(C) Copyright SNOWbear Productions. T h a n k Y o u F o r V i s i t i n g


 It had been a rough day at work.  Yeah everybody says that, but for Keith Thatcher it really had been a crazy day from start to finish.  After an early morning mishap and forgetting to document a client’s fall; his mood just seemed to spiral downward out of control with one accident after another.  Then nearing the time to transport a group of workers to another center; Keith blurted out a few wrong choice of words in an exchange with a high level supervisor who passed him in a hallway.
   Next thing Mr. Thatcher knew was the exact tile count, window panes, brown shoes, snot-nosed yelling children, and other people that could crowd into the unemployment line two days later.  It was just crazy how one incident could wind him in such a mess.

   He was getting the finishing touches of his last move all packed up into the rental van.  All Keith needed was that one last box, and to shut the door.  The late afternoon cast its weary shadows over his shoulders and into the now empty apartment with that last look over.  The moment of closing the door seemed to strangely last a lot longer than it should have as Thatcher’s view grew slender with the shutting door.  Almost depressingly so was that final chapter closed.  He felt his own story had just taken a sad turn as the brass key tumbled through the familiar lock that last time.
   Keith was tired, the last few hours had been spent in a mad rush to clean and pack up his last residence, and now his new adventure of unpacking lay before him with a sigh from his couch. Sitting there with a single lamp to glow the crowded room, he snorted a laugh to himself aloud, “Man, what a hoarder I’ve become.” He shook his head, visually taking in all the randomly stacked boxes that had been hap-hazardly stacked along with other odds and ends.
   Keith Jonas Thatcher had virtually given away his entire 32 years of life to the donation center near the old downtown area; yet, it felt like he had not even made a dent in the memories.  Actually, smirking a laugh as he held up a pair of high-top boots, Keith realized he had just picked up as much stuff as he had given away.
   There was something compelling about the strap-up-to-the-knee military boots that the 32 year old temp worker found rather fascinating.  Though a worn red-leather, they could have been new.  For Keith they were.  He had remembered seeing an old photograph one time of his great grandfather wearing just such a pair.  He looked so comfortable in them too, sitting in a chair playing with his kids in front of a tent.  Like so many other destitute families during the dirty 30’s, Keith’s own had lived out of their Ford pick-up and canvas tent.  He knew his father’s grandfather was just a child during the Great War to end all wars; but these boots seem to hold a flood of memories of their own - somehow.

   Without thinking, Keith slipped off his penny loafers.  Replacing his tired argyle with tube socks; which felt good being rubbed, he reached into a near by box.  Then, absentmindedly clicking the remote his shoulders slumped.  “Great!” With the HD’s screen remaining blank for far too long its remote flew from the frustrated viewer back into the open box and landed atop the unconnected HD cables.  The television like everything else had yet to be unpacked.  Slipping his tired foot into the long entrance of the boot was a tight fit, but fit it did - like it had been tailor made just for him.  But as Keith was finishing up the second boot's wrap-around-strap on the right foot, and his heel found that comfortable niche, there was a loud explosive bang outside his front door.
   Running to the door he flung it wide open.  Half expecting the apartment’s courtyard to be filled with rushing neighbors inspecting the noise like him, Keith found himself engulfed in a cloud of smoke.  Thinking the complex was on fire, he coughed his way forward with squinted burning-eyes.  One hand covering his mouth and an out stretched arm fanning a path ahead.

   Just as someone began yelling, they shoved something into his hand, “You dropped this soldier. Now get ready men, we’re the next to go over the top.  They don’t call this No Man’s Land for no reason. This is it!”  The voice was harsh, but commanding.
   As the smoke was clearing, Keith saw that not only had a rifle been given him, but along with his boots he had been outfitted like his new companions.  He was now a soldier in the trenches of World War I.  Surrounded by praying, crying, screaming, stern faced men lined along a ditch.  Frighten like him.  But he for reasons all his own.  He saw the booted soles of the bodies that lay face down atop the very ridge he and everyone else were now told to climb.  His stomach churned.  Unbelievably Keith’s own hand reached out, like all the other men readying their stance at a wooden latter, awaiting for the whistle to be blown.  When he was nudged out of the way by another younger man.  He had glory written all over his face.  Wild grin with brilliant eyes.  Shell shocked he was with a bandage wrapped about his left elbow, muck smeared across his uniform and no foot ware at all.  Looking down at Keith’s boots, the man cutting in line said, “Hey, Yank I’ll take those back thank you very much.”
   Trembling with an indescribable fear, Keith just stood there frozen in the winter mud and haze.  Suddenly tossing his weapon aside, Keith fell down in the muck of the trench desperately trying to unlace his boots.  All the while a Captain’s screaming orders were being silenced by the barrage of artillery fire and yelling men, dying to follow their duty scrambling over the embankment before them. The bootless soldier had scrambled up the latter anyway and was blown back into the trench riddled by gun fire.

   As the second worn-leather boot was flung from his trembling hand it hit the corner of his 60” Plasma Screen.  Unexpectedly the thing came on by itself blaring in the middle of a conversation between two Detectives of Law & Order.  The sweat drenched Keith stopped in mid heave realizing he was back in his new apartment.
  Seated on his suede couch, among the maze of his belongings, Keith’s breathing returned to normal as his mind whirled between thinking about having had two sets of HD cables, and what in the - had just happened? His bewildered eyes scanned the room for the right remote to lower the volume.  Shaking his head, he stood up on his socked feet, and quickly grabbed the newly acquired red blotched-handled knife set on the coffee table at his knees.  Going into the kitchen he tossed them, block and all, into the trash can with, “And no away in the world do I even want to know the back story of these things are!”


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