The Fringe

Jden Redden on Flickr
Jden Redden on Flickr

He wore a faded brown fedora that protected his hairless head from the sun’s rays as he walked the streets. It was not purchased at a haberdashery, as one might suspect from the tycoon, but was instead a finder’s keeper.

A predilection for thrift store shopping implied Jones was impoverished at first glance but was actually quite wealthy. He was tight with his money although his fortune was made in the oil industry, disenfranchising his family in the process. All the work meant little time for loved ones, who swiftly procured his place in a nursing facility with the onset of dementia later in his life.

No one noticed when he followed some visitors out through a secure exit and away from the home, never to return. He left with only a lock box of his most valued possessions secured under his arm.

He found the old brown topper on the ground next to a scroungy mottled dog, similar in color, in the park following his escape. Jones spied the hat beside the friendly mongrel, right at its brim, prompting his moniker for the mutt. “Brim” seemed to be waiting for Jones and perked up at his approach. They became fast friends and wandered the streets together, inseparable to the end. Their days were spent outside in each other’s company strolling the park in daytime and sleeping on a secluded bench out of the public eye and scrutiny of the authorities.

Up to that point, the man spent his life as a miser who meant to disprove the old saying, “You can’t take it with you.” He vowed to do so and left a note in his pocket with his last wishes.

The action was more a deliberate obfuscation. A generous person would willingly leave a legacy for others to use, if even for the sake of doing right instead of getting recognized for altruism. Any other man would surely bequeath his riches to surviving family.

No love was there to be lost between the relatives. Jones suspected they only wanted his money and found a greater connection with his canine companion. He said the dog “wagged his tail and not his tongue,” feeling he’d found the perfect relationship with someone who wanted nothing else from him but his company.

The world had sucked the good out of him by then, and his scant remaining empathy was gone by the time his dead body was discovered in the park. The brown dog watched mournfully as workers hauled him away to a drawer at the City Morgue with a John Doe tag on his toe.

Jones felt about life as he did about his headpiece. Having once read words written by Oscar Wilde that, “All good hats are made out of nothing,” he saw fortune the same way. People made their own luck.

Believing everyone deserves only what they earn, he wanted his money to go to whomever befriended his loving pal, Brim. The dog took to few people other than Jones but seemed to sense who truly needed his camaraderie. Someone approved by his sharp canine wits would find a tiny key tied to the collar buried deep in his unkempt fur.

The dog would later dig up the lock box from its hiding place under the park bench where he and Jones met. The charmed schmo who cared for Brim would find the man’s tattered hat inside with a well-worn copy of The Picture of Dorian Gray atop a sizable pile of money.

Losers weepers.   Studio30

*Studio 30+ writing promptHe wore a faded brown fedora” from Ashley.


  1. This is timely for me in so many ways…my MIL is currently fading into a dementia fog, and my SILs beloved Chow was put down on Monday after a lengthy illness, so I wiped tears reading this and then identifying with it too.

    I don’t know if I like this man, on the one hand it is his money, his legacy and his right not to share…on the other, lessons learned the hard way are normally called “punishments”

    however, your use of the Wilde quote and the description of character, dog and fateful hat added layers to this complicated man. Plus that last line? WOW.

    • Thanks, Kir! It’s sad to watch loved ones slip away mentally and become someone else.
      I didn’t want to like Jones at first either, but there’s still something to be said for people who care for animals although they dislike people. My dad used to say that bit about wagging tails and not tongues. I think he liked dogs more than most anyone else, and they seemed to feel the same way about it.
      Pets can be therapeutic for people who are bitter, too. Maybe he just couldn’t relate, or maybe his kids were jerks (Jones, not my dad, lol).
      I didn’t like the character of Gray either but thought Jones might understand his narcissism. Happening upon the hat line was kind of serendipitous this week. Thanks again!

  2. This was a sad tale on several different levels. He didn’t love his family. He had dementia. He ended up leaving his wealth to a perfect stranger. And he died leaving the dog all alone. And yet a most enjoyable read. Thanks.

    • I agree – I always wanted to drive through the desert in a Jeep Wrangler with a German Shepard, ala Sarah Connor (without the Terminator after me).

  3. Sometimes, dogs are better than people. I suppose that he recalled something in spite of his dementia, if he knew enough to take the box with him when he left the home?

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