His name really wasn’t Ron David, but when I met him in Dallas, he worked as D.J. on the local rock station, which insisted that each D.J. be named David. So Ron McCoy became Ron David McCoy. I visited his control room while he spun chatter and platters with a rapid-fire style I found amazing. Good-humored, a skinny guy with Elvis hair, and a baby-doll wife, a real looker.
The McCoys were fun, too. But I was shivering.
The wind whistled up Carnaby Street, and I’d come with no coat. The girls were bundled up, and Ron David had a long trench coat which reminded me of one I’d bought at Midwestern University, years ago, charcoal-black with a subtle gold-brown check, lined, with deep pockets. I’d thought it made me look very much like Holden Caulfield.
I’d got it muddied almost at once, and thought it ruined, but took it to Ray Moore’s Cleaners in Henrietta. Ray had dry cleaned for my family all my life. Back came the trench coat, perfect. You’d think it new except for the tiny tag of cloth pinned inside with my name. I think about all the clothes over all those years, and wonder how many tiny tags Ray had made for my family, for all the families in our town. Somewhere today, in a back closet, in a junk yard, I imagine an old garment long forgotten, still with the faded tag of cloth fluttering to tell the world my name.
Me and that trench coat had travelled many miles. I wished I had it now, because I was chilling to the bone. I looked enviously at Ron David. I tried to walk faster.
The three of them were laughing and telling stories, but I was trying to remember. My trench coat should be in the house in East Grinstead, but I didn’t think so. I knew I’d brought it from Texas to St. Louis because I remember Sam putting me up for a few days, and he’d borrowed it. And then I’d packed it up again and moved to the unheated house trailer off the end of the jet runway. I’d not worn it that winter: too cold for a trench coat.
But I couldn’t remember packing it for England. Maybe I’d finally lost it. Then I had a thought, and turned to Ron.
“That’s a nice coat,” I said.
“Thanks,” he said, looking down at it.
“Where did you get it?” I asked.
“Oh, I borrowed it from Sam,” he said. Aha!
“You know, Ron,” I said, “That’s my coat.”
“What are you talking about?” He stared. I nodded.
“I left it with Sam for safe-keeping,” I said, “You’re wearing my coat.” He looked indignant.
“I don’t see your name on it!” he said. Wrong answer.
“Open it up,” I said. He did.
Thank you, Ray Moore. There, near the hem, a tiny piece of cloth fluttered.
So nice to have my coat back! So nice of Ron David to bring it to me, all the way from St. Louis, and just when I needed it, too. So nice and warm, there on Carnaby street.