Cliff’s Rad Blazer

Standard
Digital drawing. A weatherman facing forward and standing slightly left of center before a screen showing a generic map. He has on a fancy-looking blazer patterned with sparkling stars and colorful nebulas. He holds his hands to the blazer’s button. His left eyebrow is arched. On the weather display, bottom right, a snow flurry is moving in. Top left, an overlay of temperatures. Top right, a cloud under which raindrops and cats and dogs are falling.

Sporting a magenta and lime blazer, Cliff Blazer gave his nightly weather report on the local news channel.  The screen before which he stood displaced animated clouds dripping over the landmasses representing the closest three counties. 

“Rain is in the forecast, folks, and a lots of it,” Cliff said. “It’s going to be raining cats and dogs, so don’t just bring your umbrellas, bring your treats, your toys, and your litter boxes.”

Cliff signed off, threw the broadcast back to the main anchors, and strode toward his office.  A little bit of paperwork and he was done for the day.

His boss’s assistant poked his head through the doorway. 

“Got another one for you, Cliff,” he said, and gestured to his left.

Cliff left the last of his work and walked over to the wardrobe room.  He spotted it right away.  He pulled the blazer off the hangar and held it up to the light.  Within the rich indigo base color, there shimmered thousands of sparkles.  They weren’t sparkling in the light either.  As he peered more closely at the fabric, he noted that the sparkles were pulsing as if with their own internal vitality, like real stars.

He grinned and swung the blazer around, slipping his arms through smoothly, and shrugging into his newest gift.  It fit like a dream.

***

Cliff’s full first name was Radcliff.  Given what his last name was, and given his affinity for fashionable outerwear, his fans and admirers liked to call him “Rad Blazer.”  And to follow through on the double entendre, they liked to send him…rad blazers.  Sometimes, not-so-rad.  He’d received a few “ugly” blazers for the holidays (and he’d worn them in lieu of a sweater for the work holiday party “ugly sweater contest.”)  He’d received a few steamy blazers accompanied by marriage proposals (despite the obvious ring on his finger).  On occasion, he even received something that was stylish, and that fit him properly.  His favorites were the handmade ones. 

Security always checked each blazer, of course, for any dangerous substances or devices.  And Cliff’s boss had warned him to get all blazers fully laundered and sterilized before wearing them, if he was going to be accepting those gifts, because…”you never know.”  So by the time a gift blazer made its ways to him, it had gotten separated from the original packaging.

Cliff had a lucky blazer (and an unlucky blazer, which he kept in his closet to ensure he “maintained the balance.”)  He had blazers for every reason, season, and setting.  Graduations, weddings, funerals, barmitvahs, quinceañeras, concerts, date nights, the beach, the forest.

And of course, he mixed it up when he gave his forecasts during the week.

His newest gift, while not as extravagant as others he’d received, was fairly dressy and looked great on Cliff.  He left it in his office and wore it the next morning when he made his forecast for the weekend.  They would be having a few days of chill weather.

“So be sure to bundle up, folks,” Cliff warned.  “You don’t want to end up like my Aunt Martha.  I’ve told you about her.  She loves to talk and she loves to be talked about, so she won’t mind my saying this.  But the last time we had some unexpected cold weather, she refused to listen to me.  Thought the sun would come right out and warm her up.  She spent all day outdoors in a ridiculously thin sweater, and refused to let anyone offer their coats to her.  Guess what?  She ended up getting sick.  Had the biggest frog in her throat.  And if you know my Aunt Martha, you know that not being able to talk for a few days was the greatest torment of her life.”

Cliff threw it back to the anchors, who chuckled and made some generic comment about “good old Aunt Martha,” before asking viewers to tune in that evening for their story about the latest household item that “could potentially kill you.”

By evening, however, the station had breaking news to report of an unusual occurrence at the local hospital. 

Cliff watched the broadcast of their onsite correspondent, standing some distance away from the hospital’s emergency entrance. 

