This article is taken from Stand 212, 14(4) December 2016 - February 2017.

James Reed A Guess at the Weather
Every twinge is a symptom, doctors all think. Nothing hurts on account of you’re tired.

Otis Dunbar begged to differ. Thirty years he’d worked on his feet. Why wouldn’t they ache? In dress shoes, too, always the finest. Glove leather linings, heels of blocked wood, toes tight as pencil stubs jammed in a box. Occupational hazard. Calluses and corns come and go like the weather. Doctors knew nothing in their shoes just for comfort and smocks now in colours for kids in a classroom, pastels and cloud shapes all friendly and cheerful. Don’t be afraid. Life is just dandy. Posters on the walls like propaganda for sunshine.

His feet he admitted weren’t looking their best. His toes and his heels were misshapen by traction. He pared them down with a pocketknife, back when he owned one. He’d lost it somehow and nowadays picked  with a finger or nail file, scraping a bit, knee like sawhorse bracing his ankle. Yoga for shut-ins, bent pretzel-shaped and catching his breath. He huffed and he puffed in his boxers or robe. Anymore, it was true, he never quite dressed. Not to be seen. Those days were gone.

That knife was a beauty. Clean and slender, opalescent, mother-of-pearl. His mom’s, evidently. Delicate, feminine, sized for a purse.  He called it elegant but knew it was sturdy. A tool, not an ornament. In a tray on her dresser when he cleared out her house. It was slim in his pocket and weighed next to nothing.
He still travelled light—a comb, ...
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