Not again. Jim gritted his teeth and stared at the rip in his new blazer. First the scuff on his dress shoes, then the frayed threads near his crotch only made worse by his efforts to remove them. Of all the days… Today was his fifth job interview in three months. Since the gravel company closed, he had lived with his mother. Harassed by his mother, more like it. Every day, she and her towering beehive hairdo had some new assault. “Your brother was twice the man you are!” was last night’s, her black hive trembling from the effort. He noticed his balled fists and tried but failed to forget her.

At his stop, he stomped off the bus clutching his blazer away from the door’s exposed metal. Down the sidewalk, he rolled on with furious purpose. A slick car darted in front of him and coughed out a black plume. Jim hacked and cussed.

His feet thudded harder with each step. Those passing him steered clear, avoiding his stony stares. ‘That’s right,’ he thought, ‘Jimmy Syphus is rollin’ through. Move it then lose it.’ A smirk crawled up his face.

Tick. Click. Click. Tap.

Jim shot his eyes to his feet. Black shoelaces clicked and ticked and tapped against his shoe as he walked. His nostrils flared and his mouth tightened. Hoisting his foot onto a fire hydrant, he knotted the shoelaces vice tight.

Pounding forward again, he was determined to reach his interview without another incident, not this time.

Click. Tap. Tap. Tick.

Wide eyes staring forward, he couldn’t believe his ears. He cracked his neck down and, Holy Mary Mother of God! Untied, his other shoe’s black tendrils mocked him. He slammed his foot down, kneeled, and began to manhandle his shoelaces.


Half a shoelace lay limp in his large but impotent hands. He stared through it, lips pursed white, head buzzing with rage.

“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh!!!” Jim exploded, as he gripped his hair, vaulting skywards and crashing into the Earth repeatedly. Each mad landing bore incoherent grunts and new curses. He stopped when his feet were numb, panting and ready for a kill. He lifted a shoe to his hands, ripped it off and eviscerated the shoelaces. Once out, he threw the dusty black strands into his mouth, gnashed his teeth, and chucked the gutted shoe against an imposing, indifferent skyscraper. He tore out the other laces and peeled the shoe from his foot, falling back as he did.

Chewing dirty shoelaces and spitting as he breathed, he sat shoeless and red-faced, hands buttressing his heaving torso. Shaking his head after some time, his eyes caught focus. He spat out the soggy strings and stood on socked feet. As he walked away from yet another defeat, he wondered what he would say.


This story made possible by Charles Bukowski; photo link.

2 thoughts on “Small Tragedies

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