Converse Club


Marcy Mirabel only ever wanted one thing in her entire life, and that was a friend. Just one, true, friend. She’d gone through all fourteen of her painful years utterly alone, wishing she could form a bond with someone, anyone.

She was weird, or so people told her. She certainly dressed weirdly. When Marcy had been a kid, her mother had chosen all her clothes, and she’d always been forced to go to school in some sort of Laura Ingalls type outfit. Now, she could make her own sartorial choices, but she’d gotten so used to prairie dresses that she wasn’t really sure what else she should be wearing.

The answer came to Marcy on a poster that was taped to a bulletin board at school, advertising something called the ‘Converse Club’. There wasn’t really any other information indicated besides a date and time for the first meeting, but the picture of Converse shoes on the poster implied that it had something to do with this specific type of footwear.

Now that she’d realized Converse shoes where a thing, she seemed to see them everywhere. In every class she saw someone wearing Converse. All the popular kids seemed to be wearing them. Clearly, these shoes were the gateway to friendship.

As soon as she got home she did some internet research only to discover that Converse were a bit out of her price range. She knew her mother would never allow such an extravagant purchase so Marcy spent the entire weekend scouring thrift stores and second-hand shops. Finally, she found them! A pair of black Converse, only slightly worn, and only one size too big. At the same store she invested in a pair of jeans, a nondescript t-shirt, and a hoodie, since this seemed to be the uniform of the cool kids at school. New clothes in hand, she gleefully made her way home, happy to know she’d soon find someone, if not many someones, to be friends with.

She felt conspicuous in her new outfit on Monday, wondering if others would notice the change, but no one said anything. She walked into the first meeting of the Converse Club with hesitation, still unsure of exactly what was meant to occur at this gathering. To her surprise, there was no one else in the room. Five agonizing minutes went by, as she waited for someone else, anyone else, to join her. Had she gotten the date wrong? The place? Finally, another girl walked in. She had lanky hair, a face full of acne, and wore a sweater that was either ironically or genuinely hideous, Marcy couldn’t tell which. On her feet, was a brand new pair of grey Converse. The girl tentatively walked up to Marcy, and said hi. Marcy returned the greeting and they stared at each other, trying to figure out what to do.

“Oh my god, so fucking lame!” said a male voice. Both Marcy and the hideous sweater girl turned to see Andy Drew cackling from the doorway. “They’re actually wearing Converse and everything!”

Marcy and the girl looked at each other in fear. Was this all some sort of elaborate set up, meant to humiliate losers? It wouldn’t be the first time.

Without a word to Andy Drew and his friends, who jeered at them as they went, Marcy and the girl walked out of the room, and out of the hallway, and out of the school. Once outside, the girl looked down at her feet and said she didn’t even like Converse. “I mean it’s winter. I usually just wear boots.”

“Me too,” admitted Marcy.

“Did you buy those just for the club?” asked the girl.

Marcy nodded, and the girl admitted that she’d done the same. “Fuck this school!” said the girl, as she threw her school bag against the wall. She leaned down and tore the shoes off her feet, then threw them at the wall as well, giggling as she did so. “I’m Angie, by the way.”

“Marcy,” she replied, kicking off her own shoes and throwing them next to Angie’s, as she laughed. “Fuck all those assholes!”

Angie invited Marcy over for an after school snack, and Marcy agreed. They put their shoes back on, because it was, after all, winter, but they never wore those Converse again. The next day Marcy went back to her granny booties, and as she joined Angie in the cafeteria for lunch, she noticed that she was wearing fuzzy snow boots, and another ugly sweater.

“I like your sweater,” Marcy smiled.

“Thanks, I like your dress.”

Andy Drew and his jerkhole friends made fun of them as they passed by, calling Marcy and Angie the Converse Club, and they continued to do so for the rest of the year, but it didn’t matter. The Converse Club had served its purpose. Marcy finally had a friend.




