Give Him a Foot and He Will Take a Mile

Carlos Delgado

“So, do you remember reading about the quiet side effect of catching that virus?” I said.

“No,” he said.

‘He’ was and still is my best friend. I share all sorts of stuff with him. Only, these days I do it in my head because talking out loud to a friend who is no longer alive gets you strange looks.

Just so we are clear, he was still alive when this conversation took place.

“Well, you’ll have to take my word for it then.” 

“Okay,” he said.

“No one has ever seen anything like it, but as usually happens, someone saw an opportunity to make some money.”

“I’m trying to hang in there, but you are losing me,” he said.

I do that when I get excited. I talk as though the person I’m talking to is privy to the rest of the conversation that went on silently inside my head.

My mate Keith is very tolerant. He knows I’ll get to the point — eventually.

“Sorry. I got ahead of myself.”

“How’s the view from out there?” said Keith. I smiled and took a breath.

“One big foot?” I said, and Keith smiled. He was catching up.

“Okay, so now I’m with you,” said Keith.

“Everyone was noticing the other after effects — the big ones, the damaged lungs, the higher risk of Parkinson’s. It took about six months for scientists to connect the dots. A small group of people, world wide, who had caught the virus, ended up with one foot significantly bigger than the other. Created all sorts of problems — those afflicted had to buy two different pairs of shoes just to get a matching pair that fitted.”

“I can see how that would be a problem,” said Keith.

I’d interrupted his lunch. He’d just got back from KFC, and he’d cracked open a can of Solo. He ate the same thing every day for lunch. I drove him to KFC once when he was too sick to drive. He gave terrible directions. He lived in an old inner-city suburb with strange intersections and one-way streets. He knew them all, of course, but I felt like a white mouse navigating a maze with an absent-minded navigator.

“A problem? Yes it was. But, as with all problems, someone comes up with a solution that makes them rich,” I said triumphantly. I sat there and let my wisdom sink in.

“And?” said Keith.

“Well this bloke in Tasmania came up with the idea. He was doing up his home and going through a shitload of expanding foam, when the idea hit him. It helped that he was an industrial chemist. Basically, he invented a foam that you sprayed on your ‘smaller’ foot and the stuff adhered to your foot in the shape of a shoe. A black shoe — had to be black, apparently. Couldn’t get it to work in brown. He even came up with a separate formula for a sock. Grey. Only worked in grey, apparently. Grey sock and black shoe. Really cheap too. Several shoes per can — same for the socks. Sold like chocolate to a chocoholic.”

“You’re pulling my leg, aren’t you?” said Keith.

“Hand on heart,” I said. “I watched a demonstration. It bloody works!”

“How do you get an invitation to a demonstration like that?” said Keith.

“A friend of a friend.”

“You have some strange friends, my friend,” said Keith.

“I guess,” I said.

We finished off the KFC, and he shared his Solo, and we talked some more until it started getting dark. It was a long journey for me to get back home, and now I was going to get stuck in peak hour traffic which would double my journey, but I didn’t care. Spending time with Keith was a panacea for all the things that ailed me.

We’d shared many adventures. I watched him fall in love. I rejoiced when he became a father. He watched my kids grow into men — and now, he’s gone.

Every time I drive past an ad for Solo or see a KFC, or trip over a bloke with a huge foot, I think of Keith.

Miss you mate. 

Love you.

Sleep well.

Anora

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Before Scarlett, there was Anora.

Not in the ‘girlfriend, boyfriend’ sense.

Anora looked after Sam’s wellbeing. She cleaned his house and cooked amazing meals.

Standing at about five foot three, she was slightly round with short wavy hair.

Sam had tried to help her son, Antonio. Tried, but not succeeded. He went to gaol but not for as long as he should have.

Anora showed her gratitude by becoming Sam’s housekeeper.

In those days three young men were living in Sam’s house in Preston. Anora cleaned for them, but she only cooked for Sam.

Three times a week, delicious smells assaulted Sam when he got home.

On this night it was penne with a Sicilian meat sauce, thick with Roma tomatoes, garlic, basil and oregano. Anora cooked as though there was likely to be another war. Her meals were meant to feed a small platoon.

Sam dished a portion into a bowl, heated it, before carefully moving it to the table that Anora had set before she left for the day.

Sam grated Romano cheese onto the dish, but not too much – mustn’t overwhelm the other flavours.

Moving the fork to his right hand — a habit he learned from his mentor, he lifted the first piece of pasta to his mouth. The aromas assailed his nostrils, giving his taste buds a preview of what was to come. Sam sighed and swallowed and repeated the process slowly until the plate was empty. A piece of crusty bread wiped the remainder of the sauce, and Sam sat in contemplative silence.

Red wine with a tomato-based pasta. The glass felt pleasant to the touch and the bite of the wine complimented the taste of the meal.

“Is it okay to speak to you now?” said Damien. Sam’s housemates knew that you never interrupt or speak to him when he is eating.

“If you must,” said Sam.

“Your crazy housekeeper lady left this for you. Said I was to give it to you, ‘personally in person’. I have to tell you she scares me, Sam. She caught me sniffing your meal, and she threatened to stick me with a fork.”

“She’d do it too. Don’t mess with Anora. Her name means ‘woman of honour’ in Latin. She believes that I helped her son, so her honour tells her to look after me. She won’t take any money for her work, so we play this little game where I put it directly into her bank account, and she pretends that she doesn’t notice. Be kind to her, she has some dangerous relatives.”

“Like I said, she scares me, and I work in finance with some of the most vicious motherfuckers on the planet,” said Damien. “Any chance I could have some of that. I’m starving, and I’ve been smelling the aroma all afternoon?”

“What if Anora found out?” I said with a smile.

“On second thoughts, I’ll have a toasted cheese sandwich. Forget I mentioned it.”

Everyone Loves Pasta.

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This story is now published as part of the anthology ‘Loyal and True’.

Everyone loves pasta.
So when the challenge went out, Javier Wafford knew what he had to do.
The newly minted millionaire Reyes Armillei had offered a prize of half a million dollars to the person who could develop a food that would feed large populations, would not take up a lot of space and be cheap and easy to manufacture.
Reyes had been sitting on the idea since he was in high school and now was the time to turn it into a small fortune and help the world all at the same time.
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The idea was simple as all great ideas are but there were a few bugs to iron out and that’s where his cousin Eric came in. Eric’s skill was turning great ideas into concrete objects.
The breakthrough came when Eric suggested blotting paper.
They embedded the blotting paper with uncooked pasta and dried it at a certain temperature which they would not disclose.
The precise temperature was necessary to make the sheets almost flat thereby making them easy to store and to transport.
Drop them into boiling salty water and the pasta grew and cooked all in the one process.
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It was delicious as well.
All of the entrants in the competition were amazing but pasta you could shove under a door was always going to win.
Javier Wafford gave some of the money to his cousin Eric and the rest he invested in a blotting paper factory.
He doubled his money in just over a year.