“That’s right, Brody,” the correspondent said.  “So far, five people have come in complaining of difficulty breathing, and producing a strange croaking sound.  Now, they’re still being treated, and the hospital staff is hesitant to speculate on what could be causing this, but the reason we’re reporting on this is that one of the patients has been discharged and we spoke to them earlier.  They didn’t want to be on camera, but…”

Of course they didn’t want to be on camera.  What they had to say sounded preposterous. 

The patient had puked up a frog.  And based on the reports of other witnesses, at least some of the other people coming in with similar complaints had also coughed up an actual frog.  The frogs seemed to be none the worse for wear.  They were alive and kicking.  The hospital staff was swabbing them, cleaning them up, and corralling them.

The anchors gave Cliff some ribbing about his previous night’s comment about frogs in throats.  One of the witnesses even noted that all the frog-throated patients didn’t seem to be adequately dressed for the chill weather, as per Cliff’s warning.

Cliff laughed it off on the air.  But once he was off-camera, he let his expression show what he actually felt. 

“Terrible,” he said to his boss, who assured him that he bore no legal liability if someone had taken his words from the previous night’s forecast and decided to turn them into a prank.

Cliff sighed.  “I wasn’t even thinking about that.  I mean, I hope I don’t get sued.  But…but all those poor people.  And the poor frogs.”

“It’s fine, Cliff.  Everyone and everything is fine.  Which means this is just another cute story I can use to give you a hard time the next time you ask for a raise.”  She burst out in laughter for seconds.  Cliff hung on and counted down to himself.  But “see you Monday” was all she said. 

She wasn’t the only one who reassured Cliff that he wasn’t at fault for whatever it was that had happened at the hospital.  After a few pats on the back and “have a good weekend’s,” he did feel better.

***

Weekend weather was handled by another weathercaster. 

By Monday, after a weekend full of father-son antics, Cliff was refreshed and ready for work.  He perused his collection of blazers and noted a bright red one in his closet that he didn’t remember. 

His son entered the room.  “Dad, let’s go.  I need be early today.  They’re doing the thing.”  Saying “the thing” was James’s way of not jinxing his chances of making it into the big school play.  Roles were going to be posted fifteen minutes before classes started that day.

Cliff pulled the red blazer off the hanger.  “Do you remember this one?”

“Looks great, Dad.  Let’s go!”

“Huh, I think I may have way too many blazers now.  I’m starting to not be able to keep track.”  Cliff noted that the blazer’s inner lining looked like a star field.  It reminded him of the newest blazer he’d gotten.  He glanced around for it, but felt the mighty grip of his twelve-year-old around his arm. 

James laughed.  “You’ve got more blazers than all of Mom’s and my clothes combined.”  He started tugging and Cliff acquiesced.  He swung on the blazer as he scrambled down the stairs, reminding himself to grab his overcoat on his way out. 

But he the blazer felt warm and cozy against the chill morning.

***

At work, the news anchors gave Cliff another bout of ham-fisted ribbing on-air about the frogs in throats.  And Cliff gave another sincere apology to anyone who suffered discomfort.  All the people and the frogs were fine in the end.  One of the people even adopted the frog that he coughed up.  So “happy ending for that pair,” said the anchors. 

When it was time for his forecast, Cliff started feeling hot, really hot.  Not hot from embarrassment (or annoyance.)  He stood before a display of the forecast he was supposed to be giving.  Cold and rainy weather over the next several days.  But he found himself giving a difference prediction.

“Folks, I apologize for the slightly outdated graphic.  We will be looking at some cold, rainy days ahead.  But before that, over the next few days, we will actually be experiencing a freak heat wave moving through.  Temperatures will edge toward but won’t quite reach triple digits.”

One of the anchors interrupted.  “Cliff, are you sure about that?  It’s been awfully cold lately.”

Cliff felt a bead of sweat condense and drip from his temple down to his ear.  “I know it sounds strange, Brody, but we will be able to put away our coats and umbrellas for a couple of days.  Make sure you stay hydrated though, folks, and that you wear adequate footwear.  It’ll be hot enough to fry eggs on the pavement.”

