Friday, April 2, 2010

The World in Miniature: Stalin's Boots

Okay, I'm gonna have a new addition to the blog. The World in Miniature, flash fiction about anything quirky or strange. Not too long. Blog-bites! Like little seafood-filled* pastries... all hot and yummy.

(* And if seafood ain't your thing, please mentally stuff in a desirable foodstuff of your choice. Something delectable.)

So, I'll be writing a bunch, and posting them every Friday (or something like that). Here's the neat rub: everyone can play along. I'm gonna be open to submissions. If I get a bunch, I won't be able to post them all. But hopefully I'll be able to put up some good ones. And at the end of the year maybe we can have a vote for a winner and a prize! I like prizes. If you're interested in getting some short shorts out into the world (that means short, people. I'm thinking 50-400 words) you can send something to me at:

b.russell@sympatico.ca

If this will be a reprint (if your story is previously published) just make sure you have the rights back, as I don't want to step on any toes. Yes, this last line is a clever segue, as the first story will be...

Stalin's Boots

There were two pairs of boots, identical in hand-crafted leather. Black, of course. They were from Italy, but Joseph never told anyone this. He’d seen Mussolini wear a pair once. A Soviet agent had taken Joseph’s foot measurements south in a locked briefcase. On the return trip the agent had two pairs of boots. Shhhh, Joseph told the agent, a third cousin. After his cousin left and he tried the boots on, Joseph decided that a trip north might do his cousin good. Far north. After all, a third cousin was not a first cousin. And cousins weren’t entirely trustworthy to start with.

Joseph took turns wearing the two pairs of boots. On Monday he wore one pair, on Tuesday the next. They were always cleaned for him, polished to perfection, sure hands working the scented oil deep into the leather. The rotation of pairs helped. One day of wearing, one day of cleaning. Sure hands did the work, sure hands at the far end of nervous heads. Never were boots treated so well. A nervous head once wept about the Gulag for two hours while oiling and buffing.

It was cold there, apparently, and neither pair of boots liked the idea. Their dreams were of olive trees and just the thought of cold might crack their leather.

Sharp steps. They liked the imperiousness of that, the clacking of heels. Stalin was careful the way he walked. It had to look just right.

When Joseph died only one pair could be selected for the leader. No more alternating. Eternity was just a long day with the same pair of feet.

The other pair waited. A few strange feet tried the boots on, nervously, hopefully. But Stalin’s feet were oddly shaped, the toes all bent in from the pressure of communism. The boots were left standing.

After awhile the boots started to march around, ghosts in Italian leather. Quick step, march. They stepped on a washer-woman’s fingers, grinding down until a knuckle cracked on the clean floor. General Smetkin got a kick in the ass. That Jew colonel Lemontov got a boot in the throat for telling a dirty joke about Joseph.

No one said anything. This is just the way things were.

6 comments:

sarahjayne smythe said...

oh, I like this. Very nice indeed.

Matthew Rush said...

Morning Ink, nice post.

I particularly liked these two parts:

"After all, a third cousin was not a first cousin. And cousins weren’t entirely trustworthy to start with."

Funny and yet chilling at the same time.

"But Stalin’s feet were oddly shaped, the toes all bent in from the pressure of communism."

HILARIOUS. Sounds incredibly uncomfortable.

Thanks for sharing!

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Matthew Delman said...

Very chilling but very good.

Mira said...

This is excellent.

My favorite line:

"They stepped on a washer-woman’s fingers, grinding down until a knuckle cracked on the clean floor."

Outstanding, Bryan.

Um, and Ouch.

I was going to join in and write something silly - you know, in my style - but that would just be wrong - this is too good. I'll join in another time.

Keep it up. I'll eagerly await the next installment.

Ink said...

Thanks, everyone. And I hope you'll all consider submitting something. Flash fiction is fun. A challenge, especially for overly wordy folk like myself, but worth the effort.

Susan Quinn said...

Flash IS fun, and I'll be taking you up on that offer soon!