“Soulless Screaming Shoes”
By: Pedro Cerda and Daniel Stiles
He could call it cruel. He could call it unfair and chaotically vicious. He could compare it to having sandpaper grinding into his retinas in slow, concentric circles. He did not. He did not say any of those things and he did not believe them. It would be too cliché.
Plopped on a lumpy sofa, the arms torn apart by cat claws and the cushions leaking polyester entrails, he understood he had already experienced throughout his lifetime what most considered justification to spit in the face of his creator and demand restitution. He would not allow himself to fall into such a funk.
He stared at the babbling box of the television set, the glowing green numbers of the clock on top indicating the time to be a quarter beyond three in the morning. He smiled. No matter what boulder life pushed his way, he would shove it back up the hill with lips whistling a merry tune because he held confidence in one thing. He possessed superiority to all the other rock movers.
They could whine and complain. They could cry to the heavens demanding explanation. They could give up and allow their huge burdens to retreat and crush them. Let them do it. He knew better. Being sad, pathetic, lost in desolate despair, was all so mainstream. Suicide had become trendy and he worked too hard to remain on the fringe of unique culture to fall into the predictable at the end. Killing himself would only prove him as weak as the rest.
Watching a new commercial pop onto the TV screen, he turned up the volume.
A middle-aged man sat in a recliner reading a book, a teenage boy on a sofa watching television. A voice came forth, loud, boisterous and confident.
“Hey, you!” the voice called out, causing the older man to look up in surprise.
“No, not you, both of you!” the voice insisted and the boy gave his attention as well.
“Are those jogging shoes you’re wearing?” the voice asked and glancing down to his sneakers, the boy nodded. “Why? Are you jogging?” The boy’s jaw went slack.
“And you, you’re not wearing any shoes at all!” the voice accused the man and he looked down also, wiggling his toes. “Are you a caveman?” The man shook his head.
“What you need is sitting shoes!” the voice proclaimed and the words Sitting Shoes 3000 appeared on the screen in bright, colorful flashing letters, a phone number scrolling across the bottom. “That’s right, sitting shoes! Sitting Shoes 3000 are the hottest new product sweeping the nation by storm and proving you don’t have to be a slouch just because you’re on the couch!”
The scene changed to a close-up of an elderly lady outside on a sunny day. “I’m an old person and every day I have to deal with old person problems,” she said. “I used to have difficulty sitting down. That was before I got the Sitting Shoes 3000. Now sitting down is just as easy as standing!”
Showing the lady stiffly attempting to sit in a chair and falling a few times, Sitting Shoes 3000 wiped across the screen. With the lady revealed again, she sat comfortably and gave thumbs up. Next, a man in a business suit standing outside on a sunny day.
“I have a pair of Sitting Shoes 3000 at home and I keep another pair at the office,” he revealed.
The TV presented the man sitting at home giving thumbs up. It followed by showing him sitting in a cubicle and giving thumbs up. He became replaced by a young woman outside on a sunny day.
“Sitting Shoes 3000 are compact enough to fit in my purse!” she said with an impossibly big smile.
The screen showed her sitting with a purse in her lap. Giving thumbs up, she laughed for no apparent reason. Her image spun away. A man with glasses and a lab coat in a setting matching his attire took her place.
“Sitting Shoes 3000 were developed by top industry experts,” he provided. “The key to the patent pending design is the dispersal and diffusion of the sole. Unlike shoes utilized for other purposes, Sitting Shoes 3000 have redesigned and revolutionized the traditional bulkiness at the bottom, which many believe can prove to be a discomfort to the act of sitting. Everything about a common shoe which has been proven to be detrimental to comfort has been restructured and reorganized.”
The man took off his glasses and advanced forward a few steps. “Don’t worry,” he said with a grin. “Just because the Sitting Shoes 3000 have no sole, it doesn’t mean they’re going to hell. It means they can deliver you to heaven. Who knew it was only a phone call away?”
Flashing words reading Sitting Shoes 3000 blazed to life. “That’s right!” the commercial announcer exclaimed. “All it takes is one call and Sitting Shoes 3000 will be delivered directly to you!”
The number two hundred claimed the screen. “Sitting Shoes 3000 are a two hundred dollar value but take advantage of this one time special offer and you can be a proud owner of Sitting Shoes 3000 for only nineteen ninety-nine!” the announcer declared. The two hundred broke apart, blasted away by a flaming one, a nine, a decimal point and two more nines. A dollar sign symbol ignited, entirely ablaze. “That’s right, five payments of nineteen ninety-nine!”
Covering more of the surface of the numbers, the flames spread. “Is it expensive?” the voice asked. “Hell yeah! Because it’s worth it! This price is hot, hot, hot! And the Sitting Shoes 3000 are not only stylish, they’re versatile!”
The screen shifted to someone watching TV. “Sitting Shoes 3000 can be used when you’re watching television!”
It showed the same person reading a book. ”Sitting Shoes 3000 can be used when you’re reading!”
The person played video games. “You like video games? So do the Sitting Shoes 3000!”
The person used a computer, clapping and laughing. “Sitting Shoes 3000 are even compatible for use with computers, both PC and Mac!”
A scenic image appeared, an ocean shoreline with the sun setting over the waves. “In a world that’s always on the go, it’s important not to forget the necessity of relaxation and sitting is a vital component of relaxology,” the voice said in a calming, soothing tone. “Respected experts in relaxology have proven the link between sitting and living. Live longer.”
The voice changed to a whisper drifting on a breeze. “Sitting Shoes 3000. Call now.” It ended.
Another commercial came on. He paid no attention to it. He had his answer. Picking up the phone, he dialed.
Five weeks later…
His hands trembled, excited anticipation quivering through him. In his grasp, the package from Sitting Shoes Industries. It possessed almost the size of a shoebox yet thinner. Grabbing a knife, he sliced apart the packing tape.
Opening the flaps, bubble wrap met him. He tossed it aside, taking hold of his prize and pulling it out. With it in his grasp, he stared a few moments.
“These are just socks,” he said aloud.
A pair of ordinary white ankle socks had been delivered to him. Written upon them in black permanent marker, the words Sitting Shoes 3000. Double-checking the box he discovered one other item.
Inside he found a plain white 3×5 card, sucka! printed across it and accompanied by the silhouette of a man running away.
Dropping the box, he put on his sitting shoes and went to his bedroom. He opened the drawer in the small dresser at his bedside, digging around among socks and underwear a moment before removing a small handgun. Returning to the living room, he sat on the couch and switched off the television. He placed the gun barrel to the side of his head and pulled the trigger.