Had he had any left, Cravitz Lewis would’ve covered his pillow in tears. To return home after a particularly long week away, ready to get to work on his opus – a novel he had been struggling through for the last two years – only to find that his writing hat had somehow disappeared, was too much for him to handle.
Unlike some writers, who have a metaphorical ‘writing cap,’ Cravitz’ hat was very real. It had been his for over fourteen years.
The hat was bruised and worn and the dye that was once a shimmering Navy Blue was now something closer to brown. The stitching, which when Cravitz bought the hat for $9 outside of a University of Michigan football game, proudly boasted his father’s Alma Mater, had become loose and unrecognizable. The brim was cracked in half. The seams were starting to fray. And the squatchee had long ago fallen off, leaving simply a metal plate right on top were the six sections of fabric met. Yet, Cravitz loved it. It was the only hat that really fit him. It made him feel peace. It helped him write.
He had finished and sold his first novel wearing it. He secured an agent wearing it. He found a girlfriend wearing it. He was half way through his second novel, all of which had been written wearing it. And, somehow it had disappeared.
His small apartment only had so many nooks and crannies where it could’ve been. Cravitz tore threw all of them in a minute then returned to each six more times over the next hour. He was at a loss. It couldn’t have been in the apartment. If it were, he would’ve found it.
His confusion and frustration turned to anger. His mind went to dark places. He didn’t want to think it, but the thought that Jennifer may have come over and finally thrown it away were hard to ignore. She had always hated the hat. Twice she threatened to break up with Cravitz over the hat. Both times, he was able to form a compromise – promising first, to never wear it in public with her; next, to never wear it in public. And he had stuck to those.
For six months now, his hat, his writing partner, his oldest friend had been trapped in his dark, dingy garret. It must’ve been her. She knew he’d be away. She knew he wouldn’t bring the hat. She knew this was his week away from the book. So, she sneaked into the apartment using the key he had given her “for emergencies” and murdered it.
She came into the living room, saw it sitting there atop Cravitz’ chair, staring straight at her, reminding her of every walk, every movie, every drink at the pub that had been ruined in memory because of that hat. Without thinking, she lunged forward, not even noticing she had grabbed the cleaver that had been sitting on the small kitchen counter or that her hands had raised it above her head. And before she knew it, it was done. The hat was dead. The cleaver, resting still and strong, wedged in the top of Cravitz’ writing chair.
She couldn’t leave the carnage just lying there on the floor on either side of his perfectly designed writing desk, so she ran to the bathroom, threw it in the tub and burned it right there. She knew the smoke would be sucked out through the window. She knew no one would smell it because of the bakery next door. Their cinnamon buns intoxicate the whole neighborhood. She knew the new bathtub she forced Cravitz to get would rinse away easily because the salesman from Home Depot showed them, in the store, that the stain resistant surface was both completely impenetrable and slip resistant. Meaning afterwards, with the tub full of soot and creatively stimulating ash, she could climb right in and rinse away all of the evidence. “BITCH!” Cravitz convinced himself of the whole scenario. It was the only plausible explanation. He paced and stomped across his wooden floor until he came to the rug she had bought him for their first anniversary. “REVENGE!” He grabbed it, releasing a carnal growl, and threw it out the window.
He wandered back to his writing chair and, as he sat, his hand ran along the top. No cleaver mark. “Huh.” He nearly formed a secondary thought, a possible doubt in the circumstances he had discovered, but before the thought could take shape, Jennifer walked through the door.
“Where’s my hat!” His anger came quickly and violently. He was nearly on top of her before she could absorb the question.
“What? What hat-”
“Oh, don’t try to play those games with me, missy. My writing hat. The hat I can’t wear in public. The hat I can only wear here. The hat that never leaves this apartment, but somehow isn’t here!”
His chest was throbbing. His breathing was fierce. Jennifer had never seen him like this and, as much fun as it would’ve been to play some kind of joke on him, leading him to this point, she felt this wasn’t the time. So, she slowly started slouching down to her right, sliding her hand into her purse.
Cravitz saw it happening and ran through a series of possibilities – pepper spray, mace, gun, nunchucks, small flashlight, lamp, black cat, wand, shovel, hammer, video feed of the hat in a basement with a crossbow aimed right at it. Cravitz’ curiosity won out, and he allowed her to grab whatever might be in there.
She took a deep breath. “I missed you and came over here to be closer to you but I had to go to work, and the only thing that was here was your hat, so I took it with me for the week.” And there, in her perfectly manicured hand, was his hat.
Cravitz fell into his non-writing chair. He laughed and exhaled and felt his shoulders relax. “Well, that was crazy.”
He knew a silly comment wouldn’t make up for the fact that he nearly threw his soon to be fiancé across the room because he thought she had murdered and burned his hat, but he didn’t really know how to retract from that kind of crazy. Jennifer slowly helped him to his feet and led him to the bed, where she motioned for him to sit next to her. “You know I hate this hat.” He nodded and she told him how much she loved him and how she would never hurt him like that and that he must’ve been crazy to think it.
They sat and talked for quite a while, not just about the hat. He told her about his week and the funeral and how his dad was holding up. She hugged him and, when she knew the time was right, she asked him to read her the newest chapter of the book (she decided not to mention that she had read it while he was away). She knew he it loved when she wanted to hear. She slid his hat onto his head, kissed him in the nose, handed him his laptop, and cuddled into bed. Cravitz looked at her and smiled and, had he had any left, he would’ve dropped a tear. “Ready?”
“Yeah… But… where’s the rug?”