A wish for rugged boots

The sweat beaded down their brows as their bare feet scraped against the pavement, their bindles over their shoulders and a glazed look in their eyes.
“If it isn’t Drew & Drake!” A guy named Billy beamed with a grin, “Fancy seein’, you two here!” Billy looked them up and down and noted their bare dirty feet, “Living on hard times are we?”
Drew wiped at his brow with the back of his hand, “Nah!” Drew scratched his belly under his vest, “We done a good deed, ain’t we, Drake?” he said, nudging his pal.
“We got clothes on our backs,” Drake started, “So we thought we’d give up some of our less necessary items.” Drake grinned, a few teeth missing in his mouth.
Billy laughed, “And shoes ain’t necessary, are they?”
“Look at them apes, them er, chimps. They don’t wear shoes!” Drew said with a smug smile.
“Thee don’t wear pants or vest neither.”
Drew’s brows drew together, his eyes glazed over more so than earlier, “Oh yea!” He exclaimed, “Thanks, man!” Drew slapped Billy on the back in that brotherly fashion men do.
“The point is,” Drake began, “We did a good deed which brings us good karma in the future, you know what I mean?”
Billy shook his head with a chuckle, “You two do make me laugh!”
“It’s good to make people laugh,” Drew nodded his head.
Drake rolled his eyes, “Drew, he aint laughing with us, he’s laughing at us like they always do!”
Drew’s face reddened and screwed into anger, “You what? You laughin’ at us? What you laugin’ at us fer! Yer quite laughable yerself! Dick’ead!”
“I’m not the one walking along the street in the 21st century with bindles strewn across me shoulder, in bare feet cuz I donated the only shoes I had to bloody charity shop! Ha!” “Hey, mate, what good you ever done in your life? Eh? You can laugh, but we’re the guys who have little yet still try to ‘elp where we can. We ‘ave bare feet, and so what about it? It feels quite good actually! Really grounds ya!” Drake said, doing a little tap dance and then lunging forward to show how free his movement was without shoes on, “We got the right t’ bare feet jus’ like them, Americans got their rights to bare arms!” Drake said, humour deep in his a little less glazed over eyes than Drew’s, “And look at you, bet you got them human feet instead of these beasty boys!” Drake karate kicked the air.
“Drake, you’ve got human feet too. He can see you know!”
Drake stopped in his tracks and slapped his pal across the head, “It’s a fucking play on words, dumbo! I got bear feet, ya get it?”
“We both have bare feet!”
“Yes we do, Drew! We have BEAR feet. And we could kick Mr Billy boy here into yesterday with ’em.”
“I’m sure you wouldn’t need to kick, the smell’ll do it!” Billy said sarcastically.
“I think wearing shoes makes our feet smell bad, it’s all that sweating around in closed spaces. Bet my feet smell less than…”
“Drake,” Drew pawed at his friend’s elbow trying to pull him to the side.
“WHAT?” Drake roared, “What now.”
“Ah…Ah…I think I left mah soul in mah shoes.”
Billy’s head rolled along with his eyes, “Ya what? Ha! Aren’t shoes meant to have soles!”
“No, ya idiot!” Drake flicked Billy on his forehead, “He’s left his soul in his shoes!” Drake turned to Drew, “What ya leave ya soul there fer! Ya bleeding nutjob!”
“Aye, aye!” A voice hollered from across the road, “What you three lads up to? Hope you’re not causing trouble,” he beamed as he crossed the road.
“Alex,” Drew said dully.
“Alright, Drew! So what you all up to?”
“We’re off to get Drews Soul back from the charity shop. Ha!” Billy told him.
“Oh no,” Alex shook his head, “You’ve not sold your soul to charity ‘ave ya?”
“I didn’t mean to! But I left it in mah shoes!” Drew whined.
“What shoe did ya leave it in?” Alex asked jutting his chin.
“Me right shoe.”
Alex scratched at his stubble, “Ah. Can’t ‘ave been yours then!”
“What can’t ‘ave been?” Drake asked curiosity piqued.
“I just saw a shoe walking down that ginnel near the chippy, ya know where ah mean?”
“Oh aye,” Drake stroked his beard.
“What colour was it?” Drew asked.
“Brown. Come to think of it, it wouldn’t be your shoe mate. It was one of them oxford shoes. Ya know, all rich and posh like. Wingtips an’ all.”
“I seen a homeless man wearing wingtip oxfords. At least ah think he were homeless. He had odd socks on!” Billy added.
“Nah. He ain’t homeless! I know who ya mean, but he ain’t homeless. But he ain’t rich neither.” Turning to Drew, “What colour were ya shoes?”
“Black.”
Alex’s jaw dropped, “Oh no! See if I were to leave my soul in a shoe, I’d make sure it was brown or a trainer or somethin’ ya know? But never a black one! I’d never leave my soul in a black shoe!”
“What does the…” Billy shook his head not believing he was about to entertain the question, “What does the colour of the shoe have to do with leaving ya fuckin’ soul in it?”
“Billy,” Alex held up the palms of his hands as if in surrender, “Billy, mate. Calm down! I’m just sayin’ if I left me soul in a shoe I’d want to leave it in a brown one. Hell, I wouldn’t mind leaving it in a wing tipped oxford shoe, as long as it’s brown.”
“You lot are out of your minds!”
“I do like brown shoes,” Drew said aloud absentmindedly.
“I saw a pair of boots walking down the cobbled street at the back of the bakers, the owner must’ve had a split soul or somethin’ to have two souls in both boots.”
“I wish I’d left my soul in a pair of rugged boots.” Drew intoned sadly, “But instead I left my soul in me right shoe and it was black an all!”
“I’d get to that charity shop quick sharpish,” Alex clapped his hands together to emphasise his point. Turning to Billy with a grin, “What kinda shoe would you leave your soul in?”
“Souls don’t exist chickenshit.”
“Course they do! How else did those shoes I’ve seen walking about come to life?”
“Cause you’re fucking high or mental or both!” Billy scoffed.
“Maybe they’re just trying to find their socks,” Drew thought aloud.
Drake and Alex looked at Drew as if he’s just said the most genius thing they’d ever heard, “Ya might be onto something!”
“Ya know what,” Alex started excitedly, “Ya might have left ya soul in your sock but thought ya left it in ya shoe.”
“Well why don’t you go back up t’ the charity shop and follow the shoe to the sock! Ha!” Billy roared with laughter.
“That’s a good idea!” Drake replied.
“So those walking shoes didn’t have souls in them? They were just animated to look for socks?” Alex said with disappointment. “I was hoping that I could leave me soul in a brown oxford shoe!”
“If ya can leave your soul in a sock, ya can surely leave ya soul in a shoe too?” Drake patted Alex on the back, “Come on mate! Cheer up! Ya can still leave ya soul in a brown oxford shoe!”
“Ya know I think I might have left me soul in that black sock I lost!”
“Will ya stop leaving ya soul in black!” Drake muttered.