Right Shoe was pissed. Left Shoe had promised to stop smoking, but here it was, lighting up while they were on a tour of historic buildings in Montreal. They’d just entered the Robillard building in Chinatown, which was famous for hosting the first film screening in Canada, in 1896. Pretty impressive, thought Right Shoe, as it hopped along through the building, admiring the 19th century architecture. Left Shoe couldn’t care less. Left Shoe didn’t care about films, or historic buildings, or much of anything really. It was only on this tour because Right Shoe had insisted.

“Put out that cigarette!” insisted Right Shoe, while Left Shoe scoffed with indifference.

“Make me.”

They were indoors for goodness’ sake! It wasn’t only illegal to smoke indoors, it was immoral too! Right Shoe was done. So done! It hopped away, out of the building, determined to finish the historic building tour on its own. Left Shoe could rot away from lung cancer all alone, for all Right Shoe cared. It was sick and tired of putting up with Left Shoe’s nonsense. Left Shoe was always making trouble, always refusing to cooperate, rebelling not to make a statement, but to be an irritation, simply for the pleasure of being disagreeable. Left Shoe was a constant spoiled sport, even though they were athletic shoes!

It was only ten minutes later, as it was hopping up Saint-Laurent street, that Right Shoe heard the sirens. It turned to see what was going on, and saw the smoke. Suddenly it could smell the smoke as well. It hopped back, trying to get as close as possible to the scene, but firefighters and police were keeping people and shoes back for their own protection.

All Right Shoe could do was wait. And wait it did. It took the rest of the day and night for the flames to be extinguished, and Right Shoe waited the entire time, hoping that Left Shoe had emerged safely. It was a pain in the backside, no question, but Left Shoe was Right Shoe’s mate, and they belonged together, no matter what.

As dawn arose over the horizon, Right Shoe peered at the gutted remains of the building, trying to see its other half. And there was Left Shoe, sitting among the ruins, utterly unscathed, no sign of the cigarette that had undoubtedly started the fire.

Typical, thought Right Shoe. Left Shoe always decimates everything in its path and yet gets away with everything.



The true story


skatesElliot Archambeault was the best skater on his hockey team, without question. No one could deny it. He was the fastest, and the most graceful, and he never fell down, even though he also took the most hits. He wasn’t the enforcer for his team, the hawks, because Rich Beaudoin held that title, unofficially of course, but he nevertheless took the most hits. He was an easy target because he was a freak. He stood out. He always did, always had. He wasn’t ashamed of it, honestly he wasn’t. He’d been told enough times by his parents and plenty of others that his deformity made him special, cool even. And it certainly had advantages. It made him stronger, and more stable than others. Walking looked a bit awkward, because he sort of skipped along in a bouncy way, but it helped him skate. On the ice he could glide, and tip real far without falling. While skating, that part of him made him beautiful. Not that he would ever use such a word. He never used any positive words to describe himself, because he didn’t want to be seen as boastful. He didn’t want to be seen at all. That’s what it came down to really, this desire to be invisible, for once in his sorry life. He just wanted to blend in. He was tired of always being noticed, of always sticking out. Tired of having this extra appendage always, literally, sticking out.

There was nothing he could do to hide his third leg. It was too big to fold up and tuck away. He was the only person in the world with a third leg, which he knew because he was listed in a bunch of medical textbooks, though his parents had declined to allow his photo to be featured in any Ripley’s Believe it or Not museums. Tripod, that’s what they called him, the other kids, even his friends. But were they really friends if they called him that? Were his teammates friends? They always cheered when he scored a goal or helped block one. They even one time tried to lift him over their heads in celebration, though they hadn’t succeeded, since he was pretty heavy, and his extra leg got in the way. That’s how he felt, like he was perpetually in the way. He envied girls, because they could wear long dresses. But he couldn’t hide what made him different.

