I’ve enjoyed writing for many years. I'm dedicating more time to the craft in my retirement days.
This really is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. My wife would tell you that it definitely could have happened exactly like this, but truthfully, any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or to actual events, is purely coincidental.
The Yellow Rainboot
It was a Monday morning, the third of June. I was out on the route I usually take on Mondays, cycling through the rolling hills along US Highway 195 southbound. In my peripheral vision, I caught a glimpse of something bright, a brilliant yellow, something clearly out of place on the side of the road in a green springtime field out here on the Palouse.
By the time the image registered as something out of the ordinary, I was a tenth of a mile or so down the road. After debating with myself over whether I should or not—and also traveling at least another tenth of a mile in the process—I finally looked over my left shoulder, waited for an oncoming car to pass, turned around and went back to investigate.
What I found there in the middle of the field alongside the highway was a single rubber boot—a child’s overshoe, perhaps?—with ‘Size 5’ stamped inside a small circle on the bottom of it.
Strange. How the hell did this get here?
When some of the more ominous possibilities creeped their way into my brain, I started looking around frantically. Though the field was a lush green, the growth was young, not very tall, and didn’t seem like it could have hidden something else from view; particularly if the something else had any bulk at all, or was of a hue even slightly different from the ever-present jade green that stretched for hundreds and thousands of acres all around me. My pulse slowed dramatically when I came to these comforting realizations.
I walked back and forth through the field for a few more minutes, anyway—50 yards this way, 50 yards that way—clutching the boot in one hand as I went. After what I reckoned was a reasonable time, I saw nothing that might look like a companion of any kind, was relieved and thankful for that. Satisfied with my diligence, I made my way back toward the highway, back to my bike which I’d left resting on its side in the ditch just off the shoulder.
As I walked along, I realized my steps were keeping time to a tune that had popped into my head—a song about Billy Joe, Choctaw Ridge, Tallahatchee bridge, moving to Tupelo.
I didn’t have time to ponder the why of that point before I reached my bike and realized I had a bit of a predicament: what to do with the boot? I wasn’t about to leave it behind, so I needed a way to transport it.
My lycra kit—the top, or ‘jersey’ part—had three pockets along the lower back of it, but I could barely fit my car keys and a nut butter-filled Clif Bar in one of those. I looked around for another solution, and finally hit upon something workable:
I was wearing reflector straps around my ankles. This was a safety feature I’d adopted many years ago to increase my visibility to vehicle-bound passersby. The straps secured with Velcro, so I figured they could provide a nice solution to my problem.
I rigged the two ankle reflectors around the boot straps, then secured the whole affair to the rails underneath my bike saddle. When I headed back toward town in this configuration, I could feel the boot moving rhythmically to and fro, to and fro as I pedaled along.
I’m not sure what I was thinking, but when I got back into town, I didn’t go directly home. Instead, I rode slowly, deliberately, tauntingly right down the middle of Main with that bright yellow boot swinging from my saddle. Back and forth, back and forth. As I crept along, I cut my eyes from side to side, and even if I couldn’t see them, I could feel all the store front eyes follow me down the lane as I went. When I reached the end of Main, turned off and headed up the hill for home, I grinned and laughed to myself. Great stuff.
When I reached the house, pulled into the driveway, my wife was working in the yard, and you know what? She didn’t do a double take, didn’t face palm, didn’t ask at all about the yellow boot hanging from my bike seat as I pulled up, came to a stop and dismounted. Instead, she silently walked over, unhooked the boot, returned to me the reflector straps, unceremoniously filled the boot with potting soil, and planted some purple petunias in it. I must say, the purple-yellow contrast made quite a striking presentation.
The yellow boot still sits prominently in our flag pole garden ring to this very day. Every year my wife puts pansies or petunias in it—whichever we can find first at the local nursery.
© 2021 greg cain