Tag: short story

Color No. 8

Here’s a change of pace from the usual poetry.

One of the only times I feel like a human being is when I’m polishing my shoes.

My collection is respectable. I tend to go English for boots, Italian for shoes. Kiton, Santoni, John Lobb, Edward Green. Always handmade. A lot of people don’t like the narrow toe box of Italian shoes. I am not one of those people.

This morning, however, I’m wearing American. By Alden of Middleborough, Massachusetts—shell cordovan nine-eyelet boots, cap-toe, plain, plaza last, Color No. 8.

Though I’ve spent time abroad, I consider myself quintessentially American.

I keep my shoe care supplies in a WWI-era ammunition box which my grandfather some decades ago had fashioned into a shinebox—complete with a cast-iron footrest fixed to its weathered hardwood lid.

From the box I retrieve his ancient horsehair brush, made by Melco of New York. I’ve never found another horsehair brush which could compete with his. I don’t know if that company still manufactures them, or even if it still exists, but a legacy of a kind lives on in this brush.

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This one has been in my head for a while now, and last night, inspiration finally struck. This, of course, is pure fiction, despite my use of a few real names.

In the spring of 1984, accounts of an unusual circumstance made their way from a rural New Jersey sheriff’s office to the desk of a NJ State Police lieutenant. Recognizing in some sense the significance of the situation in which he had found himself but uncertain as to how to proceed, the lieutenant phoned his captain, who dragged himself out of bed and drove to the police barracks of which he was in command—it was shortly after 3:30 in the morning.

Upon his arrival, the captain reviewed the documents that the Sheriff had personally driven to the barracks. Before dismissing the lieutenant for the night, the captain ordered him not to breathe a word about the situation to anyone indefinitely, adding that there was little chance he would ever be at liberty to speak freely of the contents of the Sheriff’s report. The captain gave no further explanation, and his subordinate didn’t dare ask for one.

When he was absolutely certain that the lieutenant had gone, the captain unlocked his own office and, after some hesitation, stepped inside.

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Moving Van

The moving van merged right, passing a grey sedan before merging back left in front of it. The move was unusual, since the left lane is typically used when passing another vehicle, and the German-made turbocharged engine in the sedan was by no means propelling it slowly. Professionally-armored cars are often designed such that the vehicles appear virtually indistinguishable from their stock counterparts; however, while heavy steel plates can be concealed from the eye, their massive weight remains—the sedan was travelling as quickly as its talented driver could control—a far cry from its factory top speed.

Immediately after the van overtook the car, its driver activated a small switch attached to the steering column. It activated a signal light inside the moving van’s rear cargo box, an alarm gave a short warning report, and a small opening cut into the large roll-up rear door was revealed. Directly inside the opening sat a large machine gun—an M2 Browning of Belgian manufacture, procured for a large sum—fixed to a short swiveling stand.

The sedan’s driver, having experience in regards to evasive driving, knew almost immediately what was about to take place, but that cruel split-second delay separating recognition and reaction might as well in this case have lasted a century.

Black until now, the trapdoor became illuminated.

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