Dear reader, I had said I’d publish this short story in ONE GO, but it ran away with me, growing into a longish short story – too long for one sitting! So, I’m breaking it up into
3 or 4 as-many-as-it-takes parts, to be published every Sunday (the usual day when I posted The Hotel Unicus series). I’ll be rating it 16+ due to the mature themes, but as is my way there is more mystery in the absence of gory details, which terrify me. Horror/mystery/pretanatural. I hope you like it.
Have you missed Part Five?
Just to re-cap…..
“I would like to know more about Father Will Mulford” I said to the man at the door of the church.
“Come me with me now,” he managed to push the heavy door shut, “we’ll sit in Will’s office and chat. Or, rather more accurately, I will show you what has been written and collected on file. It was Will’s work. Very important it is too.”
~ Part Six ~
The room, I found, was L-shaped, mysterious in its semi-darkness, with floor-to-ceiling filled bookcases to the left and right and ahead of me. But when I turned the bend – of which would take four normal strides to reach – I was suddenly confronted by the area being awash in bright artificial light, directed from above. I blinked in the glare and looked about. There were no windows. There were more bookcases, an old battered metal filing-cabinet, and some plastic chairs stacked against the walls and a 1940s’ oak wardrobe in an end-corner. Olive-green paint could be glimpsed between the shelves and furniture. And whilst the flagstones were bare at the entrance of the room, here the floor was covered in a heavy duty light-brown rug. An original Art Deco desk of oak stood at the very end of this 20-foot-something long space; and opposite it, a squishy sofa presumably for clients or even naps. I ran my finger along the smooth surface of the desk, noting the neat stacks of papers placed either side of an impressive new-looking computer.
The smell of old books and beeswax was distinct and comforting.
Poor Will, this had been his space.
Now beside me at the desk, the old man flicked on a switch and a warm glow emitted from a green Tiffany lamp.
“My daughter’s always forgetting to switch off the overhead lights.” He muttered.
“I don’t understand..” I began, the words hung mid-sentence.
He gestured for me to sit in the swivel Captain’s Chair at the desk. With welcome relief to ease my crippling pain, I obliged. The demonic shoes were restless and had tightened their grip on my poor feet.
He still would not look at them.
He lent against the sturdy desk with the knobbly bent cane gently tapping its side. “That fancy computer was bought for Will by a very grateful friend.” He searched my face. The blue-grey eyes in a nest of wrinkles. Eyes that wanted to help.
“I’m very sorry about Father Mulford.” I crumpled over his kind face. Over Will’s cruel death. Over the fact that he and the priest knew more about the Red Shoes that could possibly help me. I cried and he patted my head like I was some kind of forlorn dog – one lost without a way to go home.
“Now I’ve seen you cry, I ought to introduce myself, I’m Dougi – Dougi Woods.”
He’d given me his handkerchief to wipe my eyes and nose. He’d pulled up one of the plastic chairs and was sitting in it beside me. The computer was switched on.
“I’m Fran Fenton.”
There was a pause. “I don’t know why, but the surname rings a bell…”
“Did you know my father, Pete Fenton? He repaired cars and motorbikes, he ran a small business doing that for years. He’s sadly not with us anymore.”
Dougi narrowed his eyes in thought. “Yes, I do vaguely remember Pete Fenton: a quiet boy, had a love of the classics, I once bought a car off him…a ’68 Morris Minor…lots of curly hair.”
“Yes, that’s Dad. Unfortunately, he lost all that curly hair.”
“Sorry; cancer was it?”
“No, baldness. He died of a heart attack – a year ago.”
He gave me a sympathetic look and there was a little silence. Then, he said: “I must tell you: It’s wise not to give it – or rather more accurately, them – too much attention.”
“Them?” I whispered.
“Twins.” He said looking back at the computer screen.
I, too, stared at the screen. At nothing on the screen. “I didn’t know that they came in twos.”
“Mmm, yes. I suppose it makes sense really, considering the objects they cling to. Do you think you’re ready to see a picture of them?”
Although I inwardly recoiled I said: “Yes, why not?”
I learnt about the various information Will had worked tirelessly upon acquiring. The history of the Red Shoes Twins, the drawings and paintings, the murals, the many similar narratives. There were files on the computer, paper files on the desk and even books.
At five o’clock Dougi left me in Will’s office. “I have to hear the confessions but you’re welcome to stay. Afterwards we can get something to eat from the kitchen. You can help yourself to tea or coffee – it’s the door next to the office one.”
“I didn’t know that you are a priest.” I was taken aback.
“Yes, it’s true. I repented for my sins in later life.”
“And, you have a daughter…?”
He smiled and looked decades younger. “My little Nadine. Named after the Chuck Berry song. I adopted her, or rather more accurately, she adopted me.”
[Above: illustration of the Red Shoes Twins, Isabelle Andersen, 1955. Source: The Book of Dangerous Shoes.]
…………to be continued!
Did you enjoy this story?
If so, I’d love to hear from you!
Inspired by: My own red Italian shoes (in another life when my life was more high heels than wheels).
The Red Shoes by Hans Christian Andersen
The Red Shoes, the film, 1948
Copyright Faith McCord 2018
Story and artwork belongs to Faith McCord who is the author and artist holding the copyright. This is not a public domain work. Worldwide rights.