Last week I took a walk in another’s shoes. It wasn’t easy.
Prompted by a workshop at Maine Media Workshops and College called Creativity and the Photographer, your concierge tried her hand at fiction. Real fiction, not Imaginary Hotel kind. The instructor was gifted photographer Sean Kernan; his assignment: find a person of interest and observe them. No photographs, no conversation. Just study a person’s movements and behaviors. Take notes. Part 2: Your person of interest is now a character in a short story. Write the beginning of their story. Go beyond the physical. Probe. Imagine. Here is an illustrated and tinkered version of my findings:
Her Shoes, Pedestrian, 2016. Patricia Christakos
How Harold Saved Susan
Uninvited, Jane’s words accompanied them on their morning walk along the harbor. Susan, you really need to get a life. You’re not getting any younger.
Susan knew all too well what “not getting any younger” meant. But “to get a life”…what did that even mean? A life. A life getter…A life saver… A life…
“Harold, are you listening to me?”
Not really, thought Harold. I am currently enthralled by that vixen of a wire-haired terrier over by the rose bushes.
Of course, I’m listening, said Harold using his black pseudo-plume of tail as evidence. Your sister’s a bitch, he said with brown soulful eyes, moving closer to sit beside his charge. I’ve been trying to tell you that for years.
Harold met Susan three years ago at Wanderers Rest on Maine’s Route One near Camden. Wanderers was an unfortunate name for a common situation–lost, wayward humans seeking meaning and connection opt for seemingly abandoned bundles of furriness over roommates, children, drugs or other more unsavory tonics.
Susan was a classic customer. Brunette-ish, somewhere between fifty and seventy. Harold struggled deciphering human years; they seemed so arbitrary and limiting. Susan was a smiler. Lots of teeth. Tea drinker, thought Harold. Her faded florals smelled of mothballs and Murphy’s Oil Soap. Her socks were thick and her shoes pedestrian.
Poor dear, thought Harold, the first morning they met. I’ll have to eat the socks.
For Susan, their bond was immediate. Although not the size (small) or look (golden) Susan imagined for her first pet, Harold’s coon-doggish/Great Dane physique was compelling. Wise. Stately in a Harris tweedy professor sort-of-way. His whitish spots were in all the wrong places, as if someone had spilled house paint while trying to decide what he should look like. The eyes they got right, thought Susan. Human eyes. As if he could see through her. Understand her. Protect her. Take away her hurt.
This one’s gonna need lots of loving, said Roxie, the pitbullish poodle. It’s a job for our best. For Harold. She needs you, Harold.
She’s mine, said Harold softly from his cage near the door. All mine.