay inflated for a few seconds before losing any will and flumping, deflated and natural, back onto Eddie’s shoulders.
“It doesn’t matter,” said Eddie. “It’s the colours. That’s what I like the best”.

As it tends to, time went on and over the years everyone in our small town got used to Eddie’s woolly hat. They had to. With scant regard for public acceptance there wasn’t a single day when Eddie hadn’t worn that long piece of multi-coloured wool. Just like the colours on that hat, the shop-keepers stares and the old people’s glances gradually faded out and it was left to the few visitors and tourists who passed through our home to look on curiously and question why such a person would wear such a garment.

It was unfortunate for Eddie that just as this grudging acceptance had grown into happy regularity, he lost his life. He wasn’t old and it wasn’t some kind of soap opera accident, it just happened as he slept, gently and easily. Just like Eddie himself.
The distant relatives who showed up at the funeral looking for any signs of re-numerate wealth betrayed their pretend tears when, on looking into Eddie’s open casket, they gasped at such a hideous, funny, hat.
I’d asked the mortician to place it on his head when he’d finished about his business and, being a local man, he knew how to fit it just so.
“It’s what he would have wanted,” I told the second cousins and birth-right inheritors, as they shook their heads and walked away from the coffin.
“Really, he loved that hat more than anything else in this world.”
These strangers stayed only long enough to determine that the money they had already frittered away on dead-cert investments and fancy retirement condominiums had never really been there. Some of them shook my hand before they left but most just walked away, their heads bowed in an effort to hide the real tears now falling down their worried faces.
As I stood there in that room with only sadness, Eddie, and his hat, I could already hear the frantic excuses being fed to speed dialled accountants and overly made-up spouses. It made me smile as I leant over the casket for one final time and pulled down the top of Eddie’s hat, covering his eyes.
“It’s the colours,” I said to my cold, dead, friend.
“That’s what you liked the best."

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Comments by other Members

Becca at 18:04 on 31 March 2004  Report this post
Hi Matthew,
This is a charming story, The character Eddie is interesting. I'd imagined him to be an old man otherwise the relatives wouldn't have expected anything, if I'm right then there wouldn't be a need to give an indication of his age. If I'm off target, then some idea of his age would have helped to form a mental image of him.
I know the story is about his love of the hat, but some more detail about him, perhaps his other eccentricities, would have filled out the picture and given the story a tad more depth.
I quite like the vagueness about his relationship with the narrator though.
It's one of those stories that I'd see as a collection, perhaps about Eddie himself, or about other people living in the street, the village, town, whatever. Had you considered something like that?
I loved the way the hat wouldn't obey him because he didn't have Rasta hair, or as you so beautifully describe it, that smelly twisted hair,.. it's always a mouse brown colour isn't it?
I think you could add some fuel to this story, pull it up a notch or two. One way of doing that would be to have Eddie speaking a bit more than he does, although I do also like sparce dialogue.
The quote marks and full stop is missing in the end sentence.

Nell at 07:08 on 01 April 2004  Report this post
Hi Matthew. A gentle story and an unusual angle. Like Becca I'd have liked to know Eddie a little better, and this piece is begging for a collection of related stories to accompany it. Loved the idea of the relatives crying real tears after the will was read. A small typo for you: It was one of those oversized hat’s (hats)

Looking forward to more,

Best, Nell.

roger at 07:35 on 01 April 2004  Report this post
Hi PB. I noticed a few misplaced commas and a semi-colon that shouldn't be there, but that's very minor stuff, easily dealt with. As Becca says, this is a charming little piece that leaves you wondering about Eddie, and as Nell says, it's begging out to be part of a collection - titled 'snapshots', perhaps? Nicely written in your own voice, touching and a pleasure to read. Great stuff.

Paperback at 08:41 on 01 April 2004  Report this post
Hi guys,
Thanks for the comments. I have mentioned in other postings that grammer really isn't one of my strong points. I'm off to town to buy a GCSE revision book right now. I'm presuming this may help me somewhat. In terms of sitting this story in a colection of others, i have mentioned elsewhere that i am looking to form an anthology of 26 stories. Each chapter will follow through the alphabet, a thru z. See? Maybe now things might make a little more sense and the criticsm i recieved for the 'D' chapter will seem like it wasn't needed. Anyway, we'll see. Oh, and i hope you'll all follow me right thru to the bitter, twisted end of it all.



Becca at 15:17 on 01 April 2004  Report this post
I bet we will do, Matt. Did I miss that you were compiling an anthology? I must have, I see at the top you say here's 'E'. Now I know what it means.

ShayBoston at 17:16 on 17 April 2004  Report this post
Hmm, I'm struggling now. It's like a parade of misfits, a freak show and I can't see past that. It may be me, but I can't see where your market would be. I can see them possibly working for me as short films.

Sorry to be negative (it's not a reflection on your ability as a writer).


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