Socks With Birkenstocks

Socks With Birkenstocks

A Story by Xuru
"

Fighting the uphill battle that is age.

"
What is left of our thinning hair and yellow fingertips? The occasional twitch in your pants to better days when we were young men and our arms filled out the sleeves.

Rough hands, big feet and thick legs. Strong men.

At least that’s what Richard thought. His boy stopped visiting, the shrubs need trimming and his eyes dry out faster than they ever did before. At least that’s what he tells himself, but then maybe that’s what we all tell ourselves when our bodies crumble.

Every Sunday he slips on his runners and eats his usual marmalade spread, smoking his Putters down to the butt. He would often run the shower while he slept, dreaming of bathing women too slippery to fondle as he rubbed his c**k under the sheets.

Richard’s pride and joy however was mystery novels and true crime. He spent his days pouring over whatever he could get his hands on from Irving’s Bookstore. He’s particularly fond of “Blue Eyes”, a paperback written by Salvador Grey and arguably his best to date. Despite not fitting into the latter categories, it’s a love story as much as a murder mystery.

As you share in the brief romance and tread lightly during their fights you grow a sense of familiarity, that you are Marco and Felicia is yours. That the impending doom forgotten but still there. Waiting. Watching.

Richard always identified and touched the words as if maybe there were clues hidden between the lines, hoping to save her. The story progresses over the course of Marco’s life as he vows to find out what has become of her.

Maybe Marco discovers the truth, but Richard never could bring himself to read further. Always closing the cover on page 540 and stowing it away in his teakwood nightstand.

It was at this time on Sunday an idea had occurred. It had happened over a steady rainfall. The same clouds that flew the skies in times of desperate measure.

An adventure.

Not like his yearly visits to the sunshine state, and not like his usual seat at the poker tables. But a vacation from twenty four hour news stations and bran muffins.

He wanted to listen to the sounds of his empty stomach with nowhere to sleep, to let his toenails grow and even if it’s just once, to lay in the sand with a young woman. Someone like Felicia.

His life was the life lived by many and he knew it. The same old story traced in the dirt by someone else with a bigger stick.

He thumped the table with his fist in a fit of anger, spilling over a cup of orange juice.

“I suppose that’s a start.”



After compiling a long list of potential vacation spots written on a legal pad. He flexed his pen between his fingers, hovering in a fixed dementia while violently scratching out Belize from the list.

Travel brochures stacked on top of one another tower over his hunched figure. The mesh receptacle growls hungrily at his shoes, he feeds it Tokyo before thumbing the leaflet across from him. The glossy pages transfix him in a way that a pubescent child might first notice the opposite sex.

This is it he thought. He eagerly consumed his eggs, tracing the yolk with his fork as he punched in the travel agency’s number.

A dial tone away from freedom.


It’s been hours since the flight touched down, but only minutes for Richard to sniff out a bar.

Etched in bold white letters reads “Ruba,” dilapidated and peeling under the tired eyes of the whites and blacks crawling into their holes. Richard wrinkles his nose sucking in the exhaust fumes, one hand on a patio chair and the other slicking back what's left of his hair.

An arrow points to a splintered door propped open with a brick. It’s quiet, but the murmuring and faint clattering of glasses lure him closer.

The pub itself was dim, the sea of heads grew with each passing minute. They bounced from table to table, laughter erupting, drinks flowing and chins dribbling. He tugged his belt tight across his gut, Richard grinned and slouched back into his chair cackling among the youth.


He could feel his chest tighten into complicated knots, the surgical incisions still visible through the buttons of his shirt like a road map of blue veins and white scars. Richard looked around frantically for a paradise only a bathroom stall could offer. The white knuckled fist clenched his heart into a vice. He waved to the closest soul he could and pleaded till his words bounced off their back and onto the floor.

“Excuse me, sir” he was desperate now, but nobody heard him.

His eyes zeroed in to the familiar man on revolving door. A universal sign loved in all languages. It wasn’t long before he found himself on his hands, crawling on the piss stained - concrete floor. He steadied himself against the stall, falling through the door and collapsing onto the toilet.

Freeing the top four buttons, he mopped the sweat from his face and focused his breathing. The fist in his rib cage loosened and retracted back to the shadows. Richard sat paralyzed on his throne gasping for air, listening to the penny motors clink by in the retracting sun.

The man looking back in the cracked mirror was someone he’d grown to understand, maybe even hate. He traced the crevices in his face to the sunken eyes, he would hollow them out and never see this harsh reality again.

Smoothing his hair flat he shuffled back to his table to see a new face.

Offering a hand, Richard introduced himself. The stranger says his name is Jorge and not much else, only that he works at an old publication.


“You’re American,” he says finally.

Richard nods, flattening a roach with his thumb.

“A woman died here in this very pub ya know. The man shot her in the mouth, no less than a few weeks ago.”

“Yeah?” Richard uncorks another bottle.

“Just outside there,” he motions toward the far side of the pub.

Nothing is said for some time. Minutes pass and the two men cradle their drinks, staring into them as if the truth is submerged. The safety net shrinks rapidly into the gaping bullet hole in the wall, and the Portuguese tongues lap up the rest.

