How To Be a Shoe Salesman

Posted: March 10, 2013 in Stories

At night, listen to the cars wail past on the other side of the shut door, running red lights, getting lost and turning around. Imagine it to be the sound of wind and the waves at your house by Horseneck, the one your mother pointed out to you so many years ago, the one that’s only a few miles away. The one you drew pictures of in your history textbook. Sleep and remember textbooks and desks, fresh pencils and friends, the smell of mother’s hair.

Shrug off the torn, pink beach towel you’ve been using as a blanket; it’s the one no one wanted. Barbie’s smile has worn away. Put on the shirt and pants. Open the door and step out. Stretch in every direction. Remember jumping jacks and gym class.

Begin unfolding and folding the towels from the front seat. Hang them out with clothespins from the rack on the roof in order: Harley-Davidson, Patriots Football, Winnie the Pooh, Cinderella, Mickey Mouse. Smooth out a wrinkle on Fred Flintstone’s nose. Put the “Man of Steel” logo one over the windshield and hood. People will see that first. They’ll stop for that one.

Organize the boxes according to height, not length. Women’s shoes on the left, facing the towels, men’s shoes on the right, facing the towels. Then by size. It’ll be more convenient for them this way. You’ve got to make it look presentable, after all. Kick the flat tires.

Set up your folding chair and wait for an hour or so. Attract attention when the cars stop at the intersection and watch as the eyes quickly dart away. Fold the chair back up and walk to the Denny’s across the parking lot. Leave the van behind for a while. Wash up and empty out in the restroom. Ask for some orange juice to get the taste out of your mouth.

When you walk back home, look across to the other corner of the lot and remember the kid’s playcenter that shut down a couple years back. Remember the mothers who walked in. The ugly ones. The pretty ones. The ones with the low-cut tops and angry husbands. Remember the kids. Remember cutting valentine’s cards out of construction paper. Giving them out. Bringing them home. But you did it wrong, didn’t you? And you wanted to create art? You got distracted while you was making this, didn’t you? You got halfway there, halfway toward something you wanted, and instead you decided to play with your little goddamned friends, and forgot all about that piece of shit, didn’t you?

A car stops near you. You look up. She asks for directions because she’s not from around here and she’s lost and although she has a vague idea of where she is, she isn’t sure and wanted to make sure before she got really lost. You see her baby boy in the backseat. You say that you’ve been lost before too and you can’t really help her, but you can make it up to her, yes you’ll make it up to her because you’ve got a great pair of shoes for her that can take her wherever she needs to go and besides, they match her eyes, so why doesn’t she just drive up a little so you can show her?

Unpin everything. Fold it up. Box it. Stuff it. You think you heard someone at the Denny’s say it was going to rain tomorrow. That’s okay, you think as you lie down. I’ll be right here. I’ll get some sleep.

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