She was giddy. Giddy because it was spring. Giddy because her school term was almost over, and the promise of a seemingly endless summer holiday was just about to be kept. Giddy because when you are 21, and summer and eternal sunny days await, it is simply natural to be giddy.
Walking home one afternoon, after attending her world history class where she had listened to her professor lecture on the subject of ancient matrimonial customs, Cecily chose to journey several blocks out of her way and take the longer route through the city park. She was in no particular hurry to return, on such a splendid afternoon, to the small room she rented in the impressively ornate three story Victorian boarding house.
Though it was still spring, Cecily was already dressed for summer in an airy navy blue double-breasted slacks suit, small white hat, and a pair of low heeled black and white spectator pumps. Strolling at a leisurely pace, she spied a group of school boys playing Kick-the-Can along the path in front of her, and impulsively, she swooped in to take a turn ahead of the youthful pack before they caught up to the empty tin.
And then fate played its hand.
Cecily’s foot met the can with more gusto than she had intended, so that when her leg followed through in its upswing, her left shoe took flight, attaining sufficient height, angle, and distance to thump a young man-Roger- standing off to her right, squarely in the back, between his shoulder blades.
Aghast, she was helpless. Helpless to do anything but watch her unwitting target caught by surprise at the force and suddenness of the blow. Hopping deftly over a low rope barricade, Cecily retreated to a green wood and iron park bench where she scrunched on the seat and looked ground ward, pretending to be absorbed in watching a group of pigeons eating the remains of a bag of popcorn. She was certain she had eluded detection .
A deep voice sounded from somewhere above her line of vision, and a hand, sticking out from the sleeve of a tan tropical worsted wool jacket, came forward, holding out a low heeled black and white spectator pump.
“I think I have something that belongs to you.”
In answer to her shocked expression, Roger simply pointed, with the shoe, to a small hand lettered sign, hanging from another section of the rope. WET PAINT.
“Oh!” was the most Cecily could muster.
“You see,” Roger continued, “it was not hard to spot you- the only person brave enough to be sitting here. And then I noticed, on closer inspection, that you were wearing a shoe that was a perfect match to mine. So the game is up. What do you say we introduce our respective shoes and let them become better acquainted. Over coffee perhaps?”
He nodded in the direction of a small brick building across the street, where red and white checked tablecloths cloaked small round tables which had been set outside so that patrons could enjoy the sunshine and fresh air.
“I don’t really see that I have much choice in the matter,” Cecily replied, since you do have my shoe. Although my shoe seems to be the least of my worries at the moment. If I’d known that I would find myself in this predicament, I would have worn something green today.”
“Here.” Roger smiled, handing her his jacket. “This should provide an adequate disguise for that predicament of yours, although I must say, green suits you.”
And he winked.
“Come along. Our coffee is getting cold.”
Although Cecily was enjoying Roger’s company immensely, after an hour or so she told him she really ought to be getting home.
“It’s my pants, you see. The paint is drying and they are becoming rather uncomfortable.”
She blushed, but she had to be truthful. He was disappointed, though he tried not to show it.
“I quite understand, but let me at least walk you home. And if you’ll indulge me, I have to make one quick stop first.”
Roger paid the bill and joined Cecily, where she waited for him on the sidewalk. Taking her by the elbow, he proceeded to steer her towards a small row of shops behind the cafe, stopping in front of a shoe store. He opened the door, and motioned for her to go inside. Puzzled, she heard him reply to the clerk’s “May I help you?” with “Yes. We need a pair of ladies shoes, size…?” he looked at Cecily quizzically.
“ 7,” she answered.
“In size 7.” Roger echoed back to the clerk, and then added, “With lots of straps.”
Turning to face Cecily, Roger explained.
“ I’m awfully glad we met today. I think you are pretty keen, and I’d like to see you again, if you’ll agree to it- but… ” he paused for a moment. And then, as he gave her another wink-
“ I’m just not taking any more chances with your shoes!”