Short Story | ‘The Boots on the Shoulder’ by Peter McMillan, Illustration by Sayantan Halder

Illustration for ' The Boots on the Shoulder' by Sayantan Halder

“Daddy, why are there boots on the edge of the road?”

“I don’t know, son. Listen don’t talk to me right now, OK? This is some pretty hairy driving. Rain, rush hour, slick tires.”

“I think the man got knocked clean out of his boots.”

“What man?”

“The man whose car was broken down.”

“What car?”

“Umh. I dunno.”

“Well, don’t bother me, son. I’m trying really hard to concentrate here. Can’t afford another accident.”

“They looked like roofer boots. Me and Billy watched ‘em put the new roof on his house, and they had boots just like that.”

“Like wh—  I thought I asked you to stop talking.”

“Maybe they fell off the truck, you know, like after work, they change. I wonder if he had to buy a new pair. Are they expensive?”

“Are what expensive?”

“Roofer boots.”

“What’s a roofer boot?”

“I just said.”

“Well, cut it out, OK. Wait til we get out of this traffic.”

“Maybe it was a robbery. The boots guy stopped to help a sports car. Then he stole the car and the man’s shoes, leaving the boots behind.”

“Robbery? That’s just silly. Now, hush.”

“I think he took the girlfriend, too.”

“What? Whose girlfriend? Now, would you please—”

“I think he got tired of roofing and wanted to drive down to Florida.”

“What’s in Florida?”

“You know, Disney, old people, Canadians, bikinis and stuff.”

“What Canadians?”

“Old fat white ones. Snowmen! Get it?”

“Yeah, I got it. You’ve really gotta stop talking. Just for the next couple of miles, OK?”

“Daddy?”

“What, son?”

“Do you think Mommy will be OK?”

“Yeah. She’s in the good place. They have the best doctors and nurses in the city. They’ll—Yeah, son. She’ll be fine.”

“I hope so. I don’t know what I would do without her.”

“Me either, son. Me either.”

“Daddy, I think I’m finished talking for now.”

“OK, son.”

On the inside shoulder of the freeway was a second pair of boots, but these were ignored.

Illustration by: Sayantan Halder

Peter McMillian is a freelance writer and ESL instructor who lives on the northwest shore of Lake Ontario with his wife and two flat-coated retrievers.

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