“Here. Thanks again for the hand,” Edgar offered a Donna a cold, red can of soda. She eyed it suspiciously and smirked at the shop’s owner.
“I still get a free pair, right?” Edgar laughed and pushed the drink into her hand.
“Of course, that was the deal. Inventory’s a bitch and I figured you could use a drink.”
“Thanks.” Donna nodded and popped the top open. After she took a big gulp she looked around at the assortment of open shoe boxes laid out on the floor. So far they’d accounted for 150 pairs; they were almost halfway done.
“I can handle the rest of these,” Edgar said. He gestured at the crowded floor. “Can you get started on the ones in back?” He handed Donna a clipboard with a printed inventory list on it. She grabbed the clipboard, nodded, and high-stepped her way around the boxes to move to the back room.
The storage room consisted of a narrow rectangular hall, made narrower by a shelf hanging on the far wall. The wire-frame shelf took up half the room, but it was wide enough to hold three shoe boxes front to back. Seven rows from top to bottom.
“At least they’re already organized,” Donna mumbled to herself. She took another drink of cola and got to work. Over an hour later she checked off 200 hundred pairs of shoes, but she found 201. A pair of black and gold cowboy boots seemed jammed behind a shelf support on one of the higher shelves. Donna tried using the step-ladder, but her arms and legs were too short. Edgar walked into the back room right at the moment she debated calling him.
“I’m done, how’s it going?” he asked. Donna climbed down the ladder and pointed upward; the boots could be seen through the wire shelves.
“I’m done too, except those aren’t on the list,” she said. Edgar glanced up, and his eyes squinted in confusion.
“I’ve never even seen those,” he said. He stepped on the ladder and climbed up.
“Dibs! That’s the pair I want!” Donna shouted. She liked the black and gold pattern on them. Edgar chuckled.
“You’ve been a life-saver. If these aren’t in the system you can have them and another pair.”
“Thank you!” Donna cheered. She watched Edgar reach for the boots. Even though his arms were longer he still seemed to have trouble reaching.
“What the hell? You saw that, right??” Edgar shouted down at Donna. When he reached for the boot, his hand went through it like it wasn’t there.
“Try again,” Donna encouraged. Edgar reached and again swiped through the phantom boot. “Try the other one,” she added. Edgar reached for the other boot, and this time he made contact with the black leather. After grazing it with his fingers several times he finally landed a solid grip and pulled it out. The phantom boot disappeared once he moved the other one.
“Are you sure you want ghost boots?” Edgar asked. He inspected the boot from all angles. Gold thread formed a fleur-de-lis on the outside of the boot. On the inside heel of the boot, he saw the number 22 in gold numbers surrounded by a black circle.
“Absolutely,” Donna smiled at him. He dropped her the boot then climbed down the ladder. By the time he got down Donna was already seated on his desk kicking her right shoe off. “It looks like it’s my size too!” she smiled.
“You’re just gonna put it on? We both saw the other boot disappear.” He knew once Donna’s mind was made up he couldn’t stop her, but he tried to remind her how unnatural the situation was. If it weren’t for her handling it so casually he would definitely be freaking out. But their friendship had always been like that. In 20 years he’d never seen her freak out about anything. She smiled at him and wiggled her toes at the entrance to the boot.
“Here I go! If it starts eating my foot just chop my leg off,” she chuckled. Edgar knew she was joking, but he still gave a quick glance around the room and picked out the fire axe. Just in case. Donna pushed her foot in and sank it down to the bottom. Her eyes rolled back slightly, and she let out a soft moan.
“It’s soooooooooooo comfortable…” she smiled. “I wish I had the pair.”
“You do,” Edgar said. He pointed at her other foot. It wore the matching boot. Donna lifted her right leg up.
“Take it off!” she said. He pulled it off her foot, and the other boot disappeared. “Put it on!” she wiggled her toes. Donna kept her eye on her left foot as Edgar pushed her right foot into the boot. Once she felt the boot on completely a matching boot appeared on her left foot.
“Whoa. This is gonna take some getting used to,” Donna said. She stood up to pace the narrow hall. “These are great! Feels like I’m walking on air.” She paced to the end, then turned around to walk towards Edgar.
“You are,” Edgar said once she reached him. He stood directly in front of her to show the discrepancy. The top of his head came to her chin. He put a hand on her shoulder and pulled her down to the ground.
“Now, about my other free pair…” Donna gave him a giant smile.