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The Man In The Black Suit

the man in the black suitThe sun was setting in the west. That seems to be the way of things. But there was still enough light to illuminate the silhouette strolling towards the library desk. When the man stopped in front of me I saw that he was wearing a tailored black suit and a matching black hat.

I half expected him to say, “I’m Elliott Ness. You’re coming with me.”

Instead, he curled an index finger toward himself and whispered, “I need to show you something.” Not the most reassuring opening line, but not the worst. That dubious honor will always belong to “You’re going to install a PA system in here that will tell people when they need to be quiet, right now!”

I followed The Man in the Black Suit to a burnished, knee-high, cylindrical and shiny garbage can. It was the type of structure that DMX used to film rap videos in.

He pointed into the can. At the bottom lay a half-full bottle of orange pineapple juice.

“May I drink that?” he whispered.

When The Man in the Black Suit comes for you, you deny him nothing.

“You may,” I whispered back.

He knelt, stood, upended the bottle, and then tossed it back into the can, empty. He sighed, content. All was right with the world. He placed his hand on my shoulder and leaned forward.

“Thank you,” he said. “I just ate an entire bucket of cheese popcorn and I was parched.”

If that sounds strange, the most bizarre part of the story is yet to come. He made a point of not taking the elevator, choosing the stairs instead as he left my department. a good man.

The  sun went down and everything went back to normal. Stay sharp, friends. He may be coming to visit you next.


PS: Now that you know a bad man when you see him, you might enjoy the discussion we had about What is a good man?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Yusuf March 23, 2011, 11:21 am

    So should we read the book? I think you may need to try your hand at screen writing sometime Josh. Fun little adventure you just took me on. Thanks.

    • Josh Hanagarne March 23, 2011, 1:30 pm

      Yusuf, I originally saw the story in King’s collection Everything’s Eventual. I actually wasn’t aware that the story had been released as the title of another, shorter collection until today. It’s a great, fun story, especially if you’re a fan of Young Goodman Brown and all the stories it has led to.

      Still, nothing in the story was stranger than the man in the suit drinking out of the trash.

  • Heather March 23, 2011, 12:09 pm

    So. . . the Ghost of Johnny Cash drank someone else’s discarded orange drink? AND he ate cheese popcorn? WOW! Apparently, Stephen King wrote a whole BOOK, not just a wee library vignette. I agree with Yusuf there. . . . THIS should be YOUR next novel! Did you follow him? Did you meet up with him later, perhaps bumping into him at, say, Wal-Mart or Fred Meyer or something? Wow. . . .thanksf or this, Josh!

    • Josh Hanagarne March 23, 2011, 1:31 pm

      I did not follow him, Heather. He walks dark paths that I shall steer clear of.

      • Gustavo March 24, 2011, 12:40 pm

        Talking about your novel. How can I get a copy of The Knot? Are those with the author’s signature still available?