My Papa Was a Shoe Salesman by Lana Lubbe

Johnny ‘No-Questions’ Feretti enters the ristorante. It’s a sombre scene, the heavy curtains drawn and the establishment empty, except for one figure sitting in the far corner.

“Don Corlione,” Johnny says as he takes a seat opposite the old man. “How is your health?”

“Forger’ abour’it!” Don Corlione grunts.

“It is done,” Johnny continues.

“The shoes,” Don Corlione orders.

Johnny slides a pair of leather shoes across the table. The older man leans forward. He spits on his thumb and gently wipes at the black leather. Johnny tries to hide his perplexity. As if the old man had read his mind, the Don sits back, lighting up a cigar. He inhales deeply; smoke bellowing around him.

“My Papa always told me, you can tell a lot about a man from his shoes.”

Johnny looks into his watery eyes, swallowed whole by puffed-up eyelids.

“He used to tell me; work hard, son, so you can buy good shoes.”

The Don inhales.

“And if you buy the shoes, then keep them clean!”

The Don’s voice rises.

“But most important!”

A stray cough escapes.

“If someone steals your shoes, kill the son of a bitch!”


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