Thursday, May 8, 2008

shoes contest

Well, I figured I'd take a crack at the Scribbit contest, since I'm a writer at heart and I love shoes!

No, wait, I don't love shoes. I love pizza.

Anyway, I was writing on my myspace page, short stories that I took down because, HEY, they're my short stories!

I know, doesn't make sense. But now I figured I would dazzle you with a short story called "Mileage". So here goes.


My shoes caught fire. Just like that. It wasn't magic, it wasn't spontaneous combustion.

I really want to witness that some day, you know? I mean, I'd feel bad about the person dying and all, but imagine just being at the right place at the right time and all of a sudden this person in front of you goes off like a two hundred pound flare.

I wonder if it would be quick?

Anyway, anyway. Yeah, so they caught on fire. My friend Lee, he was careless with his cigarette on the way home. And I didn't realize how soaked they were, hours later.

They were nice Dr. Martins. I'd had them about four months. They had teeth at the bottom, I worked in them, I walked in them. The leather on the sides wasn't cutting into my feet. First week, they were bloody, you know how shoes do that to you. They were nice and comfortable now.

Well, now they were scabby and frayed and all those other words that can be put with fire damaged.

Lee's a piece of work. He sits around all day and plays video games and surfs porn and, well christ, it's why we keep all the blinds down, you know. Neighbors complained about peaking into our house.

Yeah, you read that right.

But who needs the hassle, you know? You've seen one guy sitting in a chair doing it to internet porn, you've seen all you want to see. Even me.

Sasha. That's my girl. She lives about two states over. She's pregnant. She's 20. She's the love of my life.

I'm 32 by the way. Never had a love in my life. Certainly not one I got pregnant. There've been those girls where you think you love them. Or they think they love you and you're drunk enough to think "Life is quick. I might not be around tomorrow. Why wait."

Drunken philosophy has this way of allaying all of your fears and giving you the courage you'd never have during the day time.

I mean, I only drink at night. Mostly. Those day time courage people have a serious problem, you know.

But this story... well, Sasha broke up with me about three weeks ago and moved home. And, like all women, wouldn't answer my phone calls or my texts. I didn't dare write her an email. I won't sit in that chair. Seriously.

Here's the conversation. Paraphrased.

"I'm pregnant. I can't believe you lost your job. How can you lose your job at a gas station in this day and age? I'm sorry but if you don't have a job, we're not going to be able to be together with a baby on the way and all..."

Throw in a southern twang, raise some of those words to all capitals, some screaming, some crying, some cursing...

I didn't lose my job. I was fired. I worked at a gas station because I wanted out of my old life. You ever sit in front of a computer for eleven hours a day? I mean, that's no life. It's the semblance of a life of our times. It's unhealthy. It's inevitable. There are some of us who'd rather be happy than successful.

Very few of us. Find us in that catagory 'hopeless romantic'. The subcatagory would read 'hardcore'.

So, what the hell was I going to do?

I had money for rent. I had money for food. I had money for tissues.

Give that last one a second.

But I didn't have enough money for gas to get me two states over.

I couldn't remember the last time that Lee had seen sunlight. Lee, who is for all intents and purposes, a home vampire, was my best friend from high school. We still had fun, regardless of his faults. He didn't work because he had a small case of agoraphobia.

Ok, Lee's just lazy.

So I turned to him one day and said "I have to go see Sasha."


"You want to go with me?"

"How you going?"





I was ready to say "Car" again, but I knew what he meant.

"I have a plan."

Silence for a second.

"She has a sister, right?"

We made it about fifty miles before we were running out of gas. I looked around for the perfect place to do what I needed to. Lee was messing around with the radio (only radio, no cd player, no ipod connection, nothing... it seriously felt like the dark ages).

I pulled into an Outback Steakhouse. It was about 5pm. Dinner crowd time. I think about it now, it was almost automatic. The tumblers clicked into place and everything was right with that small part of my world.

I picked an old 1977 Granada. It was red, chrome and the grill reminded me of my father's face. Very strange.

Siphoning gas isn't ethical. I mean, it isn't.

We're not living in Mad Max times here, but at $3.50 a gallon, we might as well be.

And I'm not driving one of the last of the V-8's. I drive a piece of shit.

