A New Pair of Shoes
by Baniester Taylor
Patches of gray clouds hung over the April sky as Robby and his mother sat patiently waited for a bus to take them downtown. Robby, the youngest of three children, cherished the time he spent bargain shopping with his mother each Saturday. Robby is especially excited today because his mother is going to buy him a new pair of dress shoes.
"Mama, I don't want to wear this silly rain hat. The man on the radio said it isn't going to rain today. So why do I have to wear it?"
"Because I said so. Besides, the weatherman is only right some of the time, these aching bones of mine are right all of the time." She smiled at him and they both began to laugh.
Robby and his mother got off the bus in the heart of downtown Oakland at 14th and Broadway. Only a few people were out shopping this early so Robby ran ahead of his mother to look at the large selection of shoes in the window display case at 'Big Bob's Shoes'.
"Wait mother, I want to look at these shoes." Robby pleaded, after she motioned for him to move on.
"O.K.," she said hesitantly as she watched Robby's eyes slowly scan the shoes on display. He pondered over red alligator, brown loafers and blue suede shoes. Finally, he pointed to a pair of black shoes with pinhole designs on the front of them like his father's shoes.
"I like these."
"Are you sure?"
"Well, they're all right for older men that don't run and jump like you. Lets go to another shoe store and see if we can find something better." As they walked down the street the friendly, gray clouds began to look daunting to Robby.
In the window display case at 'Little John's Family Shoe Store' was a sign that read:
"1/2 Off All Children's Shoes on Discount Rack."
"Let's go in here," Robby's mother said as she grabbed his hand and started for the door.
"Sit over there," she told him, pointing to a chair near the register, as she started walking towards the children's discount shoe rack. Robby watched his mother slip into the crowd of people. A few minutes later she emerged with a pair of brown, squire toed, lace-up shoes, similar to the ones she bought him last year. She handed him the shoes.
"Try these on,"
Robby began frowning at the shoes while struggling to get them on.
"They feel tight."
"Try walking in them."
As soon as Robby started walking he began to limp.
"Robby, what's the matter with you?"
"The right shoe hurts my foot."
"Robby, come here. There isn't anything wrong with those shoes."
By the time he reached her she was already down on one knee. She reached for his right foot, then started to squeeze the front of the shoe to see if his toes had enough room. Next, she felt the sides of the shoe to see if it was wide enough. Finally she felt the top of the shoe to see if it was too tight. She did the same thing to the left foot shoe to see if she could detect any difference between them.
"There isn't anything wrong with these shoes except you don't like them. Try walking in them again."
Reluctantly Robby tried to walk in them again. He walked slower this time, but the limp did not go away.
"Stop limping Robby!"
"I can't," he whined.
"Boy, sit down."
As he went to his set she went back to the shoe rack hoping to find another pair of shoes his size but she did not find any. When she approached Robby he looked at her sheepishly. She looked at him unsympathetically.
"Put on your old shoes so we can go."
By the time they left the store cars and people were moving briskly up and down Broadway. As Robby and his mother continued their journey, an occasional raindrop fall on his yellow hat and an occasional tear dorp ran down his face.
"Robby, if we don't find something soon we will have to wait until next Saturday to get your shoes. I don't want to get trapped out here in a downpour." Robby did not say anything; he just stayed close to her side as people rushed by them.
It wasn't very long before they reached 'Spencer's Shoe Store'. Shoes of all styles and colors to choose from were on exhibit in the window display case, but this time it did not take Robby long to find what he was seeking.
"I like those shoes," Robby shouted pointing to a pair of black, round-toe, lace-up shoes in the store widow display case.
"So you do," his mother replied cautiously, noticing the price tag above the stock number was more than she planned on spending for his shoes.
After seating themselves in the store a short, jolly salesmen with a bold spot on the top of his head approached them.
"May I help you Madame?"
"Yes, my son would like to try on number 19-8155."
"What size does he wear?"
"4 1/2 D,"
When the salesman went to the stockroom to get the shoes, Robby looked at his mother and smiled.
When the salesman returned he placed the new shoes on Robby's feet.
"Try walking in them young man," the salesman suggested.
This time Robby had no trouble walking in the new shoes.
"Well, how do they feel," the salesman asked?
Robby gave the man a smiled. He walked up and down the aisle once more. He looked at the shoes; then turned towards his mother.
"Mamma, how do they feel?"
The salesmen eyes darted from Robby to Robby's mother back to Robby then to the floor.
"Come here Robby," his mother whispered. She proceeded to squeeze, push and mash on this pair of shoes as she did the other pair at 'Little John's Family Shoe Store'.
"They feel fine," she said in a soft voice.
"They feel fine to me too." Robby said with a big grin on his face.
"Well, I guess we'll take them."
By the time they left the store a study but light rain fell. People were hurrying up and down Broadway in an attempt to stay dry. Robby held his mother's hand as they marched to the Bus Stop.
"Mamma you're right"
"Oh, am I?"
"Yes; it's raining."
"Yes it is Robby. Hopefully tomorrow will be a sunny day."