Merle Rooney, Cody Higgins, Lucas Poteet, Vernon Abbott, and Eddie
Eckhert had walked in the door at Tubbs Western Wear
before 3 p.m. Saturday. It was now 5 o'clock, and they were still trying
on boots. One does not often run into teenaged boys obsessed with
footwear, but Merle, Cody, Vernon, Eddie, and Lucas would object to
the observation that they were spending too long shopping for shoes.
They were shopping for cowboy boots. That was all that mattered.
They'd tried on ropers, classic Westerns, riding
boots, Wellingtons, natural cowhide, black
leather, lizard, alligator, snake, eel, elk, buffalo,
elephant, and even sting ray. They'd even tried on some Botas picudas mexicanas, the curled, pointed-toe boots they were wearing in Mexico now.
Esther Ramey was so tired of them.
She was 53, overweight, dumpy, squeezed into mom jeans she hated
because the owner insisted she should be wearing the clothes they were
selling. She'd been at work since 6 a.m., and she had a sneaking
suspicion that she'd be closing the store at 9. There was a decent
chance that all of these boys would still be in the store by then.
"Come on, lady," complained Cody. "Ain't you got any good boots?"
"Yeah, I could find these at Wal-Mart," sneered Lucas. "Don't you have anything special?"
"Right," added Merle. "I got a couple pairs of exotic boots already. Whatcha got that's really exotic?"
Esther sighed and went back to the storeroom. There weren't any left,
she knew this. Oh, work boots, but that's not what they wanted. Women's
boots, children's boots, sure, but they'd get angry if she brought
those out. There was only -- but no, she couldn't do that to them. They
were just boys, not much older than children themselves. She couldn't do
that to them. Their minds could never handle the strain.
But she brought them out anyway. She was a little surprised that
there were five pairs of them available, all in exactly the right sizes.
She started to ponder on that, then decided it wasn't healthy to
think thoughts like that.
She brought them out anyway.
The boots were possibly the most outlandish boots ever made. While
they were built on the same general template as any other Western boot,
they all featured images of skulls and poppies and tarantulas
stitched into the material. They were a nauseating blend of chartreuse
and neon yellow. Each boot had two tiny bat-like wings extending back
from the heel. And there were plastic googly-eyes glued to the toes.
The boys were paying such close attention to the boots that they
never noticed that Esther was wearing thick rubber gloves as she
removed them from their boxes.
"Behold!" said Esther. Somehow, she couldn't even recognize her own
voice right now. "Behold! The greatest creation of Esteban Zolomovich,
unheralded genius bootmaker from the long-vanished ghost town of El
Demencia, Texas! Vintage full quill ostrich, harvested from the
maddened and tortured corpses of radioactive ostriches, driven
hopelessly insane by a steady diet of mescaline, cactus paste,
habanero chili peppers, prune juice, and human flesh! I present
you: The DAHMER DELUXE 9000!"
All five of the boys tried the boots on.
"Light is both a particle and a wave," said Vernon. "How is
that even possible? If it's a wave, it can't be a particle. If it's a
particle, it can't be a wave! Quantum physics makes no damn sense!"
"You ain't kiddin'," said Cody. "You ever thought about an atom?
You got a nucleus, and it's orbited by electrons, but other than
that, it's mostly empty space. And everything's made out of these things
that are mostly empty space! Nothing in the world should be solid. We
should be able to walk through walls!"
And Cody stood up, headed for the wall separating the store from the
laundromat next door, and walked through it. Or at least partway
through -- he stopped suddenly while his back, his butt, and both legs
were still in the store. Blood started running down the wall, and Esther
heard the people in the laundromat begin screaming.
"What the hell was that?!" shouted Lucas, jumping to his feet. "That
shouldn't be possible! That's shouldn't even be possible! OH MY GOD!"
And he ran screaming out of the store.
"Good God," mumbled Merle. "Zardoz. Just... Zardoz."
"Have you ever really thought about how cool a Möbius strip is?"
said Eddie brightly. "You take a normal strip of paper, put one little
twist in it, then tape the two ends together, and you got something that
used to have two sides, but now only has one. That's just so amazing.
You got some paper and tape, ma'am? I'd like to do a little
experimentin' and see what I can come up with."
A few minutes later, Esther was putting the remaining Dahmer Deluxes
back into the storeroom. Cody's boots would end up in the police
evidence room, Lucas had run out of the store with his, and Eddie very
happily bought his pair. As Esther was putting the boots back up on the
top shelf, she paused, took off one glove, and touched one of the boots.
She turned to look at you.
"You had better not be reading this by the time I go on my break,"
she said. "I need to visit the little girls' room, and I don't want you trying to watch me."
For SuperMegaNodeFestQuest 2012. Shazam! - Category: Fiction; Silly; Nodeshell created by another quester