“How hot will it be, Cliff?” the other anchor said, setting him up for another one.

Cliff grinned, cocked his head, and raised his brow at the camera.  “Hot enough to melt the wax in your uncle’s ears.”

Off camera, Cliff started to cool off.  He glanced up at the lighting and shook his head.  He was troubled about the forecast he’d just given.  Troubled that he was sure it was correct, even though the last data he’d seen indicated cold weather throughout the week.  Cliff checked a few parameters from a few of his sources, and saw a shift in wind and pressure patterns that did indeed indicate a coming heat wave.  But he hadn’t seen that data before he went on air.  And he had checked.

That night when he got home, James greeted him in the kitchen with one of the few dishes he was allowed to cook on his own.  Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. 

Cliff was about to ask if James had had a chance to call his mother.  It would be too late in her time zone now.

But his son’s eyes grew wide.  “Dad, your blazer.”  He grinned and dashed toward Cliff.  “How does it do that?” 

Cliff glanced down and watched as a wash of indigo with glittering sparkles spilled over the bright red.

He took the blazer off.  It looked like the new one he’d just received.  It was the new one he’d just received.  He let James examine it for switches or buttons that could account for the color shift effect. 

***

“You’re never gonna believe it folks…”

Cliff sighed as the midday news proceeded to report the phenomenon that he himself had witnessed just outside the studio doors.

Eggs.

On the pavement.

Frying.

Cliff sighed again as he waited for his boss to get off the other line.  She came back on already talking.  “…okay, yes, it’s a waste of eggs.  It’s obviously another prank.  And we may have something we need to keep an eye on, but Cliff, no one has gotten hurt.  There may be some strays who’ll have to watch their cholesterol over the next week or so.”  She burst out into laughter again.

“Okay, but let’s do that.  Let’s keep an eye on it,” Cliff said. 

By that evening, as Cliff had feared—because he remembered what else he’d said during the previous night’s forecast—the eggs were not the only unusual story of the day.

There was another strange medical mystery when several men reported to the local hospital, because their ears were leaking a strange fluid…which turned out to be wax.

All the men happened to be uncles.

And again, all of them were fine.  The station received calls from several other men with drippy ears who never reported to the hospital—all of them had seen Cliff’s forecast and knew what it was that was happening to them.  Cliff spoke to each of them, who were all good-natured and fairly unbothered by the whole affair.  And who all gave him some variation of “leave us uncles alone next time, eh?”

During the evening news, Cliff received yet more ribbing, and unnecessary advice to be cautious about choosing his words.  On a serious note, both he and the anchors also discussed how pranks could go too far.  If there were pranksters making Cliff’s colloquialisms comes true, then Cliff asked that they stop before someone actually got hurt.  Just to be safe, Cliff announced that he would only use direct language for that night’s forecast, and so he did. 

He hoped that the prankster’s stopped before the situation escalated.

When he got home that evening, he found an excited and agitated James waiting for him, holding a mop.

***

Cliff pointed to the mop as he pulled out his phone.  “Stand still.  I have to document this miraculous moment for your mother.”

“Dad, I have a lot to show you, and a lot to explain.”  James set aside the mop and grasped his father’s wrist.  “Promise not to freak out?”

Cliff narrowed his eyes.  “I don’t makes promises, son.  I make decisions…”

James sighed heavily.

“…and I have decided that I won’t freak out during or after your, uh, show-and-tell.”

James led his father up the stairs as he started explaining.  “I know I should have asked first, but you let me tinker with it last night, so when I got home, I tried on the blazer.  I thought if I could get the color-change thing to work, then I could wear it for the play.”

Cliff smiled.  “James, that’s great!  I forgot to ask—“

“But then this happened, and then, I started looking stuff up.”  James stopped before his room and opened it.

Cliff glanced inside and gaped.

James was typically fairly neat.  That is, he was assigned one corner of the room that he could keep cluttered.  The rest of the room was usually neat. 