Jorge treads the silence with garbled stories of the transient. His voice drones to the wobbling of a loose ceiling fan and some buzzing flies. If only one were to fly into his mouth..

“What was her name?”

Jorge only raised an eyebrow.

“Does it matter?”

“No. I guess it doesn't,” draining the cheap swill he shakes Jorge's hand and bids him a hasty farewell. A farewell he would have swiftly offered him, but now the sun is gone and night has flooded the streets.




The labyrinth of favelas runs deep and the music swells. Large bottomed beauties look for tourists to push up on, their hips swing in a devilishly hypnotic trance.

Jorge was nowhere in sight, thundering bass exploded into the air crashing around him. It was an invitation and a warm voice in a cold night, but above all it was a start to something uncertain.

Squeezing his eyes shut he sees them, mouthless women standing in the streets with holes in their heads. Eyes like black buttons staring under the cover of darkness. Staring at Richard. They share it all under the night sky. He tells them they are beautiful, they say nothing back. It’s quiet now, he can hear his own breath begin to slow and his toes curl.

Did Jorge put something in my drink? Think old man! He could feel his heart wrap around his throat as he choked out feebly to the mouthless women, but the streets are empty. Only the music remains. It’s faint but still there like a blip on a heart monitor.

Richard cranes his neck back to Ruba one last time. Looking for something familiar, listening for a voice to laugh and curse out his name. There was no cursing and there was no laughter, an abrupt and explosive applause startled him. The mouthless women were back and they clapped in the streets. He blew each lady a kiss goodnight, taking off toward what he thought was Rochina.





He crawled until his two ghoulish feet spilled over sand and rock. How long had it been? His memory never shook in all the years he set alarms and celebrated birthdays, but time seemed elastic, forever shrouded in a thick fog.

Richard’s own wiry frame hung in unison to the dead branches dipping low into the earth. “Where’s all the lights, the fights and the woman too lonely to commit to just one night?” He sat defeated in one awkward heap, face in his hands like he did so long ago.

Words echoed and bounced around in the darkest corners of his brain. Vacant expressions and faces looking through him, the lonely walks and long days waiting for his return. But to return to what exactly?

Those around him dead or dying, and the rest trading their lives in exchange for a cheque. He counted himself among the flock, but not tonight. He would drink on this beach, smoke and make love in the rolling shores of the tide. The moon would smile down on him and whisper dirty things in his ear.


First things first, Richard thought. “I need to unlock my knees.”










© 2017 Xuru



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Author's Note

Xuru
Be nice and enjoy.

My Review

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Featured Review

The problem you face is that you're telling this story in the same words you would were you with the reader—explaining the events and characters. But our medium won't support that.

In person, your voice would be filled with emotion. You would vary intensity, cadence, and more, using all the tricks of verbal storytelling to add emotion. And that, in addition to providing that emotion, clarifies word meaning. When you say, "At least that’s what Richard thought." you mean it as in his holding that view. But it could also mean he had those words as a thought in the moment he calls "now." Without hearing your tone it's harder to tell which one was your intended meaning. But because our medium doesn't reproduce sound, the reader gets only what a test to speech program would provide. Have your computer read the piece aloud and you'll hear what I mean.

Making matters worse, the reader can't see your performance, either. So there are no facial expressions, hand gestures, body language, or eye movements, either.

Because our medium is so different from others, the methods we use in telling a story are, and must be, very different from the nonfiction skills we learned in our school days.

In fiction for the page we don't talk ABOUT the story, we present it, moment-by-moment, in the viewpoint of the protagonist not the narrator. The goal isn't to make readrs know the events, it's to make them live them, as an emotional, not an informative experience. Were this a horror story, for example, the reader doesn't want to be told that the protagonist is afraid, They want you to make THEM afraid to turn out the lights. And that takes a very different approach, one that wasn't even mentioned in our school days—one we must learn and perfect. For an overview of the issues involved, you might want to dig around in the articles in my writing blog. And to acquire the specialized knowledge of our profession, visit the fiction writing section of the local library. Look for the names, Dwight Swain, Jack Bickham, or Debra Dixon. They're gold.

Hang in there, and keep on writing,

Jay Greenstein
https://jaygreenstein.wordpress.com/category/the-craft-of-writing/



Posted 6 Days Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

JayG

2 Days Ago

• However I don't think there is a set way to write.

The thing about belief is tha.. read more
This comment has been deleted by the poster.
Xuru

2 Days Ago

Writing is more therapeutic for me than anything else.

That being said, I wouldn't c.. read more



Reviews

Be nice? If we are to be honest how could we not be nice? You are very talented. You know how to hold your audience. YOU ROCK!

Posted 19 Hours Ago


Xuru

17 Hours Ago

Aha. Is that sarcasm?
Ms.Quoted

13 Hours Ago

I guess its kinda sarcasm. But I genuinely enjoyed the piece. Sincerely I think you rock... Its good.. read more
I actually enjoyed this. The way you thread words onto the parchment shows that you indeed have talent. The story to me had a sort of self awareness about that showed through and the imagery was precise. Just one thing; try to make your context a little more clear. I know it is a short story and it doesn't have to have a past present or future to be good. But outline to the reader a little more where the character is, why they're doing what they're doing and how this will then impact their future actions throughout the stories. All without being too precise. You had the exact approach in that you didn't give too much away but you can do that and still give context. I enjoyed it however and I'll for sure look out from more writing from you.

