When it came to shoe shopping, Lucy was a pro. That’s the way she saw it anyway. Fact was, her employer didn’t seem to appreciate her talent. They still had her stuck doing merchandising, and it was only her frequent trips to competing discount stores to secret shop their prices that kept her sane.
Lucy loved shoes. Especially new ones. She loved the taught feel of new leather across her skin. She adored the smell of them. Most of all, she loved the thought of taking home a new pair of shoes and imagining – no – knowing that her life would somehow be different and better than it ever had been before, all thanks to a little leather treasure in a rectangular box. But therein was the rub. Though she was afforded the opportunity to secret shop all sorts of shoe departments, the meager salary of a merchandiser and part time secret shopper for Marvin’s Department Store did not lend itself to purchasing many of the delectable wares she was constantly thrust before.
There were times when she was shopping prices, and she’d run across a pair she could practically drool over – something high-heeled or low-heeled, mary jane, sling back, clogged, mule, open toed piece of masterful shoe making craftsmanship. Sometimes she felt like a lioness, caged in a cell where there lay just on the other side of the bars a large, juicy steak. And to Lucy, her empty wallet was the cage.
Today she was in a place where she had no real business – a high-end boutique with nothing under $500, a place that carried no similar products to Marvin’s, and very much later, when she had time to reflect, she would tell you that she was prompted to that amazing place by some sort of deep seeded impulse. It was almost like the individual cells that made up her inmost being knew something of which her mind was not immediately aware. Something in her knew that this day was her day of liberation. Today, the lioness would free herself from her cage.
And then she saw it. The object – the very thing that was destined to lure her from the hellish confinement she’d known for so long. Scanning the shelves, tickling her senses with the sights of a hundred treasures she could never dream to afford, her eyes fell upon the most exquisite pair of slingbacks she’d ever seen. Turquoise, suede little numbers with amazing metallic embellishments. Angels sang inside her head as she lifted one of the beauties from its perch, turning it slowly to view the price tag. Six hundred eighty seven dollars, it read.
Strangely, the stratospheric price did absolutely nothing to spoil Lucy’s rapture. All she could think about was the idea that this was shopping at it was meant to be. No sifting though aisles at discount stores, settling on substandard styling just to save a buck. She often thought they might as well line women up at a machine, dispensing footwear much like they would chips and soda, as to subject them to such barbaric methods of shoe shopping.
No! No more of that for Lucy. This place, this here and now, was all that she’d been waiting for. She would have those shoes – those miracle shoes – and everything would be different. She would walk down the street with her chin held high, knowing it would only be a matter of time before she was noticed by somebody important who would recognize her talents and make her a buyer!, and she would travel the world over, looking at and consulting on and buying shoes and shoes and more shoes.
She found a seat and slipped on the turquoise wonders. She audibly gasped as the suede brushed her ankles. She stood, walked to a mirror, though she needn’t have looked, because she knew they were perfect for her. She stared dreamily at the reflection of her feet in the mirror, chewing her spearmint gum like a cow chewing its cud. She knew there was no point in approaching a register. Cash never had a home in Lucy’s purse, and she could practically feel the heat burning off her credit cards – she’d maxed out the last of them at the grocery store a week earlier.
The decision came quickly. She appeared casual, and truly she was, because she believed in her deepest heart that these were her shoes, whether or not she was able to pay for them. Turning, she picked up her long coat and walked to the door, wearing her new, life-changing footwear. As she exited the door of the boutique, into the open air of the outdoor shopping center, she knew she’d found FREEDOM in more ways than one. The early spring air was sweeter than ever, and a swirling robin sang to her a song of congratulations on her amazing new shoes. And to her left approached a hunky stud with a black widow tattoo on his forearm.
This was it. Certainly he was a fashion rep recognizing her talent the second he saw her new shoes. Either that, or he was her future lover, and he was captivated by her beauty and fashion sense. He was here to drive her into the sunset, marry her, and he was definitely rich!, able to buy her shoes forever! He was…security.
“Are you willing to come quietly?” he asked with an ominous tone.
“Huh?” she muttered, confused.
When he grabbed her arm, she realized something was wrong and attempted to turn away, tripping on a curb as she did so. A strap on one of her stolen slingbacks snapped, and she tumbled to the ground, severely spraining her ankle in the process.
On this day, Lucy’s dreams were shattered, as she eventually landed in prison for assaulting the security guard when one of the metallic embellishments popped off the shoe and hit him in the eye, blinding him.
When it came to shoe shopping, Lucy was a pro.
Now she’s just a con.