Life Sentences, Day 129: Luke’s Boot Barn

February 7th, 2011

This is one of the chapters that came yesterday.

I’m putting it here because it’s easier and less time-consuming than  writing a new blog.  I make no claims for this; it’s not a very important chapter and it’s really really raw first draft, but here it is.  By the way, I named the store (same name as the blog) before I saw the sign up there.

Oh, and it’s Chapter 32.


“Hey, lookit,” Luke said, glancing up from the boot he was polishing. “It’s Little Miss Sherlock.”

The scent of shoe polish made the whole room look brown to Simeon. He left Madison to talk to Luke while he wandered the aisles, trying to make sense out of things. He heard the conversation sputter a couple of times before catching, like an outboard engine.

Well, well. They seemed to make cowboy boots out of pretty much everything anyone could put a heel on. Lizard, snake, rawhide, ostrich, eel, unborn calf, patent leather, a few with feathers. Some had two-inch heels, some had four-inch heels, some had spike heels, and some looked like they were designed for a woman to wear while riding Helmut Newton. He saw spurs, he saw steel tips, he saw tips that had been gold-plated.

“Who buys the patent-leather ones?” he called over the tops of the shelves.

“Well, that was a surprise,” Luke said. “Fella who come up with them, he figured they’d be good for the ladies, back when evvybody was line-dancing, you remember line-dancing?”

“He missed it,” Madison said.

“So anyways, turned out line-dancing didn’t last any longer than any other stupid dance, and the boots get sold mostly to guys who come up from West Hollywood. They got themselves a posse, The Riders of the Purple Sage. It marches in some big parade every year.”

Simeon said, “Huh.”

Madison explained, “He’s the tall, silent type.”

Luke said, “He ain’t that tall.”

“He makes up for it,” Madison said, “by being extremely silent. Really, Simeon, don’t you have anything to ask good old Luke here?”

“I’m thinking,” Simeon said. He heard the conversation sputter some more, while he looked at the boots and thought, Gloves.

He knew the general shape of what was happening but he couldn’t turn it right-way up. It was like trying to put on a pair of gloves in the dark. First, they’re inside out and your fingers won’t slide in. Then you get it right-side out but it’s on the wrong hand. Get it on the right hand, find another, and put it on, and the light goes on and you see you’re standing in front of a box of gloves, all different colors, and that the ones on your hands aren’t a match. Then the light goes out again.

“Gloves,” he said out loud.

“Nope,” Luke said. “Boots.” Madison was looking at him as though she couldn’t quite remember why they were together.

“Right, boots. What’s the biggest size you carry?”

“Twelve triple-E,” Luke said. “But that’s only in the real boots, you know, workin’ boots. You’re not going to find them in patent leather.”

Real men’s boots,” Madison said.

Luke made a little pistol with his hand and shot Madison with it. “You got yourself a smart one here,” he said to Simeon.

“And we’re so rare,” Madison said.

“So if you get Bigfoot in here and Bigfoot wants a pair of boots, what do you do?”

“Special order,” Luke said. “Cash in advance, ’cause you can’t just turn around and sell a pair of seventeen-extra wides.”

“I’ll bet,” Simeon said. “Sold any lately?”

Luke rubbed the boot in his lap. “You playin’ Sherlock, too?”

“I’ll take that as a yes.” He came down the aisle toward the counter. “Madison, give the nice man twenty dollars.”

Luke said, “What for?”

“For answering the question.”

Luke shook his head. “Keep your money. Had a special order about six weeks ago.”

“When did he pick up the boots?”

“’Bout four days ago.”

“What size?”

“Biggest I ever seen.” Luke shook his head in bootsy wonder. “Eighteen five-E. Cost a fortune. Ain’t no machine last for a boot that big.”

“I’ll bet,” Simeon said. “Big guy, huh?”

“That’s the funny part,” Luke said.

A few moments went by, and Madison said, “I’ve been a while between laughs.”

“Not so big,” Luke said. “Guy said they were a present. Wasn’t any bigger’n you are.”

