Monday, April 2, 2012

I know They are There, I Can Hear Them

I spent this past weekend with some good friends of mine  in the holy city of Charleston. And, since we were not able to procure a hotel room I took my best friend's standing offer to use her "in town" place which just happens to be the basement of one the 300 year old historic homes just off the battery. And, when I say "basement" I only use that term to describe its location as the lowest floor in the house. I found it to be more well appointed than my personal residence. (Of course, that sets the bar pretty damn low given that my backyard now resembles a mine field and I often have to send a search party to locate my kitchen table (in the kitchen) when we get ready to eat, but I digress.)

Saturday morning I was up at day break, camera in hand ready to take advantage of the morning light and beauty of the city's southern charm (and lack of inconsiderate tourists who were still in bed or trying to locate the nearest  Waffle House.) The streets were dead quiet save a few chirping birds, the thud of the newspapers being delivered, and the occasional much too healthy jogger. Of course there were two or three intimidating unfriendly professional photographers about, who I was doing my best to avoid so as not to go through the motions of trying to look like I knew what I was doing.

As I walked down the uneven slate sidewalks, I could hear a slight "click, click". I thought I must have stepped on a rock so I stopped and rolled my left espadrille over, no pebble. And, there was none on the sole of the right one either.  These were my most comfortable shoes that I pulled out of the closet for the season. As I walked, they felt as if they were too big, they were not rubbing on my heels, so I wasn't worried about blisters. I continued on my way, snapping shots as I went. 

The weather was ideal, in the 70's, so an old pair of comfortable  khaki pants and long sleeve tee shirt was all I needed - nothing but me and my camera.
The "click" became a little louder and was now constant (and it wasn't my camera). OK, I thought to myself, there is a jogger coming up behind me at a steady pace. I moved to the side of the sidewalk and the next time I stopped to take a photograph, I looked behind me. There was no  one any where around me - no runners, joggers, walkers - just me. So I kept on and the sound continued and slowly got a little louder. 

Now, it sounded like a faint "clop, clop". "Oh, you idiot - the horse carriages", I thought to myself. The carriages must be out early. I was sure the carriage was a block or two away and the sound was certainly that of the horses' rubber shoes hitting the pavement. Now that that mystery was solved, I stopped to shoot another picture of a colorful flower box. I looked around and didn't see a carriage or a horse. It was probably just around the block. They were very slow making their way through the streets, with the drivers telling their tales to the gullible Yankees. 

As I walked on down the street, the sound got louder. It was now a distinct "clop, clop". Once more, I looked behind me, there was no one, no horse, no carriage, no rider. Now, I was beginning to question my sanity. The noise started again. Then I stopped . . . and it stopped. I just stood there. Then I looked down and picked up one of my shoes, as I did the thick rope sole dropped, and I saw that only an inch or two remained attached to the top part of the shoe. The same was true with the other shoe. They must have started coming undone when I left this morning (with the initial "click"). 

Hopefully, no one else was within earshot to hear me walking down the side walk making this terrible racket. I am sure the sight was something else, the shoes coming apart with every step. Worse yet, the thirty minutes of paranoia with me stopping and looking over my shoulder and tentatively starting again. 

So here I was a good 4 or 5 blocks away from where we were staying in the residential part of the historic district. I had no choice but to take my shoes off (with all barely attached parts), carry them, and continue on barefoot. Naturally, by this time residents were beginning to come out of their homes and stroll about. 

As I made my way back, I just smiled and said "Good morning" to every one I met as if life was normal. While inside I wanted to stop each one and explain why I was walking through the historic district sober barefooted and carrying a big camera and my shoes. If there was ever a time when inebriation would help the situation, this was it. This was no time for sobriety - it only made one look like a blithering idiot where as someone drunk would have been excused and spared any humiliation. 

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