The Adventures of the Magic Cummerbund

This first draft story came out of a writing prompt: write a story about a cummerbund.

Once upon a time in the back closet of a tuxedo shop in Chelsea, Massachusetts there lived a tired, slightly frayed, but magical cummerbund.

The store owner Stanley had tried to rent other cummerbund and bow tie sets, but there was a legend in the neighborhood that the grooms who wore the plaid one that Stanley never advertised, had the happiest marriages.

One day David came into the store with his bride to be. Most grooms came alone, but this was different. David was older now, well into his fifties and being his third marriage, he could not bear the thought of it not being a marriage that would last forever — one that would be filled with joy and happiness — his romantic dream. And Stephanie, a love from an earlier time had appeared in his life quite unexpectedly after both of their spouses had moved on to another plane.

Stanley showed them the gold lamé set, the taffeta ones, the taupe Dior, and the Italian silks he imported from his friend in the North End. But David and Stephanie couldn’t find anything that felt quite right.

As they turned to leave the shop, Stanley realized that they had not heard the legend. After all, they weren’t even from the neighborhood yet. They were going to move there later, after the honeymoon.

Just as David opened the door activating the bell that signaled comings and goings, he stopped, cocking his head to the side, listening to a sound that was like sandpaper on glass.

“What was that?” he asked Stanley. “It sounds as though something or someone is trapped in a box..”

“It’s nothing,” Stanley said. “Just the wind.”

Stephanie listened, too. “Do you have a cat? It’s coming from the back of the store. Whatever it is, it sounds trapped.”

Now Stephanie, being a cat lover, and David, being very sensitive to the sensation of being trapped, which he had been in his earlier marriages, stood still.

It was undeniable. Something was clawing, trying to get out.

David closed the door. Stephanie put her arm through his. “We’re not leaving,” David said, “until we know whatever it is is alright.”

Stanley broke a sweat now because in all his years, the plaid cummerbund had never been so noisy and he knew he couldn’t rent it to David. He would have to give it to him. That was the rule that his father had told him: that the magic cummerbund could be rented, but when it found its true owner it must be released forever from its drawer.

More scratching.

“Aren’t you going to check it?” David asked.

“I know what it is,” Stanley said. “It’s your rightful cummerband , clawing to hug you. Come with me.”

Stanley led the couple to the drawer and with great affection and seriousness he opened the drawer. The threadbare cloth sparkled. Tiny golden threads pierced through the weave as it glowed up at David and Stephanie.

“Can I?” she said and gently picked it up and wrapped it around David’s impressive belly — large, and strong, and healthy.

David felt a heat coming through the threads. Stephanie felt it too, and Stanley wept with a smile. “Take it. It’s been waiting for you all these years.”

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