“Way to go, Tripod!” laughed Rich as Elliot managed to kick away the puck with his third leg, his extra limb, his add-on body part, his adjunct appendage. The whole team hollered and cheered, and once again, they won the game. They were the best in the minor leagues in all of Quebec, maybe even all of Canada. They were the best, and he was part of that. Wasn’t he? He helped them be the best, and so in some ways, he too, was the best. Wasn’t he? When he’d first started making waves in the minor leagues, there were parents and coaches who’d tried to get him kicked out, who’d claimed that his extra leg gave him an unfair advantage. But then others had argued the opposite, that it was a disadvantage, that it was a defect. The story made the national news. He was famous. Famous for being a freak. Freakishly good at hockey, and just… freakish.

But he didn’t even like hockey. He liked skating, but that’s because it was something he could do alone. Every winter his dad turned their backyard into a skating rink so Elliot could practice hockey, but when no one was watching he wouldn’t even try to hit the puck, he wouldn’t even hold a stick. He’d just skate, going round and round, twirling, free to stop thinking. But hockey was different. Hockey was a team sport and he hated being part of a team, because he wasn’t really part of it. He was always on the outside, and always would be. He’d always be different, he’d always be that weirdo, Tripod.

He couldn’t quit though, even though he wanted to, because his parents wouldn’t let him. They insisted that being part of a team built character, like he didn’t already have plenty of that. He knew they wanted him to stay because soon he’d be recruited into the juniors, and then there might be sponsorships, and then maybe he’d even make it to the NHL, and that’s when the real money would come in. But he knew he’d never make it that far, because he didn’t want it. Even if he did, it would be too hard to fight all those battles again about unfair advantages. The truth was his extra leg was an unfair advantage. It made him better than everybody else, and he hated himself for it. He hated that extra leg. He hated hockey, and he was even starting to hate skating.

After the game, he told his parents he wanted to walk home. They eyed him suspiciously, because he’d done this before, walking home with all his gear, so he could get rid of it. He’d been eight years old the first time he’d dumped all his hockey gear, and claimed to have lost it. He’d known it was expensive, so he figured they’d punish him by disallowing him from playing anymore. But they’d just bought him all new gear and forced him to keep playing. He did it again when he was twelve, and had suffered the same consequences, except this time they’d bought new gear with his allowance money. Now he walked with his skates slung over his shoulders and dropped them in an empty lot, next to to a cigarette butt, and a pile of dog shit, where they belonged. Then he walked home, and before going into the house, he turned around and went back to that empty lot, where he picked up his skates and slung them back over his shoulders. He knew there was no denying his destiny. He was a hockey player, and he was Tripod.

Damn that global warming!

skiesCross-country skiing: the gentleman’s winter sport, thought Edgar Doubledorp. He’d waited a long time for snow this year and it wasn’t until February that there was finally enough powder in his neighbourhood to warrant a jaunt to the park. He’d gone up north once or twice to enjoy their relatively heavy snowfalls, though even up there it hadn’t been as glorious as in his youth. But today was just such a day of glory. There were nearly 50 centimeters out there already with no signs of letting up. The snow was just wet enough to be easily packed, but also powdery enough to allow for easy gliding. There was so much snow in fact that Edgar even skied all the way to the park, as the sidewalks and roads in between had enough coverage to keep him afloat above the asphalt.

Could there be anything more pleasurable that sliding along a blanket of white in absolute still and quiet? Certainly not. Even the shrieks of children having a snowball fight was dampened by the crystal covering. Everything was quiet and peaceful. Along the edge of the park he spied a foodtruck selling hot chocolate and he swished his way over for a treat. As he stood there, sipping his drink, the snowfall lessened, and the sun peaked out from behind the clouds. He finished his hot chocolate and kept along his journey, only to find the sun was getting rather insistent. He stopped a moment to unzip his parka and take out his sunglasses. A few minutes later it became necessary to remove his coat altogether and tie it around his waist. A few minutes after that, even his thermal shirt was becoming uncomfortable.

