13. A Needle in a Haystack

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Searching for a moonbeam in the blue - Fred Astaire

9:58 a.m. Thursday, October 7, 2021

He consciously chooses a Gucci sweater to wear with his loose jeans this morning, knowing that Tonya will be impressed by his clothing. Mentally he kicks himself for caring about what she would like. After all, this stupid plan wasn't his idea.

"Breathe," he says softly, "You're not dating her. Just spending time getting to know a new person who is maybe different from what you're used to." Having propped up his ego, Harry clears his throat and prepares to open the door to The Hanger. Quickly he checks his breath and surveys his hair in the reflection of the glass window.

Upon entering, he finds Brent waiting at the first rack of clothes. Bollocks. Michele had mentioned he is single too. Maybe Harry should ask Brent out instead? But he has nothing planned, so instead he simply says, "Hi."

Feeling completely lame, Harry waits for Brent's response. Eyes widening, the shop owner responds with "Good morning, Harry. Thanks for coming to The Hanger! How may I assist you?"

"Oh, uh..." Nerves jangling so loudly that he might as well hook up a speaker and write a song to them, Harry stalls. "I, um, wondered what jumpers you might have? It's been rather cold lately, and I've only got the two with me."

Yes. That's good. It's definitely a reason to shop at a clothing store. Why he should feel like he's going to throw up makes no sense to him. After all, he's asked out people before. Right? Surely he has. He's dated. How did he ask Danice the first time? Reaching back in his memory, he comes up blank.

"Jumpers?" Brent asks curiously.

Wanting to kick himself, Harry grins, "Sorry, mate. British talk. Sweaters. I need a new sweater."

"Ohhhhh," the sales clerk and owner nods his head once. "Of course. But...I have to tell you, Harry. We don't have any Gucci here."

Somewhat uncomfortable at the implied accusation about his wardrobe, Harry rushes to reassure Brent. "No problem. I've got plenty of Gucci as it is. What do you carry?"

Visibly relaxing, Brent leads Harry to a display in the back of the store. The built-in shelves reach floor to ceiling and have a variety of different jumpers on display. They look fairly boring to Harry, but he doesn't want to be rude. Maybe he can still find something that he can wear a couple of times and then gift to Jeffrey.

The first one he pulls off the shelf is bulky and comes in a drab olive green, although he likes the bulky wooden buttons that line the cardigan. He starts to refold it in order to return it to the shelf, but Brent takes it from him. "Don't try to take my job, Harry!" he scolds.

With a smile, as he's starting to like Brent, Harry takes another sweater and unfolds it. To his surprise, this one has a teddy bear on front. It's wearing soft blue jeans, a striped sweater, a green cardigan, and glasses. In its left paw is a football. Totally adorable! The tag reveals that the jumper is from Polo, and Harry passes it to the salesman. "This one is a possibility."

Nodding, Brent places the clothing over his shoulder while Harry reaches for the next item. This one has different gradients of blue, fading from dark to light. It's a pullover and has a zipper at the top. "That one is on sale," the owner says.

Holding it in front of his body and gazing in the mirror on the wall to the right, Harry can see why no one has bought it before now. It's bold colors, but perhaps too much? The darkness of it doesn't suit him, and he feels a little guilty when he starts to fold it to return it.

"Ah. Not your style either? That's okay! Oh! We have one over here that might be to your liking!" Brent leads the way to the middle of the store where there's a rack of cardigans hanging. He pulls out a grey one that's oversized.

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