What Cliff was now looking at was a room strewn with clothes.  Posters half-torn from the walls.  Toys spilled across the floor and desk—some of them appearing to be in pieces.  Books, pencils, pens, sneakers, all lay scattered at the room’s periphery.  The curtains were askew.  The chair was knocked over.  The mattress was half toppled off its frame. 

Cliff turned to his son.  “What happened?  It looks like a tornado whipped through here.” 

“That’s because one did,” James said with such sober sincerity that Cliff glanced back into the room.

“I’ll clean it up, Dad.  I promise.”  James started down the stairs.  “Before I explain how it happened, you have to see the kitchen.  Otherwise, you might not believe me.”

Cliff followed his son down the stairs, just as their cat dashed past them.

“Remember your decision,” James said.  He led Cliff to the kitchen.

Every surface was dripping or pooled with water.  A scorch mark tore along the wall above the stove. 

“Dad, sorry—“ 

“Are you okay?  Are you hurt?”  Cliff placed a gentle hand on his son’s shoulder and led him back from the kitchen, as if there was some danger still lurking in there.  He didn’t yet know what was going on, but that scorch mark looked…

James nodded.  “I’m okay.”

He proceeded to explain how his room and the kitchen had come to be in their current states. 

***

About an hour before Cliff got home, James was in his room, which looked somewhat messier than usual.   He wanted to do more investigation into his dad’s new blazer and its special effects, and was debating if he could get away with letting room-cleaning go for another day.  If it was just him and his mom alone for two weeks, he might have been able to let it go.  But when their cat hopped up onto a two-foot pile of laundry, James sighed. 

He picked her up and said to her, “Dad’ll say it looks like a tornado whipped through here.” 

James had the blazer on, and when the wind began to pick up and start lifting objects and whirling them around, he had just enough time to back out of the room and shut the door against the twister that tore through his room.

He ran downstairs, afraid the twister would grow bigger, ready to leave the house, and call for help.

But the by the time he got to the foot of the stairs, twister—from the sounds of it—had stopped.

James immediately suspected the blazer, because of what had happened with his dad.  Cliff had been wearing that same blazer—unknowingly the second time—when the things he said had come to pass.

So even after he heard the commotion in his room die down, and after he cracked open the door and saw the more extreme cleaning task ahead of him, James decided to do some research. 

He found enough information from a few hours of internet searching to have come up with his own conclusions.  He believed the blazer was sewn from what used to be a magician’s robe.  And it contained magic.  The color-changing was an outward manifestation of that magic.  Whoever was wearing it could wield that magic, but there seemed to be limits to the type of magic contained in the robe-turned-blazer.

James pulled up his notes from his laptop. “Weather magic—there’s a history.”

Cliff had learned to listen to his son when James was this excited about something.  The wild leaps in logic made sense for an imaginative and optimistic pre-teen.  There would be plenty of time for Cliff to help his son walk through the logic and reasonability of his conclusions.

James had found a legend about a magician who figured out how to capture and corral rainclouds.  He did it to help his people get through a drought or something, but it all went wrong.  Weather got disrupted.  James believed that his father’s new blazer must have been made from the cloak of a magician who mastered weather magic.  And that it couldn’t be a coincidence that it ended up with his dad. 

At some point, James recklessly attempted to summon a little rain while he was standing above the kitchen sink, focusing his attention, so that he would summon just a tiny cloud above the sink.  Clouds instead formed on the entire ceiling.  Lightning flashed within them, and thunder cracked so loud, James had to clap his hands to his ears.  In a few seconds, a full rainstorm raged in the kitchen.  As before, James tried to get out of the kitchen.  But as he took a step, a bolt of lightning arced around him and struck the wall.

James surmised that the blazer had protected him.  The rainstorm receded by the time he had made it into the living room.

Again, the weather was contained to one room. 

“The blazer is why your forecasts about frogs and eggs came true, Dad.  And it’s why my mentioning tornados and rain came true.  I still have to do more research on why our powers are different though.”

