When Flies Go Pigeon Shooting (Short Story)
Hey guys! This is a surreal short story I wrote. I hope it's open to interpretation. Thank you for taking the time to read :-)
All Mel could here when he opened his motel door was the hum of flies circling his room and the tap-tap as they collide into the window. He knew what to do in these circumstances. So he slid his briefcase full of leather office shoes onto the bedside table, took off his right mirror clean office shoe, and held it in the middle of the room. Maybe it was twenty seconds, but it was almost record time for his shoes as the flies begun to lower in flight. The humming droned out like a slow twirl of the volume button. Once they were a small collection of black spots on the floor, Mel sat on the edge of his bed. Dragging his thoughts back in as he tried to plan how he was going to sell in the city, but he couldn’t put his thoughts in line. The heat since he arrived in Boston was putting steam clouds in his brain and making his white shirt with piped blue become at one with his skin. He scanned the room for the quickest supply of cold air. Air con? Don’t have one. Fan? Not supplied. Shower? I don’t have the energy to get in and out. All that was left was the mini-bar propped against the wall in front of the bed. Mel leaned over and opened the mini-bar door. Inside were three rows of yellow and blue tinned lemonade – Larry’s Lemons! None drunk, I wonder why, thought Mel. He dropped the thought of drinking them and let his heavy body drop back onto the bed, the cool air to stroking his legs like a horny ghost. It was the first breeze since leaving Frampton. But as he relaxed he realised the high pitched buzzing sound was back. He looked around with heavy eyes, not making out any more flies though. Mel blew out his cheeks and closed his eyes.
When he woke it didn’t make much sense that not only his legs were cool, but his toe pads were cold too. He pushed himself up and saw his shoes were no longer on him, nor on the floor next to his bed. Nor by the mini-bar, and even that seemed to have the signature of the Boston Tea Leaf. A can of lemonade was missing. Mel did a lap of the room, but soon realised there was no forced entry at the door or bathroom window. And his wallet and cash were still intact. Mel could take a moment to unshackle himself from his thoughts, place him back in the moment. Think logically: what else should he expect in a place like this? A bum looking for shoes was probably common procedure. At least the high pitch buzzing has stopped, he thought.
Mel checked his watch: 11.40 am, shit, he was 20 minutes late. He grabbed his shoe cleaner kit and polished a pair of size 8 shoes - two sizes too small – from his briefcase and made sure the ‘scientific’ silver rubber band was fixed around the inner rim of the shoe before heading out of the door.
From the backseat of a taxi the black tinted windows of Boston’s Financial District felt as shady and obscure as a guy in the corner of a bar eyeballing you behind his shades. It was the first time Mel had been into the city. He had moved here from his small town in Dakota, Frampton on request from his manager at Tim’s Shoes to branch out the business and gather contacts from the city. Mel wasn’t fond of the idea. Tim’s Shoes was a generic business that only stands out because of one thing: their shoes are fitted with an electromagnetic band that scientists claim “boosts your confidence and happiness by shooting endorphins through your body when you feel down. Eventually re-training your neural pathways to always find the right idea/words and confidence for any situation … You’ll feel on top of the world … Also, the shoes have sheen of lack on the shoes that only bugs can smell, and unfortunately for them, takes ‘em down!” The problem is, Mel’s never witnessed these shoes doing any of those things apart from killing bugs, but they sell by the shed load in Frampton. The people don’t complain when the shoes magical powers don’t work, why? Because they’re the only shoe shop in town. And the people of his town are content as long as they can make it home to their white picket fence without leaving the sole stuck to the curb. They just laugh at what they call “magic mumbo”. But Mel knows if his shoes worked, he would be able to buy a house instead of sleeping in sleazy motels or under his desk. But in the city, surely people are going to slaughter the “magic mumbo”. And we’ll find out soon enough, thought Mel, as his taxi pulled up outside Woolworth.
When Mel stepped onto the curb all his eyes took in was a giant train station, no Woolworth. That’s bizarre, he thought, I spoke and got directions from the receptionist two days ago and this was the spot. Maybe it’s inside the station.
He skulked through the revolving door. The entrance was full of shops and a ticket office that had their shutters down. It was the middle of the day. There were feint echoes of voices in the distance where Mel reckoned the trains might be. But at that moment all he could see for about fifty yards in front were a line of wooden phone booths either side of a slim marble corridor. Mel bent his back as he as edged along the line, seeing polished work shoes poking out toe-first from under the hinged doors. The shoes were all black. All designer. All without crease marks. All pointing out of the booths like the person wearing them was actually a manikin propped against the door. All for a sick ‘welcome to the city!’ joke.
Mel finally reached the end of the booths and saw the main platform of the station. Sun stained cream walls were flecked with pink. Empty red train carts were puffing white smoke. The whole scene may have been a perfect template for the train station you would expect to wait at when you die. No one was getting on trains, only coming off. The scene wasn’t fully realised until Mel saw the crowd of people in long overcoats forming a circle as they looked upwards at a man smiling maniacally. He was holding onto one of the roofs black beam. The man’s brown overcoat and white and black shoes made him look like a giant moth from below. And Mel wished he could squish him like a moth as those black and white shoes could only be his. The crowd were in a hushed silence as the man above began to speak, “It’s these shoes. They made me fly!”
Like God blew on their heads, the crowd in unison looked down to their own shoes. Some jump in the air like a fish trying to feebly find the sea from the sand. Some whispered between themselves. One lady shouted, “prove it.”
