At first, when Mary Ford Markonen was wearing the coat, it seemed normal to her. “It was a trench coat, gabardine, with a removable lining and raglan sleeves, not too long, not too short, just under the knee. I liked it because it was a real nice rust-red. It was cold all fall so I wore it to parties, on walks, when I traveled. I really became attached to it.”
Then one day, she was visiting her ex-husband’s sister. “We’re still friends,” she said. “Not me and him, but me and her. We always joke that I kept Jill in the divorce.”
Jill had recently moved into a new house, a house that she insisted was haunted. “She kept telling me that she was hearing bumps in the night, and creaking floorboards in rooms where no one was,” said Mary Ford Markonen. “I got over there, and we were deciding whether or not to go out for dinner. I felt like ordering in, so I made a big show of taking off my coat and throwing it on the couch. You know, drama. When it hit the couch, all of a sudden you could see an old man with a top hat, sallow skin, and a shock of white hair.”
The two women jumped. “Jill said ‘Yipes,’” said Mary Ford Markonen.
They went to dinner.
Mary Ford Markonen didn’t go back to Jill’s house, but a few days later she was in the museum. “I was in a well-lit room and it started getting warm, so I took off my coat and put it on a bench. All of a sudden I saw a little girl, with pigtails, holding a lollipop. I grabbed back my coat and she vanished.”
Mary Ford Markonen left the museum in a hurry. “Not because of the girl. I just didn’t care for the art. Both jejune and Byzantine, somehow.”
At home, though, she wore the coat all night. “Just to be sure.”
The next day, Mary Ford Markonen woke and visited a doctor. But not a general practitioner or a pulmonologist or a cardiologist or a finger doctor. She visited a parapsychologist. “I just had to know what was up with my gol-darned coat, if you will pardon my French.”
The parapsychologist, a distinguished man in his fifties named Francis B. Gianfrancesco, took one look at Mary Ford Markonen and burst out laughing. “I laugh not from mockery but from joy,” he said. “The joy of confirming that those things that I once hoped were true are in fact true.”
“What do you mean?” said Mary Ford Markonen.
“Take off your coat,” said the doctor. “Madam, please, trust me. I am not attempting to make you less dressed. This is a demonstration. Throw the coat against that wall.” He pointed. She threw her coat. Three people appeared: a soldier at attention, a small child holding a teddy bear, and a man wearing a jersey from the 1960 Dallas Cowboys. “All those people,” said the doctor, “are dead. Dead as doornails. But your coat, my dear lady, makes them once again visible. It is what we in the business call a G.E.G., or a Ghost-Exposing Garment. This is one of the finest I have seen.”
But Mary Ford Markonen was out like a light, having fainted at the sight of the three people, not only because they were ghosts, but because her father, too, had been a fan of the 1960 Cowboys, an abysmal team whose record was 0-11-1, the only non-loss coming in a tie with the New York Giants in a December game played at Yankee Stadium. So humiliated was her father by the team’s ineptitude that he frequently threatened to take his own life, though he never did, and most who knew him believed that he was merely venting.
The doctor draped the coat over Mary Ford Markonen and sat back down at his desk, chuckling.