That night as Drew and Drake muttered their nonsense inside of sleep, and Alex lay on the floor snoring a black sock snaked across the road and a black shoe went chasing after it, and that black shoe gobbled up the sock ferociously, and the only witness to the shoes savage ways was Billy.

Seeking courage

“I saw him in the shadows, Sir.”
The man Scar spoke with had alcohol on his breath, fingerless gloves on his hands and his dirty fingers shook and poked at the wall they stood beside. “I saw him a few times, I should have followed. But, I never could be that man, Scar.”
Scar was named so because the entirety of his left face was scarred round the edges of a tablet screen. The tablet screen just looked to have been shoved into his face willy-nilly, but it was surgically put there. His face constantly glowed on that one side, the screen full of scratches and cracks.  This was the only source of light for the two men as they stood in the alleyway between the pub and the backs of poor filthy houses. “I was supposed to follow.” The man repeated, shaking even more. “I couldn’t do it.” A tear streamed down his dirty face.
“The truth is we chose the Devils way.” To prove his point, he scowled over at the street sign that read, ‘Djinn Avenue.’
“He was God, and we could have followed.” The man bellowed.
“God isn’t that powerful, neither is the Devil. It’s just Good and Bad. Beauty VS ugly. Dark VS light.” Scar said.
“You deny the shadow we saw in the mist?” The man asks, wiping a tear from his eye.
“I don’t deny the shadow. I deny his power.”
“Is that why you didn’t follow him upstairs?”
“I’ll go upstairs when I damn well want.” Scar’s face appeared to glow all the brighter as the irritation showed itself in his stance, and the other side of his face grimaced.
“You said you couldn’t be like him, that you wished you were.”
“The shadow is courage I never had.” Scar says sadly, “The shadow is only God because I never had the courage to go upstairs.”
The man started to pace, “I’ve seen the obscure man, the one with the…”
“Mirror?” Scar asked knowingly.
“Yes.”
Scar smiled for the first time, “Both the Shadow and the obscure man have mirrors.”
The man looked dumbfounded, “There are no mirrors upstairs.”
“The mirrors only show us what they want us to see.” Scar said matter of factly, almost like he’d rehearsed that line.
“What,” The man’s voice shakes a little, “What happened to your face?”
Scar smiled, but it was a smile upheld by sadness, “I wanted to be emotionless. I tried to become a robot.”
He laughed, “Insane, right?” He pointed to his glowing face.
“I can’t say it’s anything other, I’m afraid, sir.”
“I thought I could follow God easier as a robot.”
The man lit up a cigarette and looked at Scar, took the sight in as he inhaled a big hit of smoke. “You talk in a very confusing way. Do you believe in God or not?”
“God is merely a word that is interchangeable. God isn’t some spirit in the sky, it’s not some creator, it’s not what we’ve been taught.”
“What is God then?”
“God is an anthropomorphism of courage, of kindness, of natural events that bring joy.”
“So who or what is the Shadow?”
“The shadow is who we wish to be. We don’t follow the shadow actually. We become him, and he ceases to be a shadow, we live with courage.”
“So who is the obscure man, who always stands at the end of Djin Avenue?”
“The anthropomorphism of bad deeds, evil, natural disasters.” Scar carries on with himself, “We lack courage, so we don’t become Gods of our lives”
“Why would I want to become a shadow?” The man frowns, “you make no sense.”
“You don’t want to become a shadow. You want to become courage. Courage or God whatever you want to call him, is only a shadow because you, we, haven’t realised his potential. That is, we haven’t become the courage we sought.”
“Are we the obscure man?”
“Yes. It is us standing at the end of Djin Avenue.”