The Case of the Troubling Shoes

At Stanley Stanley’s investigative services, 1 out of 5 detectives is an alcoholic.

It has nothing to do with the fact that Jerry’s Bar and Stool is right across the street. And by stool, Jerry meant a chair. Jerry gets a lot of randy jokes about the word stool. He meant the seat.

Anyway, most of the private eyes chock up their problem to solving too many cases. That’s right. Stanley Stanley’s has a 100 percent turnaround rate. You bring in a picture, a piece of hair, your grandmother’s toothbrush, and Stanley Stanley’s will bring home that lost puppy, that low down husband, that senile old lady that says she is your Nana’s Nana when she’s actually just your Nana.

And there are the odd cases, too. Take for example the case of the troubling shoes.


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The footwear story began with a call.

“Stanley Stanley’s Investigative Services. How may we help you?” Jane asked.

“Yes. Yes. Send over your finest men. And by that, I mean the sober ones. The address is 5 Skidmore Lane. And make a move on it or I’ll dance myself to death.”

Without further explanation, the phone clicked.

Jane shrugged, fixed her glasses, and walked over to Brady’s desk.

“They’re asking for a teetotaler. I figured you were their man.”

Brady wiped mustard off his lips. Jane always managed to interrupt his meals.

He took a look at the note.

“What does that say?”

“It says the person is going to dance himself to death.”

“What the heck does that mean?”

Jane shrugged.

Brady rolled his eyes. This loony obviously needed a dry detective because he was three sheets to the wind.

Brady took his time finishing the sandwich. Then, he pulled on his jacket and looked around for Caldwell.

Caldwell was probably in the loo again. Egg salad always hit him the wrong way.

Brady left him a note and headed out to Skidmore Street. When he arrived, an ambulance was there. A little old lady stood on the stoop yapping at a cop.

“I tell you, there was music, lots of music. I came and peeped in the window. And that’s when I noticed the body.”

Brady peered over her shoulder as the EMTs walked out with a covered stretcher.

Damn, dead on arrival.

Brady picked some lettuce out of his teeth and walked into the house. A police officer stopped him.

Brady flashed his badge.

“Oh, good, glad you’re here. This one’s a bit funny.”

“How do you mean?”

“Well, the man’s feet were burned up bad, but the coroner figures he died of a heart attack. The man’s clothes were soaked with sweat. The coroner says the shoes he was wearing were made out of metal.”

“Metal?”

“Yup and hot to the touch.”

Brady rubbed his chin. An interesting case, indeed.

He began to rummage through drawers and cabinets.

Two hours passed and not one clue surfaced.

Caldwell tapped the metal shoes with a fork. Brady spun around in his chair.

“Stop playing with them!”

“You don’t really think these shoes are haunted, do you?”

Brady shrugged and glanced at the headline in the Hudson Gazette. “Man’s wife says soles possessed him.” He sighed. They could have done so much better with the tagline.

Caldwell picked up the shoes.

“Come on, what man willingly steps into these things after they’d been sitting in an oven?”

Brady reviewed the blood work again. A sober and drug-free man, apparently.

“We’re missing something,” he said, biting into a donut. The custard seeped out the back and dripped onto his shirt. He took a finger, swiped the filling off the fabric, and stuck it in his mouth.

“Waste not, want not,” he said to Caldwell.

Brady sat up abruptly in bed. His wife flipped on the light.

“You’re finally having a heart attack, aren’t you? I’ll call the doctor. Just relax!”

“No, no, I’m fine. It’s the darn radio. We need the radio!”

The radio was in evidence for the mere fact that the cops had been amused by the cassette inside.

“Luck be a lady, tonight,” it hummed. The same song repeated over and over. Talk about maddening.

Brady pushed the cassette across the table.

“The answer to all our problems,” he said, playing with the straw in his soda.

“I don’t understand,” said Caldwell.

“Well, I looked at Mr. Fitzgerald’s accounts. Apparently, he was in the red. The whole house had been foreclosed on.”

“So…”

“The man was spending nights at the casino. And when he wasn’t there, he was with his secretary.”

“And…”

“So the wife did it.”

“You think so?”

“Absolutely.”

“But how did she get him to dance in those shoes?”

“She threatened something near and dear to him.”

“The secretary?”

“Worse. His mother. The old woman may be half gone, but ask her the right questions and she’ll tell you that Mrs. Fitzgerald brought her home that night and said, if he didn’t dance in those shoes, his mother was going to dance in them.”

“How do you know all of this?”

“Are you listening? The old woman told me.”

“But you just said she’s batty.”

“Yeah, but I told Mrs. Fitzgerald that the neighbor saw the whole thing. I reenacted it as if old Mrs. Thompson had told me verbatim.”

“So, Mrs. Fitzgerald confessed…”

“Nope, but I smelt some leftover alcohol on her breath and went over to Jerry’s. Come to find out she bragged about the whole thing over six martinis.”

“Wow… you think I would have overheard her,” said Caldwell.

Brady lifted an eyebrow and sighed.

“And you wonder why they call us dicks.”

He looked down at Caldwell’s shoes. The right one was ripped. He could see a plaid sock through the toe area.

“I think it’s about time you buy a new pair.”

“Nah… I like them just the way they are.”

“Okay. Keep walking around in the same old shoes. See where it gets you.”


About Kristina England

Kristina England resides in Worcester, Massachusetts. Her writing is published or forthcoming at Crack the Spine, Extract(s), Gargoyle, The Hessler Street Fair Anthology, The Quotable, Yellow Mama, and other magazines. Find her on her blog.

>> Kristina England's author page

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