Mort Laitner

The Gold Sneakers

After licking the peanut butter off of the edge of the knife, Richard Cory moistened his index finger, rubbed it across the paper plate and caught the last of the crumbs of burnt toast.

“I love living dangerously. I’m a reckless risk-taker.”

And as Cory digested his breakfast, he focused on Donald Trump on Fox unveiling his $399.00 “Never Surrender” Gold Hi Tops. Richard laughed. “This guy, a former president, was reduced to hawking sneakers. What’s next Tupperware? Doesn’t he understand that he surrendered his dignity for the American dollar. What an f’ing example for American kids.”

But Richard loved those sneakers.

He thought, “$399.00 for a pair of high tops, that’s pretty steep. They’re gaudy. They’re gold. They’re kitsch. They’re patriotic with those red stars, white soles and blue stripes.

He loved the shoe’s branding with that large gold capital letter “T.”

Cory imagined his friends asking, “Richard, do you have shit for brains? Only a moron would spend that much money on a pair of sneakers. Trump’s having them made in Chinese sweatshops, paying less than 50 bucks a pair and dumbass Republicans are shelling out 400 bucks for them. You’re not a member of that low IQ cult, are you? ”

“What a  conflict, what a conundrum, what inner turmoil. I’m stuck on the horns of a dilemma,” Richard fretted.

On one hand, he knew Trump was a conman, a criminal, an insurrectionist, a fraud, a rapist, a racist, a homophobe and a traitor to democracy, women’s rights, justice and the American way.

On the other hand, he wanted them.

The shoes talked to him, as if puppies in a pet shop window yelping, “Buy me. Buy me. Buy me. Please buy me.”

So Richard did.

And then he scratched his head and wondered:

When I step into and lace up those beauties will I change?

Will I take on some of  Donald’s traits?

So when the sneakers arrived on an Amazon truck, Richard’s smile grew to the size of the one painted on the side of the van.

He grabbed the box from the delivery man, forgetting to say thank you and ran into his house.

As he ran, he noticed that box felt warm and it gave off a light hint of sulfur.

Safely in his home, he screamed, “My babies have arrived. I can’t wait to put them on.”

Cory ripped off the wrapping paper, yanked off  the lid and ran his fingers across the soft leather. He loved the smell of new sneakers.

His eyes glistened with pride. “They’re beautiful and I own them. They’re mine.”

He slowly inserted his feet into the shoes and carefully laced them up.

They felt so comfortable that he thought about kissing them.

“Now, I’m off to the mall to break them in and to watch people’s reactions to my new shoes.”

As he walked about the mall, people stared, pointed and laughed. Richard didn’t care. He loved the attention.

But when he saw a large breasted blonde woman walking into Chico’s, she reminded him of a porn star or was it a hooker. His brain screamed, “Grab those humongous beauties. Grab her by the short hairs.”

This monster was not him. Had the devil taken possession of his soul? Had he lost control of his brain and his hands. He wanted to cop a feel. He wanted to follow her into the dressing room and have his way with her. She’d like it. She’d love it. And she’d never sue.

“What was happening? This is not me. Was it my Hi Tops? Were they cursed? Had Donald Trump infected my soul when I put on those sneakers?”

Richard yanked off the sneakers, ran barefoot to the nearest trash receptacle and threw them into the can.

A shoeless Richard Cory took a deep breath, pictured his mug shot and thanked G-d for allowing him the strength to throw away those shoes, He had avoided financial ruin and imprisonment.

“Thank G-d, I’m not burnt toast.”

About the Author
Florida's Jewish short-story writer, speaker, film producer and retired attorney. He has authored, "A Hebraic Obsession", "The Hanukkah Bunny" and "The Greatest Gift." He produced an award-winning short film entitled, "The Stairs". Movie can be viewed online. ChatGPT says, Mort is known for his works that often explore themes of love, loss, and the human connection. Laitner has published several books , including “A Hebraic Obsession.” His writing style is characterized by its emotional depth and introspection. Laitner’s works have garnered praise for their heartfelt expression and keen insight into the human experience. Mort is in his third year as president of the South Florida Writers Association. He was a correspondent for the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel Jewish Journal.
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