I threw my backpack on the bed and looked around and sighed. It was a dump. For the average twenty year old out there it would have been great. They would have no standard of comparison with what had been once because the once upon a time I knew no longer existed. For them, the a/c, which was actually running, and the light switch that worked would have been storybook.
I shed some gear, keeping the guns and sharp stabbing tools and left the rifle in it's sheath along with my pack on the bed. My back ached from toting all this stuff, especially with my raggedy ass boots making me walk funny. I decided to see if I could find a cobbler. Maybe I could get a few more miles out of them. Then get something to eat and see if what else was for sale that was on my list. Salt should be easy enough to find. My ammo supply was fine and I didn't plan on stocking up until it went on my new employers account. As I walked out the door the electricity in my room died.
I found a cobbler without any difficulty. It was run by a wizened old white woman who ran the counter in front while her man ran a foot powered sewing machine in the back. The shop smelled good. A mixture of leather and old feet. A smell I found comforting. I pulled my boots off, my foot wraps were less than pretty. I was glad she couldn't see them. Hell, I didn't want to look at them myself.
I dropped the boots on the counter and handed her the boot heel. She set it down on top of the counter and moved it next to the boots with the tip of her index finger. She looked at my boots, looked at me, looked back at the boots, and yelled, "Hey Bobby. Come check these out!"
He turned his head to look at me and made a frowny face, that's when I noticed he had lost an eye somewhere along the line, and shuffled over to join us. She indicated my boots and told him, "He wants them resoled."
Bobby picked up the worst one up, turned it upside down, then stuck his finger through the hole by the toe, shook his head, and set it back down.
"Mister. It would be cheaper for me to make you a new pair. I mean..."
I cut him off. I was trying to stay calm but I was getting angry. I was telling myself "It's the truth. Don't get mad at him" and I wasn't really. I was just mad. Mad that everything was slipping away. Mad that I was here. Mad that my life was what it was.
"No. I want them fixed."
I think my expression had changed or maybe the tone of my voice. Maybe both. He physically stepped back from me. The woman? She cocked her head, looked at me for a couple of beats, and asked, "They magic boots sweetie?"
I looked at her. I felt the anger spiking. If she was being a smart ass or just fucking with me I was going to make her extremely sorry. Burn down the fucking shop with them in it flashed through my head. She didn't flinch, she just looked me in the eyes, and I realized she understood. The anger drained away as fast as it had arrived to be replaced with a sad weariness.
"Yeah. They are."
She nodded her head and we all kind of went suspended while she thought whatever she was thinking. "Okay. Hows this work for you. Bobby keeps the original uppers and redoes everything else?"
I thought about it. It wasn't a bad idea. "Okay. How much? How long? And do you have something in a size 12 I can wear until you get them done?