Cliff knew his son.  Even if James had any skill at pulling off pranks, even if he would turn his room upside down, he wouldn’t ruin the kitchen.  And he wouldn’t scorch the wall. 

“Presuming your story is even remotely possible,” Cliff said, one eyebrow decidedly raised, “who made the blazer, and why give it to me?” 

James patted his dad on the shoulder.  “That’s for you to figure out.” 

***

Cliff was skeptical about the magic part, but he did suspect something.  A prankster was still the most logical explanation.  He recovered the blazer from James.  Something was unique about the blazer itself.  Maybe some kind of advanced technology.  It might have created some kind projection, probably, of the sights that James saw.  And that projection was based on what James said, so there might be a microphone in the lining or somewhere.  And then, somehow—and this was the part that most troubled Cliff—someone else must have been around, in the house, someone who turned James’s room inside out, and someone who drenched the kitchen and scorched the wall, to match what James saw in the projections.  This same prankster, or pranksters, must have been responsible for the frying eggs, but how did they do the frogs in the throats?  How did they do the melting wax in the ears?  Unless, they were all in on it.  But why?

They had security cameras at their entrances and along windows.  Cliff reviewed the recordings late into the night, but saw nothing or no one unusual.

Cliff took the blazer to work with him, to keep it out of his son’s curious hands.  And he tried to track down the gift-giver.  He was surprised when he didn’t comes up against a dead end.  He was sure the source would be an unnamed package from a PO box.

He found out the name and address of the person who sent him the blazer.  He called under the ruse that he randomly chose names from among the people who sent him blazers, so he could personally thank them.  He asked the delighted woman on the other line if she could tell him about the particularly lovely blazer she had sent him.  She was more than happy to.   

She had spotted the blazer at an estate sale, and immediately thought of her favorite weatherman, Rad Blazer.  Her family thought she was being creepy sending it to him, but she was ecstatic about being proven right in believing that Cliff would enjoy his gift.  Cliff had all manner of explanations ready.  But she didn’t find it strange at all that he wanted to track down the provenance of the unique blazer.  She gave him the information for the estate sale she went to.

***

“You…are going to love this,”Cliff said when he picked James up from school after rehearsals.

Cliff had managed to track down the origins of the blazer.  It was nachos night, and over an elaborate plate of Cliff’s “everything but the kitchen sink” nachos, Cliff relayed the details of what he had learned.  And what their next move would be.

One of the relatives of the woman whose estate had once contained the blazer that now belonged to Cliff, happened to live only a few cities away.  Cliff had called and asked if he could visit and talk to her about the blazer.  He told her he’d noticed some unique properties.  She was hesitant at first.  But once he explained that he didn’t want a refund, but only wanted to learn the history of the blazer, she had sighed and said, “As it’s come to you, I suppose that’s only fair.”

***

That very night, the house grew colder and colder as Cliff tried to get to sleep.  When he went to check on the thermostat, he felt a particularly chilly breeze rush past him as he stood at the top of the stairs.  He went downstairs to make sure all the doors and windows were closed, and discovered a snowdrift in the living room. 

He rushed back upstairs to check on James, who definitely was not wearing the blazer.  It was draped over the chair in Cliff’s bedroom, right where he’d put it.  The commotion or the cold, or both, woke James too.  He came to find his dad, and they both stood staring at the blazer, which had turned snow white. 

“Did you wear it?” James asked in a sleepy whisper.

“No.  Did you?”

James shook his head.

***

After placing the blazer in their guest room, Cliff and James had gone back to sleep.  Cliff didn’t get much sleep, though, as he’d spent the night racking his brain about how and why the snowdrift had occurred in his living room.  He or James must have said something, something he couldn’t remember.

But James had a different theory at breakfast the next morning, one he presented while Cliff checked their security videos again.

“The power is almost contained, in the blazer, but it’s not being controlled by a person,” he said.  “It’s like a hose that’s been left on.  The water would be contained if someone just turned the hose off.  And that person could turn it on or off and point it in a direction.”

