It was a few days after he moved to the city of New Fort Garry that Clement first noticed Donald. He was an elderly man who loitered the downtown. He always wore a uniform coat with epaulets and brocade, his chest festooned with medals. On his head was a tricorne with ostrich plumes bursting from its crown. He strode through the downtown, shaking hands with everyone he met and tipping his cap to all the ladies.
Clement watched the uniform man from afar for several weeks. In the lunchroom at work Clement sat with several coworkers. “Does anyone know anything about the street guy who wears the crazy uniform? I see him all the time,” he asked.
“That’s Emperor Don,” said Julia as she dug into her kale salad. “He’s harmless.”
“What’s his story?” asked Clement.
“I heard he was a rich guy who lost his fortune and then his mind,” said Ashur.
“No, his wife left him,” said Julia.
“I thought they died in an accident or something,” said Amy.
“Anyway, he’s been around forever. I remember seeing him since I was a kid,” said Ashur.
At that moment Ivan from sales entered. “What’re we talking about?”
“Emperor Don,” explained Ashur.
Ivan made a face. “That guy’s unreal. I wish I had half the charisma he has. People love him. I heard the mayor even uses him as an advisor.”
“I heard it was the Prime Minister,” said Amy.
Julia rolled her eyes and spoke with a mouth full of kale. “Come on. He’s just some crazy homeless guy. He uses the uniform to sucker people out of loose change.”
Ivan shook his head. “It’s more than that. I’ve seen him on the stage at civic functions.”
“When?” scoffed Julia.
“Remember the opening of the museum? He sat next to the mayor. It was on the news.”
Julia looked at Clement, frowned and shook her head.
Clement looked around the lunchroom as the debate swirled.
“I heard he was an exiled emperor from where ever he’s from.”
“He’s not homeless. My friend who knows his cousin says he’s rich.”
“He could be one of those eccentric millionaires. Like Howard Hughes.”
“No, he’s sick. Schizophrenic or something.”
“Do you think he hears voices?”
“I still don’t think he’s dangerous.”
Whoever he was, Clement decided he wanted to found out the truth.