When I was 16 I went to work in my Great Aunt Livia’s antique shop- It was called Livia’s and the shop was small and softly lit.
My Aunt’s store was full of linen and lace and crystal and things that proper women wore and used in their homes in more ‘civilized’ times.
My job was to keep the stock in place, tell little stories about the dresses and mirrors and shoes. I had to know when things like my favorite Bone China cat was made, what the politics of the times were and what the music was like.
I even had a handle on the jewelry and furniture, but I loved working with the clothes and the shoes. Especially the button boots.
So one Christmas Eve we were busy- the store was packed because the area we were in looked like a little village and during Christmas the merchants went out full tilt with the decorations and carolers and free candy canes.
People would stroll around with their complimentary cups of coffee and hot chocolate and one of the places they strolled into was Livia’s.
I noticed the little boy in the crowded shop, because as a rule little boys- or men for that matter hardly ever came in to shop.
But this little guy, who was about 11 was looking for something- and he was looking to buy.
He considered some dresses, hair clips, even a dark heavy velvet cloak.
Finally he settled on the shelf with the shoes and boots and his hands reached up and he brought down a pair of ivory button boots.
” Perfect” he said with a laugh that I didn’t care for. ” These are going to be perfect.”
He brought them up to the counter and set them down.
” How much?” he asked. His hard cold blue eyes were locked on those boots. He looked like he wanted to kiss them…or himself. It wa hard to tell.
” Sixty Dollars.” I said gently.
He dug into his pockets and came up with a handful of bills that smelled faintly of lavender. He didn’t take his eyes off of those shoes as he dropped the money on the counter.
I counted it out and he was five dollars short.
” Oh no.” he said as if I just told him Christmas was cancelled. ” Oh no.”
He looked up at me and I stepped back. I didn’t care for that feral look on his face, I didn’t like the shape of his face. I hated the sound of his voice.
I wanted him gone.
” I have to get them. They’re for my Mother. They’ll be perfect. I want her to wear them.”
He leaned over the counter and whispered to me. ” My Mom is going to meet Jesus tonight.”
” I’m sorry, is she sick or…”
” Tonight me Mom is going to meet Jesus. She doesn’t know it yet.”
” Leave her alone. ” I whispered back ” You leave your Mom alone.”
Then from nowhere this guy walks up and drops the balance on the counter. ” You’re a good kid. Thinking of your Mom. Merry Christmas son.”
He walked away and left me with that little monster.
” I’d like them wrapped up please.”
I took the money. I dropped the shoes in a fancy box. I tied it with length of pale ivory satin ribbon.
” Thank you for helping me Ma’am. My Mom is going to love these. She’s going to be wearing them…” he looked up at me and his smile was as cold as his little beady blue marble eyes “when they take her away. After she meets Jesus.”
He took the box and as he turned away I followed him.
When he got to the door he turned and looked up at me.
I looked down at him.
” My Mom is going to meet Jesus.” He told me.
I leaned over and whispered into his ear. ” And would you like to know who you’re going to meet if that happens?”
He stopped smiling
My mouth smiled, my voice smiled.
My eyes did not smile.
” I’m warning you little man. Just this once.”
He threw the box at me and it hit me in the face. He pulled the door the door open and he disappeared into the Christmas Night.
It didn’t matter though.
I know stories about the stock in our store. I know stories about everything that hangs on the racks, that sits on the shelves and rests in our display cases.
It’s uncanny how I always know stories about the stock- its like all I have to do is just touch things and the stories just flow from my fingers straight into my head.
I reached down and picked up the box the boy had been holding.
” I got my eye on you little man. ” I said as I began to untie the bow on the box. ” You better know that. For your own good.”
Based On “The Christmas Shoes (song)”