"The Late Mr. Harvey"

Cowley Alumni (Vol. 8: 2019)

Mr. Harvey admired his 6’2”, 190-pound frame in the three full-length mirrors of The Gentry Shop. The high-class men’s store catered to the wealthy, powerful men who frequented their establishment.

Mr. Harvey wasn’t as well off or powerful as others he knew, but he made himself a promise that he would own one of the firm’s more expensive suits before he died. The tailor measured all the required portions of his body to make a suit perfectly…suited to Mr. Harvey.

“You are going to look fantastic, Mr. Harvey. Is there a special occasion coming up you wanted this fine suit for?” the tailor asked, as a lock of his grey hair slipped down on his wire rim glasses.

“Yes, as a matter of fact there is,” replied Mr. Harvey. He turned to see the profile of his image.

The tailor waited for the explanation, but none came.

“I have all the numbers I need, Mr. Harvey. If you’d like to wait in the clubroom, I’ll get right on this. It will take about an hour and then we can do the final fitting and see how you like it. Your joining our premiere men’s club entitles you to many amenities. Please enjoy a massage while you wait, have a cocktail of your choice and listen to your favorite music or watch your favorite tv channel.”

“I’ll do just that.” Mr. Harvey turned and left for the clubroom, through large double doors. The aroma of leather and wealth wafted through the room. Two men sat conversing at a small table, with coats, shirts and ties, but missing their slacks. Mr. Harvey briefly nodded as he strolled by, as if to acknowledge he was among his peers.

The hour passed quicker than expected. Mr. Harvey was relaxing in an expensive leather recliner watching Fox News, sipping on a 20-year old Scotch.  The tailor came to his side and summoned him to the fitting room again.

“Don this shirt, suit and tie, Mr. Harvey. Let me assist you with the jacket, and show you the man you aspire to be,” the tailor said with a smile.

“I’m already that man. The suit is only dressing. A façade to people who think you’re somebody when they see you in a three-thousand-dollar garment.”

“Yes, sir,” was all the tailor could muster. He’d never heard anyone talk that way before about his suits. They were usually full of praise and adulation for the way they made the customer look.

Mr. Harvey appeared before the mirror once more and dismissed the tailor’s attempts to help him with the jacket. He squared his shoulders, raised his chin, stared intently at the image in the mirror.

“This will do.”

“May I address the…”

“No! This will suffice.” His tired blue eyes glanced at his Rolex. “Tell me what I owe you for the suit and your alterations immediately so I can get out of here.”

“Yes, sir. One moment, please.” The tailor slinked to his anteroom and returned in a few moments with his Samsung tablet showing the suit’s description, alterations, club membership and sales tax. The total was $4,579.26. Mr. Harvey took the stylus and scribbled his name across the signature line at the bottom of the document in a flourish. He felt a slight pang in his heart as he did this.

“It’s been my pleasure to serve you this afternoon, Mr. Harvey. Please, come back anytime. We have many more selections that I’m sure would please you.” The tailor dipped his head slightly and gestured toward the exit.

“I doubt you’ll ever see me again.” Mr. Harvey strode out with deliberation, leaving a surprised tailor in his wake.

In fifteen minutes, Mr. Harvey arrived at Summerfield’s Funeral Home. It was precisely 4:55pm that 31st day of December. Mr. Harvey entered the gold tinted glass doors and angled toward viewing-room number three where he had prearranged to meet his lawyer, Lawrence Scofield. The smell of roses touched his nose.

“Right on time, Mr. Harvey,” Scofield said. “Here’s your last will and testament as you directed.” The document was turned to face Mr. Harvey on a leather-bound portfolio with pen at the ready. Mr. Harvey gritted his teeth as another pang hit his heart.

“Damn. I hope I make it.” Mr. Harvey gave the pen back to Mr. Scofield and proceeded to slip off his expensive Italian shoes and climb the polished walnut steps into the open coffin. The exertion, even with Mr. Scofield’s assistance, caused his heart to send another jolt through his body. Mr. Harvey settled in to the handmade African Mahogany coffin. The embellishments on the walls inside and out were to his design. Mr. Harvey rested his head on the satin pillow and checked his watch. It was 15 seconds before 5:00 PM. He closed his eyes and proceeded to die as the minute hand crossed the boundary into unending time.


The End