The Kentucky Sneaker Conspiracy, A Poem by Chris Russell

A man nicknamed Kentucky ran across the street, stopped me while I was crossing the bridge and said, “Your sneakers are eyesores. Change them, or there is going to be trouble. Not by me, but there are some around here that have had their eye on you, and that fluorescent red color painted on those sneakers has sent them over the edge. I think they are quite nice actually. Wear them while you’re home or something. Make them your house shoes. Or don’t, but don’t be surprised if you have trouble finding a job. I’ve heard a few talking about how they are going to delay you from getting to work for a week so that you show up late repeatedly and eventually get fired. One came up with this plan for hitting you on the crosswalk near the pharmacy and getting off without having to pay a penny.” “Kentucky,” I said, “Though I appreciate your warning, and find it oddly humanitarian, I will not take off these sneakers. When I saw them in the store, I knew immediately they were meant for me. I bought them and changed them while I was on the bus because something about their colors made me complete, somehow. Like Feng Shui, but with clothes. Since I’ve been wearing them, my days have lifted slightly off whatever heaviness they used to drag themselves through. So, you’ll understand why I must decline your offer. And in all honesty, nothing against you, but with all this deceit flying around, what’s to say you’re not working for them and part of some grand scheme to further infiltrate my life with coercion and blackmail via the guise of humanitarianism? With all due respect, the shoes are staying on. I have to get to work.” “I can’t let you do that,” he said. He blocked my way. I tried a fake move to the right and banked left but he caught me by my knapsack. “Take your hands off me!” I said. “It’s useless to resist,” he said. He threw me over the handrail and I landed in the river. I began to swim upstream along the left embankment to where it turned left sharply behind the bank. I exited the river and ran behind the houses to the bus stop, where, dripping, I entered the bus. “You can’t come on like that,” the driver said. “A man threw me in the river and I ran all the way here to catch the bus for work,” I said. “I’m sorry sir, not today,” she said. “Linda, just yesterday you told me how much you liked my beard and today you’re telling me to get off your bus because I’m wet, after I told you someone was trying to kill me,” I said. “It’s not my fault you’re not listening to reason,” she said. “This is about the shoes, isn’t it?” I said. She looked down at the shoes. “No, this is about the fact that you’re not wearing any clothes, except your shoes,” she said. I wasn’t sure what she was talking about. It was probably some sort of mind trick. “Yeah right,” I said, “like this polo shirt is not here, these pants, a figment of my imagination.” A police officer approached with his hand on his gun. “Sir, you’re going to have to put some clothes on. Come with me,” he said. The conspiracy couldn’t be this deeply entrenched. “Yes sir, but can you help me understand what is happening here?” I said. “I’ll tell you on the way to the station,” he said. “The hell you will,” I said. I ran and hid in the dumpster behind the hair salon.  “Get the hell out of here!” the dumpster said.

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