Anyone- The Shoe Maker With the Wine Bottle In the alley

The Shoemaker

With a Wine Bottle

In the Alley   

     Completing a tidy little row of studs on the new left heel of a Florsheim and simultaneously worrying about finances, Gustav sat hunched over the workbench in his cramped shop. He never tired of its comforting smell of leather, lindseed oil and other people's feet, but his concern that the bank might soon clean it out had put pockets under his eyes and new lines on his face.

    The bell that he had helped his father hook over the door in 1951 chimed, and the shoemaker lifted his bleary eyes to see Mr. Buchanan at the counter.

    "How's business, Gus?" he asked, opening the routine they had used as a greeting for years.


    "Your heart and sole, huh?" smiled Mr. Buchanan.

    "You needling me?" mumbled Gus obediently.

    "If the shoe fits," Mr. Buchanan guffawed, as he always did on that last line.

    As Gus approached the counter, he looked down in surprise at a pin-prick of blood on his index finger. He felt a great sadness, since he couldn't remember the last time he'd cobbled clumsily. His customer was explaining a rush job; something about stitching a monogram on new boots for his girlfriend.

    "Got her a real expensive bottle of wine, too," he added. He giggled that he was going to hide it in one of the boots.

     "Can you do it while I wait, Gus?" he asked, placing a pair of stiff leather cowboy boots on the counter. "Just get her name right. It's Bamby, but with a Y." Gus nodded and reached for the heavy filament line from the steepled spools under the counter. He deftly looped it to a Number Eight awl, which he sank into the heavy cowhide of the empty boot as Mr. Buchanan began his usual complaint about the neighbourhood.

     "There's a scraggly gang of hoboes in your alley again, and I don't even feel safe leaving my Lexus right outside your door," he said. "I especially didn't want to leave my wine in the car. Them bums'll kill just to drink aftershave."

    Gus completed one boot and lifted the other to eye height, leaving the bottle inside to give him a solid backing for his first stab with the awl.

    "Careful, Gus. That's a Chateau Lafitte 84. Forty bucks a bottle," said Mr. Buchanan with a wink that froze at the sudden whooping scream of a car alarm. He cursed, spun, and rumbled for the door, sending the little bell into a rattle. Clutching the heavy boot with its half-stitched B, Gus rose from his stool and heard Mr. Buchanan bellow about his new GPS. Then he heard the sound of running footsteps.

    Gus blinked his eyes and ran for the shop's side door. He  shouldered the door open and sprang out  just as the filament reached the end of the spool, went taut, and yanked the boot out of Gus's hands, freeing the forty dollar bottle of Chateau Lafitte to gracefully loop twice in the air before striking Mr. Buchanan squarely in the temple, its heavy bottom side first.

    He went down with a surprised grunt. He struck the pavement with the back of his head and bounced heavily twice, like a bocce ball.

    The police reported that the old tailor was having financial trouble and that the victim's wallet and car were missing,

    "He's definitely a person of interest," said a spokesman. "We'll find him."


The End

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