flash fiction

3 Possible Explanations for St. Vincent’s Mystery Coat

The Coat of The Virgin.
The Coat of The Virgin. Photo: st_vincent/Instagram

On Tuesday evening, Annie Clark (a.k.a. St. Vincent) posted an interesting query to her Instagram account. “Mystery: bought this vintage coat in West Texas,” she began. “If anyone has any information regarding the origin of this coat, please contact me using the hashtag #stvmystery.”

The coat, pictured above, looks like a disco polar bear. Inside — in delicate crimson stitching — are the words “The Virgin.” Where could this coat have come from? We imagined three stories.

Nancy Goes to Hollywood

“You don’t think I’ll make it from the Davis Mountains to Los Angeles by myself? Well, you’re dead wrong, mister.” Nancy took her pink cowboy hat (the one with “FANCY NANCY” in sequins around the brim) and her orange leather trunk, and she let her deadbeat husband and his broken-down Impala stew by the side of that lonely stretch of highway that was sure to lead her somewhere.

“Nance, you ain’t got any idea where you’re going,” Rick yelled out after her.

“I don’t care, Rick. I’m heading for Hollywood!” She began the long march, stomping in white open-toe platforms toward nothing and no one. Hours passed and her dogs were barking when she finally saw a gas station and a tiny little diner, with only one man nursing a coffee at the counter. Nancy walked in. A girl no older than 17 was manning the counter. Her name tag read Virginia.

“Ma’am, I don’t have any money, but I got all kinds of nice feathery things in this suitcase here,” Nancy told her. “I’d kill for a grilled cheese.”

Virginia looked at her kindly. “Whattaya got?” she asked.

Nancy popped the trunk open and the first thing that spilled out was a white fluffy fur coat, shimmery and silky white on the inside. Virginia gasped with a small pop. “Oh, I love that, miss,” she said. “I’d give you ten grilled cheeses if you let me have it. I’ll wear it to prom, even!”

“It’s all yours, doll,” Nancy told Virginia, handing it over as she pulled up onto a stool. Nancy was hungry and that coat didn’t mean shit to her, not as long as she made it to Hollywood.

“Only problem is,” the girl stuttered, looking down at the white fluff, “people are gonna think I stole it.”

“I know just the fix. You go by Virginia? I got some red thread and a needle in this trunk somewhere. I’ll just sew your name right in here.”

“Well, actually, miss,” she said quietly. “They call me The Virgin.”

Mr. Saturday and The Virgin Band

In the early 1970s, Mr. Saturday toured the bars outside Phoenix and Tucson singing standards and Stevie Wonder covers to crowds no bigger than a rained-out Minor League Baseball game. He never made much cash, but oh how he loved the sound of his warbling voice.

The Lasso Lounge was his reliable Thursday-night gig, at least until one night in December of ‘73. “I got both you and The Virgin Band scheduled to play,” said the manager. “It ain’t my problem. You sort it out with her.”

Mr. Saturday confronted the lead singer of The Virgin Band, who was wearing a fluffy white coat over a silky white gown. She had a cigarette in her mouth and was wearing no bra. “Who do you think you are, trying to play my night at the Lasso Lounge?” he demanded.

She said nothing, but merely opened her coat slowly on its right to reveal the delicate red stitching. “I’m The Virgin. Nothing else you need to know.” Mr. Saturday, within an instant, was smitten. Without hesitating, he gave up half his set to her. Years later, the pair still plays together — a mix of old Motown classics and airy electric disco. Their albums do not sell well.

The Twist

St. Vincent is starting a clothing line called The Virgin and this is a smart way to pique people’s interest. Later this week on Instagram, she’ll reveal the clever ruse: When you buy my coats, you can be born again.

3 Explanations for St. Vincent’s Mystery Coat