Contemporary

Afterglow By Ute Carbone

Monday, March 11, 2013

Two True Shoe Stories and a Single Idea.

As you might have surmised, given the fancy high heel with flowers on the cover of Afterglow, shoes figure as an important part of the story. Five thousand outdated singleton shoes are donated to the hero, Mitch, by an eccentric retired shoe manufacturing mogul because Mitch had saved his life.

Readers often wonder where a writer’s ideas come from. The shoe idea had two sources. I read in the paper where a woman had had bought five thousand pairs of shoes at next to nothing on Craig’s List. She hoped to sell the shoes for a profit. And the shoes would have sold like cold water in the desert had it been 1967. They were, in other words, very outdated. Which explained why they were being sold at such a ridiculously low price in the first place.


I changed the details; shoes gifted to Mitch rather than bought on line had been stored in his basement. He was looking to get rid of them. The story hummed forward. I shared what I had written with some writer friends. My friend, Trudy, worked for Catholic Charities. Her work involved helping refuges from war torn countries settle in the U.S.. These people often arrived on America’s shores with little but the clothes they wore. Trudy was always looking for donations of shoes and clothing and life’s necessities. And so it was that a large donation of shoes from a recently bankrupt manufacturer arrived at her office. When Trudy opened this new treasure, she found there was a bit of a problem; each box had only one shoe in it. To this day, no one knows what happened to the matches.

Outdated shoes were funny. Single outdated shoes were even funnier. And so, the singleton shoes in Mitch’s basement were born.

Here’s a peek at that part of the story:

Mitch pulled the light cord. There were shoes boxes piled into every nook and cranny.

“It’s a shoe infestation. If they were alive, I’d have to call an exterminator.”

“Still in the original boxes,” Eva said. “That’s a great selling point.” She pulled a pink box off a tall pile, sneezed as she dusted it off, and pulled out a purple platform shoe, size eleven and a half.

“Nice,” I said. “They could use it as a prop in the remake of Saturday Night Fever.”

“Oh my God. Look at this.” Eva pointed to the platform under the toe. “A place for goldfish.”

“Goldfish?” Mitch questioned, taking the shoe from her and examining it.

“You're too young, darling,” Eva said. “Goldfish shoes. Popular during the disco era, long
before you were born. You have no point of reference.”

“I’m not that young,” Mitch said. “And, by the by, I’ve seen Saturday Night Fever. Disco was awful.”

“Disco was awful,” I agreed. “Almost as bad as those shoes.”

“Are you kidding?” Eva said. “I know a transvestite who would die for shoes like these.”

She pulled the tissue paper from the pink box. “Where’s the match?”

Mitch took the box from her. “I guess there is no match,” he said.

“There’s got to be a match.” I pulled down another box. One child’s black patent leather Mary Jane. I held it up. “Another singleton”

“Let me see that,” Mitch took the box from me as Eva pulled down a third. One penny loafer; size six.

“You have got to be kidding,” she said, dangling the single shoe by the heel.

Mitch pulled out another box, and held up a red Ked’s hightop sneaker. “Just the one,” he said.

“You mean to tell me you have a basement full of single shoes?” Eva asked.

“It looks that way,” Mitch said, a big smirk pasted on his face.


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Ute Carbone Biography


Ute, who pronounces her name oohtah, was born in Germany and grew up in upstate New York. She and her husband reside in Nashua, NH. They have two grown sons. Ute enjoys hiking, skiing, and generally anything that involves being outside. She loves chocolate, wine, and, of course, books.



Books by Ute Carbone:

Blueberry Truth
The P-Town Queen
Afterglow
The Whisper of Time

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