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“Dogma!”
I rolled out of bed to find my brown patent blüchers, my favorite pair, perfectly worn, molded to fit like a sock sprawled in the middle of the floor. They were nothing but an inside out corpse. Leathery skin laced with strings of intestines. No remains of a heart or sole. Teeth marks imprinted the face like cheeks that have fallen asleep on a hard surface for too long, the exception being these impressions were permanent. I instantly knew the culprit. Dogma. I should really call her Mutt-ma. She, the precious and only gift I was to inherit from my ex-wife’s will, otherwise known as a divorce contract. But that’s another inside-out corpse… Now, Dogma is a full grown woman, much too old to be snacking on footwear. Actually, allow me to contradict myself, I’ve learned far too well, a woman is never too old to destroy a man’s prized possession. Even if it’s his only, even if it’s the shirt off his back, in this case the shoe off his foot. My stomach interrupted my thoughts, roaring for its morning coffee. And that’s when it hit me. I didn’t feed Dogma. I’ve been so busy lately I’ve forgotten to feed myself. I could almost rationalize why my blüchers had replaced kibbles n’ bits. Even further, came the realization that neglect was usually followed by a casualty, be it a shoe or relationship. “Dogma ate my karma.” What a morning of parallels.
It was 7 a.m. and the pity party was already in full swing. I went and fetched the morning paper, praying for a front page headline screaming that someone’s life was worse than mine. And that’s when I saw it. On my door-stop lay a shoebox with no outside identification to be seen. Curious, I took it inside, and upon opening it found wrapped in tissue, a pair of loafers I had never seen before. Tucked in the tongue was a slip of paper, unfolding it I read in all black capital letters “Walk a mile in ‘em.” “Strange” is an understatement, so is “mysterious”. I asked myself all of the obvious questions like, “Where did these come from?,” “Who were they sent by?,” and a more familiar question, “Why me?.” Dogma sniffed at them, apparently they weren’t as appetizing because she gave up and looked at me as if to say, “Why not walk a mile and see what happens?” “Hmm”, I thought to myself, “I could surely use the fresh air, and it wouldn’t hurt Dogma to burn off those shoe calories.” In an act of redemption to my girl, I donned the loafers and leash, and headed out the door.
You’re not going to believe this, but I swear to you, these shoes had a mindsole of their own. The shoes wore me. I had no control or direction in where we went. We walked in a pattern of design closely resembling the one on the outsole. Casting around sidewalks, the shoes and Dogma had me choking by the collar, flying past back alleys, shops, restaurants, blurring by dozens of faces until I was brought to focus on one. A little girl stood in front of me. I had never seen this girl, and I knew she had never seen me, for the child was blind. Still, there was something in the way she stood, expectantly, like, I had kept her waiting. The girl wore no shoes and the painfully beautiful thing found in all children is that she didn’t seem to care. In her small, soiled hands she held out to me, a box, similar to the one I received earlier that morning. No larger than my foot by hers, and without her handwriting. Before I could repeat the questions I couldn’t answer before, the girl and Dogma seemed to have disappeared. Carefully I opened the box, and at the bottom lay a black eye patch, like a pirate I dressed as, a little boy many Halloweens ago. Stuck to the side was another folded sheet of paper. “The world’s not half bad.” I smiled and put it on. I saw Dogma running towards me. And the little girl winked.
And that’s when I realized that sometimes the best way you can put yourself in someone else’s shoes is to go barefoot. Nothing makes you appreciate soft skin like a few blisters. And sometimes you have to be blinded to have real insight. A child made me see. No longer needing the shoes to guide me, I took them off. And feeling the cool concrete against the bare of my souls with Dogma at my heel we headed home. 1234 North Main Street.





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