“I see what you mean, and it’s good thinking, but I’m still not convinced this is magic.”

“Dad, don’t you think Titan would know if someone had been in the house?  She would tell us.”

The cat meowed in response.

“Let’s see what we find out.  I’ve taken the day off.  I’ll pick you up right after school—no rehearsal today, right?”

“Right.”

“I’ll pick you up ,and we’ll go follow our next lead.”

***

Cliff brought but did not wear the blazer, as they drove over to the house of the woman who was the grand-niece of the blazer’s previous owner.  The snow white blazer darkened and shifted to a satiny blue by the time they arrived at the woman’s house.

“I should have asked you to leave that at home,” she said, when she spotted the blazer.

She insisted that they leave it outside if they wanted to enter her home.  Otherwise, she could entertain them on her back patio.

Cliff wanted to keep his eye on the blazer, so the patio it was.  He draped the blazer over a chair, which the woman asked him to place in the middle of the yard.

“In my experience, it can be pretty mischievous,” their host explained.

Over iced tea and lemon cake, the woman warned Cliff, “You most definitely will not believe what I have to say, but it’s all true.” 

“I’ll believe,” James said.

The woman smiled and sliced off a second piece of cake for him as she began to tell them of the blazer’s history.

***

The blazer was made from a magician’s robe, just as James had surmised.  Their host nodded to James for his cleverness.  

Generations past, in their family, this magician learned how to tap into the basic elements, and in doing so, direct the weather, but only at the local level.  Not wanting for this power to be lost when she passed on, she imbued her robes with her magic, and she taught one of her grandchildren (her children were uninterested).  This grandchild was the first to use the robe, and wield powers that he had not developed and earned on his own.  So they were wild at first, even despite his grandmother’s training.  But he eventually mastered the robe, and when he grew older, he too passed it and the knowledge of its powers on to one of his heirs. 

At some point, there were none who wished to learn how to use the robe’s powers, or maybe none who believed in them, or both.  So while the robe was still passed on and kept in the family, being a lush and beautiful garment, and while it was even worn by the magician’s later descendants, its powers lay dormant.

“And dormant they remained, but they must have gotten tired of sleeping, hmm?” the woman said.

She noted that after Cliff had called, she had peripherally looked him up and learned about the recent real-world manifestations of his colloquialisms.

By this point in her story, James had forgotten the rest of his cake.  He shifted up in his chair.  “Do you think they purposely chose my dad—the powers I mean?  But wait, when did the robes get turned into a blazer?” 

The woman explained that her grand-aunt, who had recently passed away, prompting the estate sale, had converted the robe, the better to fit with modern fashion.  She also believed that her grand-aunt had at least partly figured out that the blazer was enchanted.  And her grand-aunt had figured out how to use it, though she did so late in life, and didn’t have time to learn to use it well. 

“You have to have intimate knowledge of two things: weather phenomena and the blazer’s use.  I doubt anyone in my family is ever going to learn the former.  As for the latter, the handbook should have come with the blazer.”

“Handbook?”

“What I know is what she told me when I was younger.  And what she told me is what she learned from the handbook.  They were supposed to come together.  She said they were inseparable.” 

As she spoke, the blazer sprung to life.  Arcs and sparks of electricity surged all around it. 

“Haven’t used it in a few days, have you?” the woman commented. 

She remembered her grand-aunt saying that once she “woke” the blazer’s powers, those powers craved to be used.  If they weren’t, the blazer would “protest” by activating randomly on its own. 

“As I said, it’s mischievous.”  The woman frowned at the blazer.

“I agree about there being mischief,” Cliff said.  “But I’ve been suspecting a different source, the human kind.”

“In that case, hon, you haven’t seen half of what that thing is capable of.  You’ll believe.  Trust me.” 

James scratched his chin.  “I don’t get one thing.  The frying eggs and the frogs in throats. That’s not really weather.  If the blazer did those things,” he said, turning to his dad to acknowledge that there might be another explanation, “then why and how did it do non-weather magic?”

