Creative Writing – Ugly Shoes

Ugly Shoes

W. James Jonas III

March 2006

I know he thinks I am the ugliest set of shoes he has.  Perhaps, I have known it ever since I got thrown in his closet.  I did not come from the store.  I came in a paper sack from his mother-in-law.  She is a nice lady, very thrifty, and never spent a dime on polish for me.  After more than a year gathering dust and being allowed to rest in the quite of her dead husband (my first owner’s) closet, I was gathered up, put in to a paper sack with a belt, a set of cufflinks and two ties to be taken over to his house.

I am not exactly his size, but I am close enough.  My infrequent use has northing to do with fit.  Some of the other shoes are bigger and smaller than me, and they all get more use and appreciation.  Of course such treatment is ridiculous, as my heritage and style are far superior to anything  else that occupies this silly closet of this simple man.  Still, I wish he would take me out more often.

In another time, I enjoyed a different level of status.  All in the closet knew of my travels from Italy and the significance of my birthmarks.  When I was first sold, there was a soft cloth sack for me in the box, and the salesman insisted that a special leather balm and polish be used on me.  While some shoes were subjected to trees made of metal or plastic, only the finest cedar was allowed to apply pressure to my interior.

The first day I took a walk outside the store, it was in the heat of summer.

The first time this son-in-law took me outside it was rainy and very muddy.

My first years never saw a human foot touch me unless it was in a silk sock and had been powdered.

These days, the feet are bare, and I am part of a fashion ensemble that is an insult to Western culture.

I did take a trip to the beech.  I got wet.  I got dirty.

Now, I am in a plastic bag.  Maybe they are going to throw me in the trash.  It is ok.  I really do not care.  I had a good owner, and all of my friends from the old days are gone.  The wing tips, the high tops, the canvas deck shoes, and the wonderful cedar trees that kept me in shape have been away from me for years.  This owner has never cared for me.  I just hope the bag never opens again.

My hope if futile.  The bag is opened, and I am with some of the most beautiful shoes I have ever seen.  Others may not think these shoes are beautiful, but they are beautiful to me.  Some are younger than me, some are older, and a number of them are my age.  I am so busy looking at all of my new neighbors that the new polish being applied to me is hardly something I notice.

A paper bag … after some of the happiest moments I have had in a very long time, I am put in a paper bag.  It gets worse.  I am in the bottom of a paper bag.  How do I know I am at the bottom?  Well, I can feel the paper on my soles and there is stuff on top of me.  It might be okay if it was some of those shoes, but it is a bunch of cloth.  I cannot breathe.  I cannot see.  This feels like the trip I took after my first owner died.

It feels like I am in a closet.  That is a familiar feeling to me.  Where I am is hard to tell, but there are several other paper bags near me.

He was ready … he thought.  The shower felt good.  The feel of a shower on his non-inebriated body was still different, but he liked it.  He said a prayer and opened the bag.  Everything was there he needed.  None of it fit perfectly, but it was clean, he was sober, and there was a chance he could end the day with a job … still homeless (except for the shelter) … but with a job.

The sun was bright, and the interview was close to his adopted abode.

And that is the way I came back.  He got the job.  It paid regular and he soon was given a permanent position.  By the end of the first month, he was in his own apartment.  In the second month, his family came to live with him.  By the third month, he bought new clothes and the ones he wore on that interview were returned in that same paper bag … except for me.  I am not certain why, but one thing did happen.  As he walked from the waiting room to the interview cubicle, the receptionist said to him “nice shoes.”

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