Posted 1 Day Ago


Xuru

17 Hours Ago

Happy to hear it.

I need to write more than I do.
Thank you! i really enjoyed reading that. It sparks a familiarity with me that is both enlightening and frightening. Only it is not my body that i cannot fix. While Richard fights the ever present turmoil of decay and age, i fight over the slipping from a man of pure compassion to a man of overwhelming anger. Writing for me is about inspiring emotion and understanding of our own struggles. This writing did that well.

Posted 3 Days Ago


Xuru

2 Days Ago

Thank you so much, means a lot my friend.
HakiSac

1 Day Ago

My pleasure. Keep writing bud.
Beautiful words and magnificent descriptions! A truly, good read.

Posted 4 Days Ago


Xuru

2 Days Ago

Glad you enjoyed it.
The problem you face is that you're telling this story in the same words you would were you with the reader—explaining the events and characters. But our medium won't support that.

In person, your voice would be filled with emotion. You would vary intensity, cadence, and more, using all the tricks of verbal storytelling to add emotion. And that, in addition to providing that emotion, clarifies word meaning. When you say, "At least that’s what Richard thought." you mean it as in his holding that view. But it could also mean he had those words as a thought in the moment he calls "now." Without hearing your tone it's harder to tell which one was your intended meaning. But because our medium doesn't reproduce sound, the reader gets only what a test to speech program would provide. Have your computer read the piece aloud and you'll hear what I mean.

Making matters worse, the reader can't see your performance, either. So there are no facial expressions, hand gestures, body language, or eye movements, either.

Because our medium is so different from others, the methods we use in telling a story are, and must be, very different from the nonfiction skills we learned in our school days.

In fiction for the page we don't talk ABOUT the story, we present it, moment-by-moment, in the viewpoint of the protagonist not the narrator. The goal isn't to make readrs know the events, it's to make them live them, as an emotional, not an informative experience. Were this a horror story, for example, the reader doesn't want to be told that the protagonist is afraid, They want you to make THEM afraid to turn out the lights. And that takes a very different approach, one that wasn't even mentioned in our school days—one we must learn and perfect. For an overview of the issues involved, you might want to dig around in the articles in my writing blog. And to acquire the specialized knowledge of our profession, visit the fiction writing section of the local library. Look for the names, Dwight Swain, Jack Bickham, or Debra Dixon. They're gold.

Hang in there, and keep on writing,

Jay Greenstein
https://jaygreenstein.wordpress.com/category/the-craft-of-writing/



Posted 6 Days Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

JayG

2 Days Ago

• However I don't think there is a set way to write.

The thing about belief is tha.. read more
This comment has been deleted by the poster.
Xuru

2 Days Ago

Writing is more therapeutic for me than anything else.

That being said, I wouldn't c.. read more
[send message][befriend] Subscribe
j
kk I'll be nice. The title drew me~who hasn't rolled their eyes at such a blight on coolness. Puleeze . . .

Aging is not for the weak and your expose highlights the tragedy of failing bodies in stark contrast to the brain's insistence that indeed, we ARE still 20 years old. [umm no thank you] Your writing has such natural movement that it's easy to become involved and believe the character's denial of and struggle with growing old, fear of becoming irrelevant, hating the reflection in the mirror, losing the battle of time ... facing our own mortality. Evocative story, enjoyed it!




Posted 1 Week Ago


Xuru

6 Days Ago

Oh I see, so you wanted to be mean lol.
Great job well done! Age, it truly is what you make it. Settle down and be content? Or raise some Hell and represent!

You can live in the future, enjoy the present, and smile at the past. All while massaging your knees. I enjoyed your story. Thanks for sharing.

Posted 1 Week Ago


Xuru

1 Week Ago

Appreciate it : )
Loved the descriptive nature of this. I am in love with the first person writing. I can write an essay style and it feels real to people. That is how it felt to me. Great job!

Posted 1 Week Ago


Xuru

1 Week Ago

Thanks Kessel!
I really enjoyed reading this . Its a beautiful story. Your descriptions were excellent. I am looking forward to reading more from you.

Posted 1 Week Ago


Xuru

1 Week Ago

Thank you! Will keep them coming.
Interesting and great read. I interpreted it as a man reminiscing about his younger days and having a desire to relive them again. I liked the vocabulary usage you used. Smooth flow! Keep up the excellent work.

Posted 1 Week Ago


Xuru

1 Week Ago

Thank you Emily, glad you liked it.

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384 Views
14 Reviews
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Shelved in 2 Libraries
Added on October 9, 2017
Last Updated on October 9, 2017
Tags: Short, story, writing, sex, life, cafe, writer, travel, death, dark, ghosts, crime, Birkenstocks

Author

Xuru
Xuru

Canada



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