Short Story

Boots

A short story by George Beavis.

From the author:

I have been trying, emphasis on trying, to write about my experiences in Vietnam in a way that I hoped would be more understandable to other people. I think, or hope, I have learned some ways to do that. 

If I have it has only been the result of each of my classmates and the way they have approached each of the tasks and the creativity each has shown plus the encouragement of Michael January, Samuel and the other CM people.

Without their encouragement I would have just left it hanging and not put the effort into it.  It is by no means a work of art, but I feel good that I rewrote it, reworked it and the ideas. The encouragement helped me to keep going on it and I feel very good about that. Who cares about the story. Not me. I do care that I was encouraged and “finished” it!!!!

Boots 

by George Beavis

Watching the news and the camera panned over a dead body covered by a tarp. A foot with a brand new boot sticking out. 

I remember my laces were being pulled tight and wrapped around my ankle twice and knotted. 

After that, we knocked about for a while and then went for a walk. I got pretty wet and muddy. By night time we were back where we started. I was taken off the foot and set on the ground. That didn’t always happen. Sometimes we were so tired we were never taken off and set on the floor. 

Days marched by like that in an endless line until one day when we were out walking and a big explosion knocked us down. 

I woke up in a dark closet. When the door was left open I could look around. My partner, who I considered “Left” wasn’t near me. It got dark again and I was scared. After a while, my eyes began to adjust to the dark in the closet. I looked around and saw other boots lined up. Some singles. Some pairs. 

I just sat there all day for maybe months, so I was able to study the other boots even in the darkish light in the closet. Some were brand new and never really got a chance to even have their soles broken in. Some were badly worn, their toes all scuffed and scared, with their soles worn thin. 

A few boots away was a pair that were all spit-shined and regulation-like. Probably never worked a day in his life, you know the type. I bet he was fragged. 

Mostly we just sat in here and no one paid any attention to us like we had outlived our usefulness. One time someone came and got one of the singles, threw it in the trash then slammed the door. 

** 

I hated that locker. It gave me the willies. If I saw a boot belonging to someone I knew had died, I would throw it out. I didn’t throw out pairs ‘cause it seemed a shame when there was still life in them. When I got ready to rotate back to the states I snagged a pair that looked pretty new and stuffed them in my bag. 

I didn’t try them on until I got back home. I thought they might be good for camping or hiking. I wasn’t trying to be a poser or anything. When I put them on I knew I had made a bad mistake. All the lumps and bumps of the original owner’s feet were still there on the inside. Just walking around in them they reminded me with every step that they weren’t mine. I took them off and set them in the garage for a few years. Every time I saw them they would remind me of that bloody closet and all the dead boots. I eventually threw them out. They were just like an albatross hung around a sailor’s neck to punish.

Short Story · Writing

Yard Car

by James Thiele

I was walking through my neighborhood on a fine spring day and what I saw through a gap in some bushes made me stop in my tracks. Sitting in the yard was the unmistakable boxy shape of a classic Land Rover, star of many National Geographic TV specials from my youth. But instead of trekking through the Sahara or African jungle it was now parked on the grass in a residential neighborhood of Seattle. It was still covered in colored leaves from the previous fall. It had become something else I remembered from my younger days — a yard car.

As a teenager growing up in a farming region of Indiana, it seemed that every house in the countryside had a car sitting on blocks in the front yard. Not to pick on Indiana though — people from rural areas all across America talk about this. “Yard car” is a generic term for any non-working vehicle sitting in the yard. This includes pickup trucks, tractors, RVs and other more unusual specimens. Once in Washington state I saw a lifeboat from a World War 2 cargo ship in someone’s yard. It was pretty big and rather far from the ocean so it wasn’t there by accident.

No car starts out wanting to be yard car. Every car comes out of the factory shiny and new with a possibly bright future ahead of it. But one day the future yard car won’t start. If another working vehicle is available this one gets left home. Assuming it can’t be fixed quickly and affordably it will be pushed off of the driveway and onto the yard. For awhile the owners will glance at it and mutter “I really ought to get around to fixing that.” But as time passes it inevitably starts getting stripped for parts. Somebody needs a new battery or radio or whatever and the one in the car in the yard will fit. Eventually the tires get removed the car goes up on blocks.

The Land Rover was not the only yard car in my neighborhood. A Ford Mustang from the 1960s was surrounded by weeds which had grown to half the height of the tires. The Mustang’s body looked good and made me wonder why it was sitting in the overgrown grass.

Both the Land Rover and Mustang were out of their respective yards before I moved out of the neighborhood. I’m sure the Mustang sooner or later will make it into the hands of a car enthusiast who will buff it up and show it off on weekends. The Land Rover probably won’t make it back to the Sahara (if it was ever there) but may regain some self esteem four wheeling through the Pacific Northwest backcountry.

But the true yard cars, sitting on blocks in rural front yards, aren’t going anywhere soon. Maybe someday it will get sold for parts or the owner may simply get tired of looking at it and pay to have it hauled away.


I got the idea for this in a writing class at Sound Mental Health (Hi LT).  I wrote it in a Path With Artwriting class (Hi Scott) and recited it at a PWA Showcase (Hi Nikki). It was later published in a small local literary journal.