There was nothing for it but to head home. Edgar turned around with the intention of retracing his tracks, only to find said tracks disappearing. The snow was melting, and fast! He quickened his pace and kept pushing along, dragging his skis through what was increasingly become more wet grass than snow.

When he reached the edge of the park, he pushed up his sleeves, and surveyed the streets before him. The sun was beating down as though it carried a particular vendetta against him but if he hurried he might be able to make it before all the snow was gone. He rushed along the sidewalks, earning himself quizzical looks from passersby in flip-flops, as his skis scraped along the concrete.

He wasn’t even halfway home when he came across an ice cream truck serving cones to children engaged in a water fight. Nearby, a man regarded his vehicle in confusion, staring at the snow scraper in his hand. He caught Edgar’s eye and shook his head in disbelief. Wielding the snow scraper like an axe he raised it above his head and hurled it across his lawn, and it landed by a bush that was threatening to sprout. Edgar followed suit and took off not only his skis but his ski shoes as well, tossing them beside the discarded snow scraper. He and the man looked to each other and nodded with satisfaction. This was littering to be sure, but in this infernal climate, one could not be expected to remain gentlemanly!


The green line

metroThe first thing to be considered in this situation, as in any situation, was the safety of innocent bystanders. The man knew the best thing to do would be to carry out the deed in the privacy of his own home, where no one else would be bothered, with the use of something non-violent like pills, or perhaps a razor blade to the wrists. But the man, who thought of himself as a reasonably empathetic person, wanted, if he was being honest, other people to be bothered. He wanted the event to make the news. He wanted to be known, for once in his life, as a person who had accomplished something interesting. Gruesome perhaps, but interesting none the less. This act was selfish of course, but he was tired of being unselfish. He was sick of being the one who always handed in his work on time, of being the one who always held doors open for others, of being the one who always agreed with the consensus, even though he didn’t actually agree. He wanted, truly, to be disagreeable.

Still, there was no need for anyone else to be put in danger. His first idea had been to jump off a bridge, but that would cause a collision and many drivers and passengers would possibly be killed, and certainly traumatized. On the metro, only the driver of the train would be traumatized, and STM workers were all assholes anyway.

The man chose Lionel-Groulx station because it was busy, and important, but not quite as important as Berri-Uqam. He walked up to the platform on the orange line several times, but lost his nerve, and thought perhaps the green line would be better, because it used the older train cars. No use ruining one of the new cars. He rode the escalator up and down a few times, waiting for the crowd to dissipate. He wanted witnesses but not too many, not enough that they’d be able to stop him. He got off the escalator and stopped, considering his clothes. What a waste, he thought, to ruin a perfectly good dress shirt and pair of slacks. Yet undressing would attract undue attention. Still, his shoes were in excellent shape, and had only been purchased two weeks prior. He carefully took the off and placed them at the top of the escalator, hoping another man with size 10 feet would be able to make some use of them.

Finally, he knew he was ready. He stood at the edge of the platform, where very few others were standing, and waited to hear the train. He sang a nursery rhyme in his head in order to keep doubtful thoughts at bay, and when he would see the headlights, when he could see the man driving the train, he jumped, secure in the knowledge that this was in fact, the right decision.

Barbie’s boot

barbie-boot“You’re a rootin-tootin’ cowgirl!” says the photographer.

“Yeehaw!” replies Barbie, with as much enthusiasm as she can muster.

Today is another photo shoot for Mattel, and Barbie, as usual, is the model. She’s been a veterinarian, a school teacher, a flight attendant, a business woman, a homemaker, an explorer, even an astronaut, but her most steady gig has been as fashion model. Because even when she’s a scientist, she must be pink, and pretty, and perfect.

She’s a cowgirl today, though she’s not sure any horses will be involved. She’s been a country-western singer before, but this assignment is somehow different, as evidenced by the checkered shirt and jeans, as opposed to a denim skirt and pleather jacket trimmed with fringe. Still boots though. Deeply uncomfortable white cowboy boots that angrily graze her calves and make her arches ache. If she were a real woman she’d be able to wear leather shoes, but she’s just a doll, and plastic is good enough for her. She was made with tiny feet and a huge bust and were she human she wouldn’t even be able to stand, let alone run.

