Shoe Scat


Boogie and Evelyn knew they were going nowhere fast, so they sat on the sidewalk checking out feet, shoes, mostly the kinds of shoes that belonged on the people that wore them.  Evelyn tapped a branch in syncopation with the clips and clods of scurried city walkers, the slow squish of tennis shoes taking cruisers going anywhere, the rapid thuds of those who thought they were going somewhere.  Boogie churned a low bass scat composing a melody and they took turns pointing out mismatched colors, awkward fittings, funky hairstyles and too-tinkered faces.  But they both agreed, the shoes make the man, woman.  Or child.
      A boy and girl played hopscotch at the next stoop, and were louder with their observations.  The little girl's favorite phrase was "Get a job, lardass!" while the boy was partial to crotch-cupping and motioning to the high-heeled ladies, "Bring it on over here, Ba-beee."  The girl was barefoot and the boy wore flip-flops.  Boogie shook his head: "Unsuitable footwear for play."
      A spiky-haired, stiletto-ed lady passed by the pair, slipped a buck into Evelyn's hand.  Evelyn prompted her companion, "Give her something, Boo, shoe scat baby."  And Boogie did.  She-be-de-doo-ba-doo.
      Traffic.  Walking.  Time for dinner and people shuffled by in their quick paces.  Hurry up and wait, Boogie mumbled, smelling flowers done gone by the wayside, just chase those dreams that disappear into alleys.
      "Whadd'ya think about those?"  Evelyn pointed at a misfit across the street, a man with a gruff and bearish stature sporting skateboard shorts and five-inch stack clogs.  He carried a ukulele.  Boogie kept his rhythm.  Boom-che-ke-de-doo.  "Should be Birkenstocks—dude got lost in another time."
      The man with the ukulele started to play and the twang fit right in with Evelyn's percussion and the biddledy-bop of Boogie.  "Hey, come on over."  Evelyn waved; only twenty-two and the flab on her arms slapped like a water balloon on a flagpole.
      The girl playing hopscotch yelled, "They got surgery for that shit, ya know."
      "Go change your panties, you little foul-mouthed ragweed."  Evelyn looked at Boogie who nodded in affirmation.
      Bada-da-bo-dong.  Dee-be-deee.
      Self-conscious, Evelyn picked up her sweater off the block rail to cover her bare arms and saw the ukulele man lanking his way across the street, strumming in step.  "Yeah, Ragamuffin Man.  Got your own style, dude!"  He responded with a bdrr-rrng, bdrr-rmmm, and a slanted grin pushed through his beard.
      The sidewalk boy became interested and ran into the street toward Ragamuffin screaming, "Vermin not allowed.  Go back to your nest," but the ursine man continued his crossing.  The girl called, "You can't go in the street Roffie.  Get back here," but Roffie had descended upon the music man, pushed and bit him.  The man's left leg teetered and he fell, his weight thumping the boy to the ground too, timber they went.  Ta-rump-de-dum, Boogie kept time.
      "Hot damn!  Road kill!"  Evelyn started flapping from her seat on her steps, drumming wildly, "Get the turd, Ragamuffin!"  Diddly-do-bobop-do-pop.  Ragamuffin man scooted back toward the opposite sidewalk, his ukulele strap tightened against his throat and the instrument thrown back over his shoulder, as he watched a yellow Chevelle peel down the street, and it curved madly to miss both bodies.  Tires screeched.  Ba-da-rump-a-doo.  Ragamuffin kicked his feet at the little boy who fell headlong into the street and a clog flew into the sky.
      They all watched the boy rub his grungy eyes as he leaned up to face the grill of the car, just inches from the bright chrome fender.  Eye to eye with the left headlight.  Evelyn, Boogie and the little girl then saw the monster clog plummet down into the halted windshield.  Crush, rippled glass, a slow off-key strum.
      "Lost his shoe."  Evelyn seemed very sad with this.  The street's shuffling, hip-hopping, click-clacking stopped.  Just for a moment, because everything goes on.  In the distance they heard the sound of sirens.  The woman behind the wheel got out shaking her fist at the disobedience, and pulled her ponytail tighter.  Evelyn saw she was barefoot and nudged Boogie: "Tsk, tsk, tsk."
      Boogie tossed his dreds and said, "Told you they was poor choices.  All of 'em."  Da-zeeee.  Da-bobbidy-boo.  Evelyn's twig fell silent and she looked at her own feet, snug in a pair of loafers.  "Another time then, Ragamuffin," and turning back to her companion and his moccasins, she asked, "Whatcha wanna do now?"
      A man with a beret and deck shoes slipped them another buck and hurried off.
      Boogie said, "Nowhere's easy."
      And Evelyn and Boogie kept on heading there.  
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