The townsfolk of Gomorra were always conservative when it came to fashion, none more so than the proprietor of Yan Li’s Tailoring.
Mrs. Li braced herself for a familiar conversation as she watched the silhouette duck low through the doorway of the shop, the third hat on his head barely managing to miss the frame of the entry way. His wide, unblinking eyes were the only recognizable feature under the sea of crimson masks tied around his head.
Word around town was that something had snapped in Mortimer Parsons’ head when he was caught cheating at cards a week earlier. He had a reputation as an honest man and apparently he took that reputation seriously. They said, once caught, he immediately left the Killer Bunnies Casino and locked himself in a jail cell for the rest of the night. He may have been the only man left in town who actually seemed to care if he cheated.
“I want a Fancy New Hat,” said the staring Mortimer, holding out a bit of ghost rock.
Mortimer’s reckless behavior began shortly after his night in jail. The next day he led a posse against a suspected Sloane Gang encampment outside of town. The law didn’t take too kindly to vigilante justice or kidnappin’, but he wasn’t the first Law Dog to end up with a bounty on his head. Mortimer’s already fragile self-image must have broken from the hypocrisy of a job well done because the man returned to town covered in the outlaws’ red masks. Not having to show his face (or ears, or the back of his head) let him walk through the town square a little taller, but the feeling of relief must not have lasted very long.
“I want a Fancy New Hat,” Mortimer repeated. It was the only thing he had said to Mrs. Li for the fourth day in a row.
“Mr. Parsons, this has gone on long enough. Your reputation is far from tarnished. Rumors in this town never last for more than a day. You have to stop this,” said Mrs. Li, more desperately than she cared to admit.
“I want a Fancy New Hat,” chimed the unblinking man, ignoring Mrs. Li’s plea.
Mrs. Li stared in silence for a moment, knowing her efforts would go to waste. She sighed, took his ghost rock and disappeared into a back room. She returned shortly with the exact same hat she had brought out three times before. She placed it on top of the impossible pile of Stetsons.
Mortimer turned without saying a word and headed toward the door.
“Mr. Parsons, this is the last time we do this. Gomorra law strictly prohibits selling you more than four of the same hat.”
Mortimer nodded slightly, the top of his headwear tower bobbing many times the distance.
Mortimer crawled through the exit and dusted himself off, standing up again in the town square. His eyes caught the Killer Bunnies Casino down the street.
“Never again,” he whispered hoarsely into the air of the town square, where he stood silently until nightfall.