“What did he look like?” Simeon had come up to the counter, and Madison saw that his fists were balled up.

Luke took his eyes off the boot and regarded Simeon. “Looked kinda like you.”


“You knew that,” Madison said. “I watched your face. You knew what he was going to say.”

“Well, that doesn’t mean I know what to do about it.” They were sitting in Madison’s car with the windows down, waiting for the temperature inside to drop.

“I like to kid myself that I’m mildly smart,” she said, “but I have no idea what train of thought you’re following.”

“And you wouldn’t if you thought about it for a month. You haven’t got the frame of reference.” He looked at the watch, and it said 1:50. He slapped it, but the red digits didn’t come up. That was interesting, but he’d have to hold it for later.  “Damn, we’ve lost a lot of time.” He closed his eyes and tried to calculate. “A little more than six hours left.”

Madison said, “Oh.” She looked down at her lap as a bead of sweat rolled down her nose.  Then she said, “What’s wrong with my frame of reference?”

“You’re not fictional.”  He tapped the dash, which she took as a sign to get the car rolling.  “This whole thing, starting with Ferdy.  It’s about a book.”

8 Responses to “Life Sentences, Day 129: Luke’s Boot Barn”

  1. Suzanna Says:

    Hey, Tim

    Hope PULPED is coming along nicely today. If this chapter is any indication you’re doing great!

    Madison’s line about Simeon making up for not being very tall by being extremely silent is pretty funny.

    Happy to read your work whenever you want to post it here.

  2. Everett Kaser Says:

    Ah… lovely. Like a cool breeze when the smog and 95+ temperatures have been cooking you for days and days.

    Damn, I so, so, so, SO want to read that book. 🙂

  3. Gary Says:

    I like Simeon not being in the first person any more. That part I like.

    I’m sure I’ll like the rest of it too. When’s the proofreading?

  4. Lil Gluckstern Says:

    Tantalizing, and it reads really well. Looking forward to more.

  5. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Hi, y’all –

    You really are too kind. I wasn’t kidding about first draft — I hadn’t even reviewed this. It was the last thing I wrote Sunday afternoon and the first thing I looked at this morning.

    Madison has already been to Luke’s, earlier in the book, when she’s acting (without knowing it) to Simeon’s prompting,although she cares enough about Ferdy to ask questions herself. But he feels he’s put her in potential danger, and that’s one reason he goes down (or sideways or whatever it is) to make sure she’s okay.

    Sooz, thanks. I like that line, too. She’s feeling pretty feisty at this point, although she also knows he’ll be leaving her soon. This is kind of a sad love story in addition to everything else.

    Thanks, Everett and Gary. The third person is nice because the two of them kind of share it, and I can open a chapter closer to either of them, even to the point of having free-form internal monologues without having to clutter the page up with a bunch of italics.

    It’s going to be at least a month, Gary, before this is ready for anyone else to look at. Mun has to listen to it first and then I have to make the changes, and I really think I should take two weeks away from it before I read it out lous. I’m feeling very, very wonky about big aspects of it.

    Thank you, Lil. There will, indeed, be more.

    Thank yo

  6. Robb Royer Says:

    Lovely chapter, witty as always but, as usual, I’ll be a little off point. I just returned from the farm, which as you know is webless (at least in one sense of the word) and belatedly read the gracious plug you gave Jimmy’s album. Thanks so much for the kind words. Truly appreciated. Go Edgar!

  7. Larissa Says:

    Nice stuff. I wish I could write such a “rough” first draft! I like Madison a lot and I can tell from your writing how comfortable you are with her. I dig, man, I dig. Well done. 😀

    Can’t wait for more!

  8. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Robb, thanks – and I hope a whole bunch of people buy the album. It’s a great piece of work.

    Riss, write 50 or 60 of them, and you will. I’m already missing writing Madison, and I’m not even finished with her yet. And I mean that — she’s more sheer fun to write than almost anyone since the first time I wrote Miaow. What a surprise.

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