*

BLACK BOOTS

 

They were kinky boots: shiny black boots with stiletto heels: and she teetered into view from behind the corner of my road – and into my life.

 

There are some people you meet whom, once met, you know it will be difficult to unmeet.

 

I’m sure there are several people I once met whom I’ve entirely lost a place for in my mind. But I’d never forget Claudette … or her boots.

 

So, yes, that day, in an early late Spring when I thought Summer should be here but it was still March, I met the Claudette I’d never forget.

 

Seasons are never seasonal. They take you by surprise. It’s now late Summer, but looking at my watch I see it’s still only June. We lost an hour I recall a few months ago to British Summer Time, and will not regain it, because I’m sure to die before October. How do I know? Claudette has me prisoner. She with the kinky black boots.

 

I’m a prisoner of love – from which death alone will release me.

 

This diary – journal – paper blog – will only show what time will show. Unlike stories, the ending is impossible to guess. Whatever the ending is, rest assured it won’t be neat. I’ve not even pre-planned sufficiently to give myself enough paper to cover the ground of my future: so the shorter the better to squeeze between the available lines of my finite supply of white leaves. It’ll be Autumn before I can say Knife.

 

It’s tomorrow now – and I’ve read in the paper that’s already got print on it that there’s a war afoot. This time a serious war, where millions may die, instead of just the expendable few.

 

One army – reading between the lines – is a horde of Amazons in kinky black boots heel-clicking ever onwards across the cement plains. The other army – wrapped in Winter gear because they come from a land where it’s still very cold – sledge their way on sleighs and skis and come to a grinding halt as their transport systems meet the warmer climes of the cement plains.

 

The third army? Yes, this war, apparently, is between three forces, all fighting each other without convenient treaty between any two of them against the third. An all-out war between three parties. And the third party is constituted by ordinary folk like me, us, you: the cowed and mild empty-hearted hollow people of the Season Ever-Between. It’s never one or the other. It just is. We are just us. And we need to fight our corner with the bitterest steel we’ve never yet possessed.

 

We never needed to stiffen the sinews so much before. But when needs must. You must know.

 

Claudette is cadet-in-chief amid the kinky boot army. She is a reconnaissance scout. And she has me as hostage. Claudette tells me I have something of the Summer about me. I tell her she has something of the Night about her. She merely smiles. A smile I shall never forget.

 

She tells me that another reconnaissance scout from the kinky boot army has captured one of the Winter folk army and the two of them (Claudette and the other kinky boot reconnaissance scout) are in ‘text’ contact with each other. But this text is not on paper, I assume, as I’ve never seen Claudette with a pen. Only a Knife.

 

I love Claudette. The fetters of lust and adoration keep me safe with her, without the need of other restraints. In fact, she allows me out shopping round the corner. I’m often on an errand and like Hannibal she keeps asking for elephants. A joke, perhaps. But her smile has gone. A smile that once existed but which, in recent days, I cannot even imagine. She’s become crueller, colder, (dare I say?) darker. She even wears her black boots in bed. Sipping the Horlicks she had me buy today round the corner. She never, you see, touches the hard stuff. But there is a beer can or two for me in the fridge. She has a little bit of heart at least.

 

Being the forward party, these days, I listen for the change of weather, but I listen even more keenly for the clicking of the black-booted army as it draws nearer to our town across the cement plains. No fear of hearing the Winter army since they’ve ground to a halt along their own front line: a front line that nobody else even gives the dignity of calling a back line. They’re out of the reckoning, at least for a while. More of a washing line, if you ask me.

 

Tonight, Claudette deigns to talk to me. A time I shall never forget. At least I have paper enough for what she has to say. Maybe I’ll reduce the words – well, certainly reduce the words of what I myself had to say in response to her more important words.

 

“You must never forget,” she started saying, “that, to me, you are an enemy. I allow you to love me, as merely a sign that I am not completely cold-hearted.”

 

“Thanks, Claudette,” I mumble in response.

 

“Take for example the beams across the ceiling.”

 

I nod, looking up at the cobwebbed beams of sunlight that pick out darker, more substantial beams between.

 

“They are signs.” she continues, “that Summer is here and the Winter folk will leave their sleighs and skis behind and walk the rest of the way. They are your enemy as well as mine.”

 

Her mobile phone suddenly makes a garbled attempt at some popular classical music ringtone. Another text has arrived from her compatriot with the hostage from the Winter army. Claudette only needs to read it briefly.

 

“What’s it say?” I simply ask.

 

Claudette frowns. I shall never forget that frown. It made me freeze right to my heart. I’ve never known such a frown. It curves towards me like the knife she often wields, its blade bending under the force of her psychokinetic powers.

 

She makes a smiley face with the blade’s tip in the air, an emoticon I can recognise as it leaves a visible electric path behind. Her face can no longer smile, then.

 

But her Knife can.

 

I don’t know which to believe: the fabricated smile or the only too real frown. Apparently, I had questioned her. But I forget I’ve done this. So I’m confused at the mixed messages. Wars are never simple and wars are won or lost through various grey areas and, sometimes, with darker confused areas overlapping. Only lies will do when there’s war about.

 

“What’s it say, you dare to ask?” she shrills.

 

I nod, now recalling my foolhardy question. I cannot deny it. I was never a good liar at the best of times. Was I? Maybe you can remember better than me.

 

Apparently – and now Claudette decides to tell me the truth – her compatriot has allowed her (the compatriot’s) hostage to escape back to the Winter army. And to fix this strange unexpected aberration in the scheme of things, she would now need to allow me to escape back to my own people (to you and the others) but (as Claudette maintained) I had to escape by force. The thing had to be done right.

 

I glanced at the Knife. I had no stomach for fighting its tip’s wild firefly text messages of the gore and mutilation caused by my bid to escape. Would she put it away, at least to allow me some chance of escaping alive? Apparently, not.

 

I’ll never forget Claudette. I’ll never forget the day we supposedly first met. And the paper has very nearly run out. I shiver as the final Winter returns with the sound of at least a single sleigh-bell. Only the smile remains but thankfully no frown. A single pair of empty high-heeled black boots standing upright by the fire, with only each other’s kinky company to keep. They perhaps need a third boot to bring them back to life, even if life means kicking to death.

 

 

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