Lugging around two 5 gallon metal gas canisters, along with a six foot length of clear hose is not too conspicuous. But you have to do what you have to do. I figured that it would be easier to do this at night, but daylight was wasting, and we'd only gone a small bit of our trip.

Plus, is there a better way to get your feet wet than in broad daylight?

Don't lecture me about mixed metaphors.

I got down behind the car, set the cans nice and easy down on the paved parking lot and lifted the lid on the gas tank. I knew I was going to have to stick to older cars. New cars have got a screen in the filler neck to prevent siphoning.

I turned the gas tank cover off and pushed the hose down into the tank, then started sucking. It didn't take long, the guy must have had a full tank, because the gas hit the middle of the hose in about five seconds. I took the hose out of my mouth and stuck it into the first can. It moved at a pretty good pace and was filled up in about two minutes. I moved the hose to the second and filled that too.

All in all, five minutes, in and out.

I pulled the hose out and splashed the remaining gas onto the pavement. I wrapped it around my shoulder, covered the cannisters and walked back to my car, whistling.

Whistling is one of those things that makes everyone seem likable and innocent.

Or, if you're doing it like the caricature of your favorite Looney Tunes character, well... something from ACME will certainly hurt you.

I got back to the car. Lee was on lookout. Sleeping.

I got my funnel and filled my gas tank with ten gallons. That would get me... about halfway there.

I drove all night, trying to determine if I felt badly about what I did. But I settled on no.

There are certain things that people have to do in the times they are living. And while people can say "well, it's not as bad as killing someone, but it is a crime..." to them I say "You're right, I didn't kill anyone. Leave me alone until you're broke and need to be somewhere so your life doesn't spiral into the abyss that's been following you around like a black cloud ever since you left home."

But, you know, not so dramatic.

Butterflies build up as you get closer to your pre-destined, horrific, intense, life altering destination.

They start, well, they start when you leave your house. But they build up with every mile and every repeated song on the radio and every house and tree and patch of grass that reminds you of something you've already witnessed. Monotony builds up dread. Or excitement.

I'd been to her parents house before. I felt, as we made it to the driveway, not unlike a homing pigeon. Dumb, trained to do a single thing. Find my way home.

I hadn't changed. I had no extra clothes on me. I'd coughed up a cup full of gas on the last siphon, all over my shirt. I spilled some all over my shoes and jeans.

I walked up smelling like gas, my hair disheveled, my teeth not brushed. My face was probably a battlefield of dirt and grime and grease.

I knocked on the front door praying to the god of boyfriends everywhere. I wished that her parents weren't there. I wished she wasn't an emotional wreck. I wished she wasn't already crying. I wished...

Ok, I hadn't wished for her breasts to be larger. I swear.

She opened the door and looked at me. She looked around me. Lee was sleeping, his feet sticking out of the passenger side window. I swear, the guy's some kind of saint.

"What are you..." she started to say. She sniffed the air a moment and smiled this ridiculous smile and lunged forward and kissed me.

"You got your job back!"

I was too stunned for words.

She started crying into my shirt. I didn't think that was too safe for the baby so I pushed her away lightly and took my shirt off.

"Baby, we can't do that here..." she said, shyly and demurely.

I winked, balled the shirt up and threw it towards my car. She brought me into the house so I could shower, change into some of her dad's clothes and talk. And other stuff.

The butterflies were gone.

Getting back was a bit easier. I borrowed a canister from her father (he didn't ask why)... got back after we made plans for her to move in. Her folks weren't too happy about it, but were happier than they had been. I called some old contacts and they said they would try and get me some freelance work. I called some gas stations who needed a grease monkey around and found two prospects.

I planned to buy a ton of Lysol to get my computer back.

I scrounged up some money to rent a van from a friend of a friend and persuaded Lee to help me move her stuff.

The guy who rented the van said it got shitty mileage, but should make the trip back and forth no problem.

I said cool and asked him if I could borrow the three gas canisters he had lying around his garage.


Hope you enjoyed it, folks. Keep the faith.

1 comment:

Nicole said...

I loved this story...I would love to read more of what you got. I understand your pain of retail-hell, I was stuck in it for years. Now luckily im in the restaurant business (ha yea right it sucks too)