Mel’s shook his head, but not in disapproval, but because moth man had let go of the beam and both his feet steadied in the air like it had found an invincible platform. Moth man crept a few steps and stopped when the audience applauded. He waved his arms for quiet and pointed down to Mel, “It was the idea of that man there. That man at the back, he’s the genius!”
The crowd snapped around, a man in a black overcoat at the front said, “Are you selling?”
Mel smiled with his teeth and adjusted his brown tweed jacket, “Yes sir, I was sent here to sell you these life improvement shoes.”
The crowd ran over, clapping shoes against the marble as they surrounded him, asking where they could buy? How do they work? Will I become a pathologist? Will my son be cured of MS? Is it magic or science? Is it a con? He didn’t answer the last one.
Mel handed out business cards. Allowed a lucky few to try on the sample shoes from his briefcase which he thought wouldn’t go well, but every person who tried them began to float. Some screaming, some speechless as they floated to moth man who was watching with arms folded and eyes scanning on his transparent ledge. Flies from the beams above began to drop to loud applause and laughter. After an hour or so, the press came down - journalists from the Boston Globe, Herald, Standard and Choice. They began to question him on how his shoes came to be? Who invented them? How will these shoes change people’s lives? And a rather unexpected question from Boston Choice: “are they a con?” Mel just shot him his teeth and said, “Does it look like a con?”
By the end of the day he had explained to every reporter, customer, passerby, cop, shoe cleaner and train driver how “Tim’s Shoes provide you with the confidence to live your life up high.” That one he made up – spur of the moment inspiration. And if there was one thing he became clear of in the city, it was that everyone wanted to know the details of how his shoes worked. By midnight he was standing in the virtually empty station – apart from a few cleaners - with pockets bulging business cards, telephone numbers on newspapers and handkerchiefs from rich businessmen wanting a piece of Mel, or more likely Tim’s Shoes.
That’s when Mel locked eyes to the burly man in the dark green tweed jacket. His trousers were a darker green and his skin was blotched with red patches. He looked as though he’d grown from moss in the stations tunnels. Moss Man had been there for at least the last half an hour before the crowds of gawked customers had fled home to tell their families and friends about Tim’s Shoes! Moss Man stood with hands in pockets in the rod of dusk light emanating from the steep windows. Moss Man waited for Mel to skulk to about a metre away from him before letting his completely unexpected high pitch voice demand Mel to “come with him.” There was “something” he needed to explain, but that the “something” could not be explained here.
Mel asked who he was. He got out a small white plastic card with black writing. He stated that he was a pick-up driver named Lars for a new Boston newspaper. Mel asked why he can’t just talk here about his shoes. Lars remained a face made of tight leather skin unwilling, or unable to raise emotion. Mel followed him out onto the curb. The street was more like a deserted film set, each building dark and lifeless. Mel slipped into Lars’ black Sedan, keeping an eye on Lars encase he tried something screwy. Ten minutes later they were driving through the city, Mel piping up the courage to ask, “So what do I need to know.”
Lars kept his focus on the road like to eagles were pulling his retinas with string. He left a big gap of silence before saying, “When light grows, the corners kept some shade.”
“Is that what I’m supposed to know?”
“There.” He pointed towards a green hill in the distance with a small white protruding building. It seemed strange the way it sat along the top of the hill alone, like it had spawned from a lucid dream.
Lars pulled up next to the curb on top of the hill. You could see the city from there albeit through a haze. Lars opened Mel’s door and waited for him to climb out, frowning at his feet, but not adding words to the frown as he re-focused his focus on a white painted chapel, Lars said, “What you need to know is in there.”
“Are you waiting here?” replied Mel.
Lars blew out his cheeks and leant his ass on the bonnet and nodded towards the chapel. Mel reached into to pick out his briefcase, but Lars told him he won’t need it. He will only be quick.
Mel knocked on the door which was enough force for it to open all the way. Mel lead with his head pointing out like a new student looking for the right class. But there weren’t many rooms to snoop, as he went through the doorway the chapel was more like one room. A dining room. A large tablecloth and a row of big windows covered in white curtains were to the left. And to the right were two wooden doors. Mel could hear a high pitched buzz and the intermittent sound of a type writer tapping. He walked further in the room and tripped as he began to pass a table. He held himself by the next chair, and felt his trouser leg become wet. He looked around to the chair he tripped on and saw a can of Larry’s Lemons! dripping from the edge of the table. He must have knocked it, but the relief didn’t last long as he saw that was the same lemonade from his motel. Without much time to think, out of one of the doors came a man, well, his head was not of a man, but of a flies. It walked towards Mel with a newspaper in hand. Mel backed up so his backside was pressing the table. The fly/man starred at him - if it was staring at him, it was hard to tell - with its forty plus eyes all looking like mini TV screens from a news station. It held out the newspaper so Mel could make out the main headline: Everyone Believes What We Write. The fly/man held out it’s free hand, and in it were a dozen flies, laying dead. Mel felt a pinch on his arm and saw a fly stationed on his arm. Its proboscis firmly wedged in. Fly/man spotted Mel confused look and said, “What? Don’t the flies do that where you come from?”
Mel clenched his teeth as the pinch turned into a searing pain, and he clamped his arm with his other hand. The pain suddenly flushed away as the fly pulled out its proboscis. Then the fly/man walked back into the other room. The typing sound started again.
Mel brushed his suit, corrected his tie like he was about to make a sale and tried to open the door to the typing room but it was locked. Forget these guys; he told himself, this isn’t worth it. He got outside and saw Lars was gone. In the spot where his car was were pigeons pecking at the ground. A police cruiser drove by with its lights off, thankfully. As it passed the pigeons scattered into the dusk sky. Mel fully decided. He wasn’t following them.