About a month ago, I opened a contest in which P&T friends could submit works of Knicktion to be read, judged, and voted upon by the P&T community. The submissions are in and will be posted daily (sometimes twice daily) for your pleasure. Voting and prizes and stuff will take place once all the entries have been posted. By request, I won't reveal the identities of our submitters until the end (or whenever the authors feel it is appropriate). Well, except for our first submission. Sorry, YuckFou.
A few notes on the pool of submissions as a whole: Some are long, some are short. Some are prose, some are poetry, some are floetry. All were acceptable. None of the submissions have been in any way edited by me (although I'll probably have to play with some formatting), but in some instances, I sent the submission back to its composer for a bit of proofreading. No matter what, please be respectful in the comments. But you knew that.
Take the jump for submission #6.
Weekend at Barney's
or Flaying and Playing
As Clyde Frazier's Rolls-Royce rounded the corner on East 61st Street, his driver slammed on the brakes. A young man had stepped off the curb and entered the Phantom's path.
"Precocious neophyte," Clyde muttered to the man's muscular back as he strolled on, unaware or unconcerned with his close encounter. He had no idea what could have happened if he got too close to Walt "Clyde" Frazier.
The car pulled up in front of Barneys, Clyde's favorite department store in New York. Clyde had made a speaking appearance at the Rockland County Board of Realtors' annual gala last night, and his bank account was seventy-five hundred big ones fuller. He was going to buy himself some new shoes. He opened the door and placed his right snakeskin loafer on the curb. The snakehead on top stared up at him, and he stared right back into its black, unimpressed eyes. The shoe knew it was famous, but Clyde reminded it that it was only famous because he was wearing it. There were very few men capable of sporting python loafers with the snake's head still attached, but Clyde was one of them. Clyde could wear items that would cow lesser men. Today, in addition to the shoes, he was wearing a green plaid Pendleton suit. Pendleton didn't even usually make vines, but Clyde had had it made for him when the Knicks stopped in Portland. It was his second time wearing it, and he probably would never wear it again. He also wore a black leather Clyde, which is what he called his signature wide-brimmed hat. The hat was special. He didn't usually wear hats like that anymore. It brought him back to the old days.
The bewitching smell of perfume and cool leather swirled through Clyde's nostrils as he entered the store. Any stressful distractions, like work or finances or his woman, instantly exited his mind. Clyde was always calm and composed, but a mechanical, predatory detachment came over him when he shopped. He wasn't here to pass the time; he had a goal, an itch to that needed scratching. His footwear collection was vast and awe-inspiring. He had his own signature sneaker when Michael Jordan was wiping swamp mud off his Converse back in some North Carolina swamp. He possessed shoes in nearly every color and style imaginable, made out of materials from throughout the animal kingdom: stingray cowboy boots, kangaroo monkstraps, komodo dragon oxfords. He had at least one pair of leather shoes from the hide of every breed of cow on Earth. But it wasn't enough. Clyde wasn't sure what could satisfy his shoe desire, but he was here today to try.
Maurice, Clyde's fashion consultant at Barneys, met him in menswear.
"Good morning, Mr. Frazier. How was the drive down?"
"Fine, Maurice. There's no need for pleasantries. Let's get down to heeling and dealing."
"Surely, Mr. Frazier. I gather you're here for footwear today?"
"This way, if you may."
Maurice walked to display and picked up a pair of brown suede chukka boots.
"Varvatos. Fawn. Handmade in Rome."
They were beautiful boots, but Clyde was unmoved. He had a suede suit made from the skin of a buck he had shot on a trip to Phil Jackson's old house upstate. Something more was needed.
Maurice returned the boots to their place. He thought for a moment, and went around to a rack out of Clyde's sight. When he returned, he was carrying a pair of black, turquoise and gold paisley print loafers.
"Jimmy Choo. Whole cut. Venetian. Highly unusual, yes?"
Clyde's heart sank. He felt the old anhedonia creeping back in. This was all wrong. The room seemed too bright. The leather smelled like a slaughterhouse. Clyde closed his eyes. He made a decision. When he opened his eyes, Maurice was staring at him.
"Yes, Mr. Frazier?"
"Take me to the Boutique."
