Home > Uncategorized > Day One Hundred and Fifty-four: Fitting

Day One Hundred and Fifty-four: Fitting

“Stand up straight.”

“I am standing up stra – OW!”

“Sorry. These pins get feisty sometimes.”

The tailor’s fitting room was brightly-lit by warm lamps that stood on tall brass stands, five of which were placed around a raised platform. Gilbert Mongomery was working on a pair of pants for his brother’s teenage son, Forrest. Every time the boy came in, he was a pain in the ass to fit. He’d fidget or he’d slouch, and he’d complain a blue streak. But he was his nephew, and without his brother’s help, Gilbert probably wouldn’t have even been able to keep the shop open as long as he’d had. So he put up with it.

“So what are you wearing these to?” he asked around the pins in his mouth. “Should be something nice.”

Forrest shrugged. “Some stupid dinner my dad’s having. He says we all have to be there and be a family.” He snorted. “At least for the cameras, anyway.”

Gilbert nodded. He knew all about Roland’s marital problems. At least one affair on both sides, some serious debts that needed to be paid to serious people, and arguments that had started on the day they met and had smoldered ever since then. They’d had three kids, hoping that each one would be the one that magically made their problems go away. What the kids did, however, was give them someone else to be angry about. As the youngest, Forrest was the recipient of their regret and disdain more often than not. At least until one of them thought they could buy their way into being a good parent. Thus, the party. There would be rich and famous guests of honor, a lavish dinner and entertainment and an open bar, and there would be press everywhere if Roland Montgomery had to pay each and every one of them.

It would be tempting to overcharge his brother for the suit, but he could never live with himself if he did. He figeted with the pants a bit and found himself asking, “What did my brother do this time?”

The boy looked down at him in surprise. “What?”

Gilbert shrugged to cover his own surprise. He had known his brother a long time, and known who he was and what he was. He didn’t like it, but there was no changing Roland. You could either live with him or ignore him, and as much as possible Gilbert had done the latter. If he had any problem with his brother, he’d take it right to him. Using the children had always felt unfair, but here he was, the words coming out of his mouth before he could take them back.

“What, you want me to pretend my brother is a paragon of virtue?” He stuck another pin into the waistband, making sure not to stick the boy this time, and tried to figure out what his own intentions were. “Okay,” he said. “How about this: you must be feeling so fortunate to be able to spend a lovely dinner with the man who makes your life possible.” He stood up and took the pins out of his mouth. “You miserable, disrespectful child.” He gestured to the pants. “Trousers off.”

Forrest gaped for a moment, and then started to unto the clasp. “Um, no,” he said. “You’re right.” He slid his trousers off and handed them to Gilbert. “He, um… He took a week-long trip to Thailand with one of his banker friends. Didn’t tell anyone he was going.” He looked decidedly uncomfortable as he talked. Whether is was being pantsless or trying to imagine what his father had been doing in Thailand, Gilbert didn’t want to imagine. “He came back and tried to act like nothing happened. The party is his way of making it up to mom.”

“That’s a shame,” Gilbert said. He inspected the trousers to see if he’d missed anything. “But not really surprising.”

The trousers looked fine. He folded them up and clipped them to a hanger. Then he took the boy’s jeans from where he’d dropped them. “Look, Forrest,” he said, turning to face him. “Normally I wouldn’t get involved.” He shook the jeans out and folded them as carefully as he had the trousers, and tried not to notice how Forrest was staring at them. “Your father has spent his life surrounded by people who think he’s the hottest thing ever, and for me to try and prove that he’s a selfish idiot would be a lot of work just to get me torn apart by his hangers-on.”

He handed the jeans to Forrest, who put them on quickly. Gilbert watched him get dressed. “How old are you now, Forrest?” he asked.

“Seventeen.”

Gilbert nodded. “Good.” He took a couple of steps up onto the fitting platform and pulled the measuring tape from around his shoulders. “Here’s a little advice from your uncle: there are a lot better role models out there than your father.” He started to roll up the tape. “He’s got money, yeah. He’s got a nice house and can afford to jaunt off to Thailand for… whatever it is he does there. But trust me, Forrest.” He reached out and tipped up the boy’s chin so that he could look him in the eyes. “I’ve known your dad for a long time. He’s not the man you want to be.”

Forrest took a big step back and nearly fell down the steps. “What the hell,” he yelled. His face had gone from confusion to anger in mere moments. “What the hell, uncle Gil?” He regained his footing and squared his shoulders. “You can’t say that kind of stuff about my dad!”

“Forrest, I just thought -”

“Yeah, you thought.” Forrest grabbed his jacket off the hook where he’d hung it. “I happen to know that my dad put up the money for this shop, so you owe him.” He sneered and tugged a knit cap out of the jacket. “Not surprised you don’t like him. You don’t like owing him, that’s all.”

“No, Forrest, that’s not it.”

“Really?” He yanked the cap down over his head and stormed out of the fitting room into the shop proper. Gilbert followed him out. “I don’t have to take advice from you,” Forrest yelled. “Not from some faggot tailor who couldn’t even get his own shit together to open a stupid shop.” Without looking back, Forrest stormed out the door, slamming it as he went. The little bells seemed to go on too long.

Gilbert stood in the doorway to the back room and felt deflated. He was right. No matter what the kid thought, he was right. And sooner or later, Forrest would realize it. Gilbert just hoped it would be sooner rather than later. He sighed and sat down behind his counter and put his head in his hands.

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