Is a Picture Worth a Thousand Words? Entry #12

April 27th, 2009 by Wordsman


Jon was not enjoying the rain.  The wind had twisted his cheap umbrella inside out a long time ago, meaning that he looked and felt more like a drowning victim than a normal person, but this was not his chief concern; the tattered remnants of his umbrella were being used to shield his backpack.  The weather report called for rain, so Jon had left his laptop at home, but now his textbooks, notebooks, and other paper-based school materials were in serious danger of becoming soggy to the point of being unreadable.  So it’s completely understandable that when he attempted to open his door and failed, he became a little agitated.

Checking first to make sure that he had undone the lock, Jon gripped the doorknob and heaved his weight against it.  The door moved inward, but only slightly; it quickly shut again with a strange bouncing motion that was accompanied by an even stranger squeaking sound that called to mind something made of rubber.  This did not reassure Jon at all.

He weighed his options.  He could try calling his roommates on the inside, but even if they answered there was no guarantee that it would produce the results he was looking for.  It certainly wasn’t likely to get the door open quickly.  No, this was one of those desperate times that called for desperate measures.  Jon walked back down the steps, took a deep breath, spat out the water that got in his mouth, and ran full speed at the door.

The door swung inward, sending a great quantity of . . . something flying, and was followed shortly afterward by Jon, who skidded, tripped on an unidentified object, and collapsed.  He kicked the door shut and then lay there for a few seconds, letting his brain recover so that he could figure out what the heck had just happened.  His first priority: identifying what he had landed on.  It was not, as he might have expected, the floor.

Jon picked up one of the things and stared at it.  “Shoes?” he asked blearily.  His head was a little fuzzy from the two recent impacts.  There were shoes under him.  There were shoes on the foosball table.  There were shoes on the back of the couch, where his two roommates were engaged in their usual afternoon activity: being glued to the TV for hours on end.  Or rather, where they had been gazing mindlessly at the television until Jon made his dramatic entrance.

But where had they come from?  The shoes, that is, not the roommates.  Jon owned three pairs of shoes, which was at least one pair more than either of the other two did, and yet there were dozens of shoes scattered around the room, none of which looked familiar.  When his own brain failed him, he was forced to put the question to the two men who were sitting on the couch, staring at him as if he had just gone berserk and knocked down the door, which, technically, he had.

“Why are there so many shoes here?” Jon asked.  At the moment he was too confused to even be mad.

“We’ve been collecting them,” Dave explained matter-of-factly.

“But . . . why?”

“They came to us,” said Jordan.

“But . . . what?”  Jon had known ahead of time how difficult it would be to get an answer out of these guys, but he hadn’t known how literally painful it would be when he tried to do it shortly after hitting his head.

“We don’t know where they came from,” said Dave.  He got up from the couch and very slowly, very carefully removed one of the shoes that had ended up between the poles on the foosball table, making sure not to disturb the position of a single player.  It was the most delicate thing Jon had ever seen him do.  Then Dave hurled the shoe into the corner by the door.

“They just started showing up in front of the place a while ago,” he continued while performing a slightly less precise extraction of a sneaker that had gotten wedged into one of the goals.  “Being carried along by the water running along the side of the street.  We figured that they’d just get ruined out there, and somebody might come looking for them, so we brought them inside.  We were going to put up a sign about it when the rain stopped.”

Very strange things were transpiring.  A multitude of shoes had mysteriously floated along the rain runoff to arrive in front of their door.  Even weirder, his roommates were acting selflessly.  Was this deluge actually the end of the world?  Jon tried to clear his head by shaking it, but all that he accomplished was to make Dave and Jordan cringe when some of the droplets from his hair went in the direction of the foosball table.  “And why were they all stacked right in front of the door?” he asked wearily.

“You always tell us to take off our shoes when we come into the house,” Jordan admonished him.

“Right.”  It didn’t make any sense, but Jon didn’t have the will to fight the nonsense at that point.  “I’m going to go upstairs now, to . . . study,” he said, though actually he felt like he needed a nap to allow his brain to reset after the madness.

The upstairs door shut quietly.  “Damn,” said Jordan.  “He’s going to yell at us to turn the volume down now, isn’t he?”

“When does he ever not?”  Dave shook his head.  “Man, I never expected him to actually body slam the door.  I’m kinda impressed.”

“Impressed enough to turn down the sound while he’s studying?”

Dave thought about it for a second.  “No.  You go tell your football buddies playing out there in the mud that we’re going to need their shoes a while longer.  I’m going to go pile them in front of his room so he can’t get out.”

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