The Missing Shoe

1313345498What was a pretty little white girl doing in the middle of the ghetto? She was lithe and fragile, pale and pretty, and she had just turned eighteen.

It hadn’t rained in months and everyone was on edge. It was unbearably hot that summer. The apartment, her first, was right in the middle of the city. She liked it there. She finally felt like a part of everything rather than on the edges.

Her neighbors thought she was slumming and they were probably right. With one phone call, she could be whisked away to a better life. They had no such opportunities, but they soon forgot to hold it against her. She blended into the scenery with the homeless and the lost.

She was totally fearless, partially because she was so young–the young always think they are invincible–but there was a hint in her eyes that said she just didn’t care. The only way to truly be fearless is to know that you will die. She knew. It’s probably more accurate to say that she just didn’t care whether she lived or not. It was all the same to her.

When she came home, all dressed up in high heels and a skirt, in the middle of the night, in the middle of the ghetto, in a place where, defying all logic, she had no right to be, and the man approached her, she was unafraid. This was not the way she would go out, but if it turned out that she was wrong, so be it. In that moment, her life had not gone horribly wrong; it was just beginning.

She saw the gun, she heard the threat, she felt his hand on her arm. When he dragged her to the alley between the buildings and began pawing at her clothes, she felt nothing except annoyance and disgust.

The problem with human anatomy is that we don’t have enough arms. It’s difficult to hold a gun and rip someone’s clothes off at the same time. She looked only at the gun and waited. When it pointed at the street for a split second, she grabbed the barrel with both hands and jammed a knee up between his legs at the same time. He went rolling over on his side.

She got up off the ground and insensibly began looking for her missing shoe. When she caught sight of him a moment later, she gave up and ran. She ran with one heel into her building, into the place with the many arms that would protect her. She found her neighbors, the biggest ones, and they only asked where. She told them and they ran. After what could have been minutes or days, they came back with her shoe.