Maurice suddenly paled.
"The Boutique, sir?"
Maurice gulped, checked his watch, rubbed his neck. He was clearly hesitant, but he had no choice.
"Follow me, Mr. Frazier."
Maurice led Clyde to an elevator in the very back of a stockroom. He took a key from his inside jacket pocket and placed it into the service keyhole. The elevator lurched then began to descend. It moved slowly and methodically. Clyde heard the roar of a passing subway train. The elevator door opened into a dank sub-basement. They walked across the room to what appeared to be a walk-in refrigerator. There was a combination lock around the handle. Maurice entered the code, and then they were in.
The Boutique was a dimly lit, warehouse-like room roughly the size of a football field. It smelled like wet cement. Each wall was fully occupied by shelves stacked to the ceiling. On the shelves were guns, tightly wrapped kilos of various powder drugs, and all matter of other macabre items. A beautiful woman in lingerie emerged from the shadows and approached the two men. In each hand she had a flute of champagne.
"Welcome, gentlemen. Is there anything I can help you with?" she purred.
Her green eyes looked deep into Clyde's as she handed him his drink. Her long nails grazed his knuckles.
"We're here for footwear," Maurice told her.
She nodded, and turned and walked away without a word. Clyde could not keep his eyes off her toned, lacy backside as he followed.
They reached the farthest wall. Like upstairs, there were display racks filled with shoes. These shoes, though, were unlike shoes Clyde had seen in a long time. He didn't think they made things like these anymore. Elephant loafers like the ones he had in the seventies. Winter boots lined with the fur of baby seals. Moccasins blessed by a Hopi shaman. All of these were impressive, but they weren't exactly right. They didn't make Clyde feel like a champion or a panther. He tracked his eyes along the wall like an assassin watching a candidate. He stopped on a pair of brown wingtips. His eyes widened.
"Ah, those..." the woman lustily stage-whispered. She picked them up delicately. They glowed as if backlit.
"These are a truly remarkable pair of shoes. Before I let you try them, though, I have to warn you that you may not be prepared to handle what I tell you about them."
Clyde looked at her impassively.
"I can take it, baby."
She smiled. "These brogues are Irish. Made by Sinn Fein's in-house cobbler. The sole is ash. The upper is made from the hide of a British politician captured in Belfast in 1979. They are the only known pair of manskin shoes in the world."
Clyde's heart raced as he took them into his hands. He had never encountered leather that felt so smooth or smelled so fresh. The laces were a mermaid's hair. The perforations were perfect circles. Clyde ran his finger over them like an executioner sharpening his blade.
"I've never seen pebbling this fine. How did the cobbler do it?"
"He has a diamond-encrusted pressing plate."
Clyde was finally ready to try them on. He sat down on an ivory chair and removed the snakeskin loafers. He handed them to Maurice for safekeeping. The heads shot the manskin wingtips a jealous glare. Clyde delicately unlaced the left, then the right, gently loosed the tongue, first left, then right, and slid them on, first left, then right. He stood up.
Clyde was crouching by a window, looking down onto the street below. He was wearing a black turtleneck sweater, black slacks, and the wingtips. He tightly gripped an AK-47. Gary, his lieutenant, fired shots out of the adjacent window.
"Seamus! Kill as many fookin' unionists as you can before reinforcements arrive!"
A car blew up somewhere nearby. Gary ran out of the room with feline quickness.
Clyde had seen enough. He took off the shoes.
He was back in the Boutique. Maurice and the woman were staring at him. Maurice looked confused, but the woman looked hungry. Her face was like a tribal mask.
"So?" she whispered.
"They're styling and profiling," Clyde replied.
Her voice dropped even lower as she leaned in close and asked, "what did you see?"
"That's personal, babe. But you gotta believe it was cool."
Suddenly, her eyes rolled back in her head and she threw her arms up.
"The shoes have chosen their rightful owner!" she exalted. There was a flash, and a puff of smoke, and a noise like lightning striking a skyscraper, and she was gone.
Maurice cried out in terror. Clyde turned to him calmly. Maurice had gone pale again, and he was shaking. Clyde smiled.
"Maurice," Clyde drawled. "Take me to menswear. I need a new vine."