“Shoes,” by Eric Suhem

Dec 20th, 2011 | By | Category: Fiction, Prose

Gary divorced Gabriela over what he termed as her ‘lack of support for my shoe choices’. In the settlement, Gabriela kept the house, and Gary moved into the Capri Village Apartments. Now single, he felt freer to explore his shoe preferences. Taking a walk, he noticed a shoe store around the corner. “What a stroke of luck!” declared Gary, eyeing his chipped wobbly clogs.

Entering the store, he was greeted by a salesman. “Hello sir, my name is Walt, may I help you?” asked the salesman.

“I’d like to try on the walking shoes in the window,” said Gary.

“Well I want to try on your shoes!” snapped back the salesman, fixated on the clogs.

The manager noticed, and squinted with disapproval, saying, “I’m sorry sir, about our associate’s unprofessional behavior.” He told the salesman to go sit in the corner and think about what he’d done. “We’re interviewing for his replacement, and we’re down to two candidates,” confided the manager. As he helped Gary with his shoe needs, the interview process in the back room could be overheard:

“So you had plastic surgery to change your face into a foot-measuring device, but do you really want this job?” and “Well what about this resume from Mrs. Hubbard? Anyone who lives in a shoe must be dedicated, and with all those mouths to feed.” The store immediately hired the man with the foot-measuring device face, who was on the floor practicing, and fired the salesman Walt, who walked dejectedly out the door. Gary chose to purchase a snappy hiking boot, and left the store, in search of adventure.

Meanwhile, Gary’s ex-wife Gabriela visualized her thoughts soaring into the clouds. She thought, “Today I will wear my brown patent leather shoes.” She went to the window and saw her words in a billowy cloud: ‘Today I will wear my brown patent-leather shoes’. The cloud formed into a storm, and raindrops began to fall, escalating into a deluge. Gabriela looked out the window to see her patent leather brown shoes floating down the street in a flood of storm water.

She jumped out of her house and followed the stream down the street, as it carried her brown patent leather shoes through the open front door of the seedy Capri Village Apartments, into the bleak lobby, dusty potted plants upturned and pulled into the onslaught of water. The shoes and potted plants ended up in the apartments’ turgid, half-filled, cracked pool, situated under a decaying diving board.

Days later, after the storm had cleared, 3 people sat by the apartment complex pool: 1. Gary, enjoying the single life, sun burnt and overweight in his Speedo and wooden clogs. 2. A middle-aged platinum blonde cocktail waitress named Wanda, on a chaise lounge, wearing white enamel-trim sunglasses, and smoking a cigarette entrenched in a bizarre imitation gold-plated holder. 3. Walt, the fired shoe salesman, who also lived in the Capri Village Apartments. On most days, Walt would sit in his Barcalounger, drapes drawn, watching cable sports programs, after having bought a large plastic bottle of discount vodka at the generic drugstore in the hazy morning, wearing plaid shorts, and black socks that squeezed his white, puffy, blue-veined ankles. However, today Walt had decided to sit by the pool, hoping to strike up a conversation with Wanda, to whom he had become attracted.

Wanda eyed the brown patent-leather shoes floating into the deep end of the pool, near the 8.5 foot sign, soon gathering them in with a nearby insect net, adopting them as her own. Gary, recognizing the brown patent-leather shoes as Gabriela’s, felt tears of regret in his eyes as he thought of her. “I must have those shoes!” he yelled, grabbing at Wanda’s insect net.

Walt, sensing his opportunity, stepped in. “Leave that net alone, those are now Wanda’s shoes!” he screamed, pushing Gary back. Gary lost balance on his wooden clogs, and fell into the foul swimming pool.

Walt and Wanda would soon develop a steamy, long-term romance that would become the talk of the Capri Village Apartments. Wanda described the shoe incident to her fellow waitresses at the cocktail lounge, including the new waitress named Gabriela.


Eric Suhem lives in California and enjoys the qualities of his vegetable juicer. He is in the orange hallway (www.orangehallway.com)

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