But she’s not human and running is exactly what she yearns to do. She’s read enough feminist theory to know that no woman, no person is truly free; we are all prisoners in cages of one type or another. Everyone must fill out TPS reports regardless of what job they are doing. But for some reason, today, Barbie is breaking.

She’s line-dancing now, with Ken, who is supposedly her boyfriend, but feels more like a brother. They are arm in arm, even though his arms don’t bend, so she has to do all the bending for him as well as herself. They kick their legs up and her boot flies off and bumps into the camera. Everyone laughs and the boot is jammed back onto her leg, deepening the bruises that are already building. When the photographer takes a coffee break, she slowly inches away from the set (she is never permitted coffee, or breaks) until she’s reached wardrobe. The prop master eyes her and she pretends to be perusing the garments. When his back is turned, she bolts. Outside she goes, with the sun blasting into her unblinking eyes with unfriendly intensity. She takes a step, and then another, and she trips, because of those fucking boots. Off the left one comes and she pitches it as far as she can, which isn’t particularly far. She takes several more steps and then throws away the right one, letting it rest among the gravel underfoot. Running barefoot is even more painful than wearing those damned boots but Barbie doesn’t care. Barbie is finally free.

The Mailbox

mailboxMolly Perkins was a young woman of simple means and simpler character. She worked hard, but not that hard, at the Tim Horton’s near the university she’d once attended but from which she’d failed to graduate, and lived with three roommates in a two-bedroom apartment a mere ten minute walk from work.

It was a grey and drizzly Monday morning, only fifteen minutes into her shift, when a customer had told her “I hope you’re happy.” She was pretty sure he was being sarcastic because he’d angrily tossed a few pennies into the tip jar as he’d said it, and pennies weren’t even legal tender anymore. He’d been displeased because the cheese on his breakfast sandwich covered only half of his bagel. He’d unwrapped it at the cash, inspected it carefully, deemed it unworthy of his high standards, and rejected it, which was fairly unusual. Most people didn’t look at their breakfast sandwiches from Tim Horton’s. They probably brought them to work and then ate them at their desks at their fancy office jobs. This man had insisted on having another one made for him, which was pretty annoying during the morning rush. They made another one, and it still wasn’t what he wanted, but he said something about being late for an important meeting and took the sandwich anyway. Molly wondered if he always carried around obsolete pennies just for the purpose of flipping off fast-food workers. Regardless, his snarky remark had made her think.

“I hope you’re happy.” Was she happy? No, she most definitely was not. In fact, she’d only ever really been happy once in her life, and that was when she’d been about fourteen years old, and had spent a few weeks at her grandmother’s cottage in Victoria. It had been the best summer of her life, but not because there was anything so great about Victoria and not because she was especially close to her grandmother. Come to think of it, it was more her lack of a relationship with her gran that had made the vacation so good. She’d been completely left to her own devices for the first and only time in her life.

Molly was twenty-nine now, just a few months away from thirty, and she was quite convinced that her life was unbearable. Someone in their thirties should live in a house, with a husband, and a kid, or at least a dog. Not in a shitty apartment, sharing a tiny room with a large roommate. Every day was the same. She had to wake up extra early every morning to get enough time in the washroom, and then she had to spend all day being yelled at by her manager, and cleaning up after sloppy college kids. Then she’d get home and she’d have to clean up after her roommates, ’cause god knew they weren’t going to do it and she needed at least a bit of tidiness in her life. She’d eat leftover bagels and doughnuts for dinner and watch Big Brother Canada, and then everything would happen all over again the next day.

