Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Her Shoes (Fiction) by John A. Ward

Her Shoes
by John A. Ward

I ask her to dance. Her shoes have ankle straps and reproductions of Klimt paintings. Ankle straps usually mean a woman is a dancer. Real ballroom dancing shoes have ankle straps. I don't know what the paintings mean, but I like them.

"I love your shoes. How did you do that?" I ask.

"Oh, you mean the erotic paintings?"

"Well, I guess you could call them erotic. They're somewhat erotic, but I think of them more as stylish and surrealistic and gilded of course. I like the gilding." The deejay plays Michael Bublé's rendition of Fever.

"You're probably one of those guys who subscribes to Playboy just for the stories." She follows well.

"I don't subscribe to Playboy." It's a fox trot. So far, I've just been doing my generic slow dance pattern, ad lib left, then some turning box steps to cover some floor and a few underarm turns.

"What do you read?"

"I read - Scientific American, Discover, Poets and Writers and an occasional American Artist: Drawing, in addition to the publications of professional organizations I belong to." She's not afraid of body contact either. Maybe she's had some lessons.

"Not even National Geographic?"

"No, but occasionally a copy of the Victoria's Secret Catalog gets misplaced in my P.O. box and I glance through it before I drop it in the slot for misdirected mail."

"There's always hope for the misdirected male."

"I don't think we're talking about the same kind of mail." I decide to try some school figures. She's close enough, and if my frame's good, her body will flow with mine.

"Probably not. What are you?"

"You mean professionally?"


"I'm a scientist." She's good, we drift effortlessly through a series of outside lefts and outside rights, before a slow couple in the fast lane forces me to check her and reverse.

"Yeah, sure."

I take that as a rhetorical question and do not respond. I'm captivated by the way she instantly adjusts to the change in momentum.

"Oh my God! You really are one, aren't you?"

"Who would say that who didn't have to?" I love that line. Sean Connery said it to Kevin Costner in The Untouchables. "And your shoes?"

"My shoes?"

We're in a holding pattern, waiting for the traffic to clear so we can travel again. I go into an open break and wrap her around into sweetheart position. We circle, my belly to her back. Her hair has a pleasant scent. "How did you get all of the miniature paintings on them?"

"Decoupage. I reduced them with Photoshop, glued them to the leather and covered them with polyurethane."

One, two, three measures and I turn her out and back into face-to-face position. Any more than that and it gets too serious. "Doesn't that stick to your feet when you dance?"

"Why should it?"

"The heat?"

She laughs. She has a beautiful laugh. "The heat doesn't melt it. It's not like varnish. I have other art work too, on my body, but you can't see it."

"You have tattoos?"

"Nothing permanent. I have decals and henna."

"I won't ask where."

"Good, because I won't tell you. You'll have to find out for yourself."

"There's no need to do that." The floor opens up and we're moving again.

"Not even curious?" She twirls. Her skirt swirls and hovers high on her thighs.

"No, I already know. You have dragons, Celtic knots, thorns and geometric designs."

"Oh, how did you know?"

"I have x-ray vision." We're close to the end of the dance, time to bring it home.

"No, really."

"Because I go to costume shops and those are the most common decals. The henna tattoos are usually geometric, not Euclidian, scrolls and reticulations. It's simple deduction." The music ends.

"I like the x-ray vision better. Can you tell me what color underwear I'm wearing?"


"This is unbelievable. How did you do that?"

"Because the only other woman who asked me that question was wearing red underwear." I led her back to her table. "Thank you for the dance."

"I enjoyed it. Will we do it again?"

"That's up to you. I know I'll ask again. I want to know more."

Author bio:

John A. Ward was born on Staten Island, attended Wagner College in the early 60's, sold his first poem to Leatherneck magazine, and became a scientist. He is now in San Antonio running, writing and living with his dance partner. He has published in Doorknobs & Bodypaint, Clockwise Cat, Apollo's Lyre, Toasted Cheese, Green Tricycle, Alighted Ezine, Lit Bits, Cenotaph Pocket Edition, The San Antonio Express-News, Antithesis Common, Wild Child, Ascent Aspirations, Holy Cuspidor, Idlewheel, Cautionary Tale, Sentence, Sun Poetic Times, Byline, Quirk, ken*again, R-KV-R-Y, The Smoking Poet, Long Story Short and Rose & Thorn. Links to his work can be found at Dance Fool.

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