The Purge Report: The Red Leather Jacket

This is part of an ongoing series of blog posts about things I’m purging from my apartment and why I’m getting rid of them.

Keith’s red leather jacket was one of the hardest things of his I had to part with. There are a lot of items of clothing I attach to Keith, but his red leather jacket is what I always imagine him wearing when I picture him in my head. Keith almost always wore this jacket whenever we got together in chilly weather.


Keith was a pretty skinny guy, aside from the little protease beer belly of his. He could wear this jacket with layers underneath and it would still hang off him like a shroud. When I tried it on after he died, I could barely get it over my shoulders. I couldn’t even get the zippers clasps around my stomach much less, zip it up.


A few weeks after he died, a friend of Keith’s emailed me to say that she had a dream about him. She said that Keith had come up come up behind her at the restaurant where she worked, his hair was done up like Elvis (Keith’s style leaned towards rockabilly), and he told her that he was settled in his new place and that the people there were really cool. She told him that she wanted to come see him but he said, “Better I come to you, they’re sorta, don’t call us, we’ll call you,” and he laughed his Pee Wee Herman laugh.

I replied to the email asking Keith’s friend if this was the jacket he was wearing in the dream. She said she wasn’t sure if that was the jacket, but it was definitely the right colour.


I had wanted to give the jacket to this butch lesbian barista that worked at the coffee shop near me, but I thought it might creep her out. I couldn’t think of anyone that suited the jacket, and again, I wasn’t sure if anyone I knew would want it, knowing that Keith took his own life.

The jacket had been hanging in my hall closet for a year. It was one of the first things I saw as I entered my apartment. The jacket didn’t take up a lot of space, but the longer it hung there, the more I felt it should be worn, paraded on the street, or used to make an entrance at a club, instead collecting dust in my apartment. I think Keith would have wanted it that way, but then again, we’re always attributing our motives to the dead. In actuality I  have no idea what Keith would have wanted me to do with his red leather jacket. For all I know, he wanted to be cremated in it.

In the end I donated the jacket to The Wildlife Thrift Shop on Granville Street. I hope it brings someone as much joy as it did him.


About garpinbc

Author of the forthcoming "Same Love" published by Lorimer, as well as the memoir "Foodsluts at Doll & Penny's Cafe", and the YA short, "Haters Gotta Hate".
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