“It has to learn to about you, the owner that is.  It was obviously taking your father literally.” 

“How does it learn?” 

The woman turned to Cliff.  “You have to wear it and use it.  The handbook would explain.” 

Cliff explained that there was no handbook, and also, she was right about him not believing any of it.  The blazer’s effects could be explained by technology.  Fabric that reflected light a certain way.  And he’d seen plenty of crystal ball Halloween decorations that could do what the blazer was currently doing, releasing little arcs of lightning.

“Whether you believe or not, the blazer’s powers will become evident.  Funny, I’m pretty sure my auntie tried to sell the blazer hoping that it would end up with someone who knew nothing about weather, or magic, and would never awaken its powers.”  She shook her head.  “But those powers really must have a mind of their own, or some kind of homing beacon that led it straight to someone who would know how to use it.” 

“But I don’t know how to use it.  And if there ever was a handbook, it didn’t make its way to my hands.”

“That’s curious.  But you will have to wrangle its powers, or they may run rampant.” 

Cliff was willing to play along.  “Then how do I make it go dormant again?” 

“You can’t, Dad.  It’s yours now.  You accepted the gift.  You’re responsible for it.”

Just as James spoke, a massive bolt of lightning discharged from the blazer, shooting up into a cloudless sky.  The chair beneath the blazer splintered and charred.  The blazer itself was unaffected.  It seemed to wind down, the electric arcs ceasing, and the color shifting to a powder pink.

Their host sighed.  “Ever seen a Halloween decoration do that?”

Staring at the blazer, Cliff had a sudden urge to put it on.  The urge felt the way he felt when he’d caught an idea and wanted to dive in.  He walked over, picked it up, shook off charred pieces of what used to be a chair, and slipped the blazer on.

James was already at his side.

“Fog,” Cliff said.  He felt it all around him, though there was no fog present.  “There’ll be a thick fog in the morning.  Thick even to slice—“ 

James reached up and slapped his hand against his father’s mouth. 

“Just in case,” he said, removing his hand. 

Cliff nodded.  He didn’t finish the sentence, and they all hoped that they wouldn’t have to be actually slicing through the fog the next morning. 

“But did I forecast what’s going to happen?  Or did I just summon fog?” 

He turned to their host, but she couldn’t help them much more.  All she kept saying was that there should have been a handbook.

***

“We still have a week to explain all this to your mother,” Cliff said as they drove back home.

“Do you believe now, Dad?”

“Think I might be starting to.  It’s kind of a relief.”

“Really?”

“Compared to the alternative?  A stalker breaking into our house to prank us?  Absolutely.”

“I’m kind of more worried.  About what the blazer might do if you don’t learn how to use it responsibly.”

“Safety first, huh?”  It was always a nice surprise for Cliff to learn that his son was actually picking up the lessons he taught.

“I think we should try to track down that handbook first,” James said.  “It must have been at that sale.”

“You were right, James.  Whatever this blazer is—high-tech prank device or re-purposed magician’s robe—I accepted the gift, and when I accepted the gift, I accepted the responsibility for it.” 

At that moment, James gasped and alerted his dad to a new change in the blazer.  Cliff noted that characters in black were appearing along the arms.  He glanced at them.  The script was unfamiliar. 

Cliff pulled the car over, and as they watched, the script covered the whole blazer, including the lining, which looked like a star field and bore characters in white.  The characters shifted through other scripts in what looked like other languages.  Cliff thought he recognized one that looked like cuneiform.  Finally, it landed on the language that Cliff and James understood. 

“On the care and keeping of the garment,” James read aloud.  His eyes swept over other words and sentences.  Gaping, he glanced at his father. 

Cliff exhaled.  “It’s the handbook, isn’t it?” 

“So…we check if there’s a chapter on safety and go from there?”

“Of all the blazers in all the world…”  Cliff sighed.

James grinned.  “This one will be your raddest.”



Copyright © 2021  Nila L. Patel

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