The Shoe Salesman

Author – Eric

My best pal Joe runs a bar on the edge of town, busy in the evenings but during the daytime it’s empty. Sometimes the occasional traveller calls in for a bar meal. I worked night shift at a local factory and spent most afternoons here playing pool with Joe.
One quiet afternoon we where playing pool when a guy walked in and ordered some food and drink. Joe went to prepare the guys order.
‘Wanna a game’ asked the guy.
‘I’m a mean player’ I  joked.
The guy introduced himself as John ‘I’m Eric’ I said.
‘Well then Eric let’s make it interesting’ he said placing $5 on the table. Feeling confident I placed $5 on top of his. I won, then the next game too. He complimented my pool skills. He eat his lunch then offered to play one last game and put $50 on the table.
‘I have only got the $10 I won earlier’ I said. 
‘Those sneakers you’re wearing should cover the bet’ he said.
‘My Nikes are worth more than $50’ i told him.
‘OK’  he said as he picked up his money ‘A confident player would have their eyes on the prize and not what they would lose’ he continued.
‘I’m confident but the bet needs to be equal, another $20, my sneaks against $70’ I told him, he agreed and we shook hands. Easy money I thought as I winked at Joe standing behind the bar.
He smiled, looked down at my feet and told me to take them off.
‘You haven’t won yet’ I said
‘All wagers to be placed on the table’ he said placing his money down.
‘One game of pool in your socks ain’t gonna hurt’ said Joe. I told the guy I changed my mind.
‘Too late, we shook on it, they ain’t your shoes anymore unless you win, so take them off’ he said. I was stunned realising that the shoes on my feet suddenly didn’t belong to me. I took them off and looked at my socks, bright red with green frogs. They had been my last clean pair. Both Joe and John laughed as I explained I’d not done my laundry. My face was as red as my socks as I placed my Nikes on the table,  John stuffed his $70 in one of my sneakers. I’d never played in my socks before, that small height adjustment made a big difference with my performance. My confidence went totally as two guys walked in staring at my socked feet. My opponent didn’t have to try very hard as I quickly lost the game and my sneakers.
I sat shoeless at the bar, ‘You not gonna try and win your shoes back’ said one of the new guys. John suggested that he could play to win them back for me. ‘If you win, he gets his shoes and you get the $70, you just need to match the bet’ he said looking down at the guys footwear. He was wearing a pair of worn high top Vans, his pals sneakers  weren’t much better either, worn Adidas Sambas. ‘Both pairs of shoes would match the cash but not the Nikes’ he said. He looked at Joe who was stood behind the bar ‘What you wearing?’ Joe said keep me out of it. ‘It’s my only chance to get my sneaks back’ I  pleaded with Joe who shook his head but pulled off a shoe anyway and lifted it above the bar, he was holding a worn black TN, enough to match my shoes.
‘If you win you get to keep your sneakers and the money, I’ve only seen one of you play so you have the advantage as to who plays against me, if you agree then place your sneakers on the table’. The two guys liked the idea of winning $70 however Joe was hesitant but eventually agreed providing he played, afterall he had the most to lose. The two guys pulled of their sneaks placing them on the table next to my Nikes, Joe came from behind the bar still wearing one shoe, he took it off and placed his TN’s on the table. The two guys sat next to me at the bar in their white socked feet. Joe confidently did the break and walked around the table in his black socked feet. John failed to pocket anything giving Joe the advantage and he started clearing the table.I was confident my sneaks would be back on my feet very soon. However with one stripe to pocket he managed to snooker himself allowing John to clear most of his balls. With one ball each Joe hit the cue ball too hard causing it to angle of the cushion and pocketed the black ball losing the game by default. ‘God damn it’ he shouted. John smiled sympathetically ‘You where over confident with that last shot’ he said asking Joe for a plastic sack to put all the sneakers in. John scored a round of drinks as a consolation, we watched our shoes disappear into the sack.
John told us he was a travelling shoe salesman, Joe asked if he could buy back his TN’s as he had a long shift ahead of him working the bar. John told him he couldn’t afford them as he makes big bucks selling mens used sneakers online. ‘You won’t get much for my old Vans’ said one of the other guys. John smiled ‘There’s certain websites that pay bigger bucks for mens worn sneakers, the more trashed the better especially when there’s a story behind them’ he said. ‘It’s been a good day sourcing new stock for my business’ he said picking up the sack with our shoes inside.
We all sat in our socked feet watching John leave the bar with our sneakers. I had several blocks to walk in my colorful socks.

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