She needed to get back to Victoria. Not to be with her gran, just to be there. Just to start over. It was warmer there for one thing, and nicer. She remembered water, and lots of flowers. She’d been a kid when last she’d visited, so she’d spent most of her time at the beach. She wouldn’t be able to do that so much now, as an adult she’d need to get a job, but they probably had tons of Tim Hortons in Victoria.

When she got home that night she propped her laptop up on her knees and ate a stale muffin while researching airfare to B.C. Before she’d even finished her muffin she closed her laptop and tried to think of an alternate plan. Airfare to Victoria was insurmountably expensive. But she’d mailed her gran a package before, which had been pretty cheap. She rifled through the junk drawer, where she was pretty sure one of her roommates, the one who always left cracker boxes open so all the crackers go stale, kept stamps. She found a whole roll! It was probably best to use as many as possible, just in case.

The next morning, Molly looked up her grandmother’s address on her phone and then wrote it down on a large piece of paper, which she scotch taped to her chest. The tape wasn’t really sticking so she went to the store and got packing tape. Then she covered herself in stamps and marched over to the mailbox right outside the pharmacy. She opened the slot, hefted herself up, and crawled inside, but just her luck, her feet got stuck. Molly wiggled and strained and finally she simply kicked off her booties, which fell outside the mailbox, and dropped down to the bed of letters below. It was fine, she’d just get new shoes in Victoria.

Abandoned Shoes

The first abandoned shoes I ever noticed were in San Francisco in 2014. They evoke thoughts of a young woman out clubbing, taking off her high heeled sandals because her feet hurt after a long night dancing. It’s been so long since she’s had so much fun. It was girls’ night, and she’s a little more than tipsy but not full on drunk. She’s been arguing a lot with her boyfriend lately, which is why she needed this girls’ night so badly. Her friends are still dancing, but she’s tired and just wants to go home so she texts her boyfriend, knowing he’ll pick her up even though things are a bit tense between them right now. She rests her shoes on an empty planter and sits on the curb while she waits, but the reply she gets from her boyfriend is a bit odd. “You up for it?” he asks. Up for what, she wonders. A few moments later he texts again to say he’s sorry but can’t pick her up because he’s drunk and chilling with the boys. But she remembers that he specifically said he wasn’t going to go out tonight.


She doesn’t want to be “that girl”, the one who suspects her boyfriend of cheating, but something feels wrong. She hurriedly calls an uber and rushes home. It is half way through the ride before she realizes she’s forgotten her sandals on the giant planter outside the club and she has to make a quick decision. Will she turn back in the hopes that her shoes are still there, or will she keep heading home in the hopes of catching her boyfriend red-handed. She chooses, of course, to go home, and hops along the corridors of her apartment building on the balls of her feet, trying not to catch whatever diseases are incubating on the peeling linoleum of these floors that probably haven’t been washed since 1973. Why does she even live in such an old, decrepit apartment? She can afford better. It’s her boyfriend who can’t. He works as a busker, and a sometimes waiter, when he deigns to show up for his shifts, while she makes a respectable living a s freelance graphic designer.

She opens the door to her apartment quietly, trying not to jingle her keys, hoping to find him in flagrante on the sofa, or perhaps even the kitchen floor, but mostly likely in their bed. But he’s not home. The place is dark, and empty. This means nothing, and he’s probably at his side-piece’s place right now!

But why is she so sure he’s cheating? And why was she so eager for confirmation? Why does she feel so disappointed? She knows now what she must do. Even if he isn’t cheating, she needs to break up with him. She’s just looking for excuses to get rid of him, but she shouldn’t need an excuse. If she doesn’t love him, she should end it.

She takes a shower, making sure to exfoliate her blackened feet, and wraps herself in her coziest pajamas. She pulls out her boyfriend pro/con list from its hiding place and adds “don’t love him anymore” to the con list, right under “he might be cheating”. On the pro side of the list is “hot”, and “plays guitar”, which she’d penned when he first moved in. The con side is much longer, and has spilled over onto a second page. How long will it need to get before she actually bites the bullet, and makes a change? After all, she began this list six years ago.