George's mother hired twin sisters to babysit
him because she thought they looked cute. What she didn't know was that they tortured him
unmercifully, and that he fell in love with them. He was only six. Even later when they
wouldn't talk to him in grade school, he loved them. And after they went to college, he
continued to visit them in his fantasies, fantasies that years later he described in
detail to several well-recommended prostitutes and to the sixty-year-old Jewish lady, who
was his shrink. So you can imagine his excitement when he ran into the sisters at a
fashionable resort, and they invited him on their morning hike.
Still unmarried and quite beautiful, they walked ahead of
him through the silver leaves as he told them how he felt. With trembling fingers he
pulled the switches off the trees. With his face pressed into the dirt and the dappled
sunlight playing on his naked body, he waited for his dream to begin.
The beating was average. At first the girls giggled too
much, and then they were too heavy-handed, making it too painful. But what was really
humiliating was that afterwards they stole his wallet and his shoes. George never saw the
sisters again. He thought about them all the time, but that was a lot more pleasant than
seeing them in the flesh.
Susan did two things in life: she worked in a law firm and she went
to AA meetings. She was not particularly attractive, and her social life was dead. At
thirty-nine it was quite apparent that if anybody was going to be nice to her she had to
be the one to start, which is why she suddenly decided to buy the shoes she had been
staring at for a month in the store next to the bus stop. The store was owned by
immigrants, all of whom could barely speak English and none of whom she trusted or
understood. The man who insisted on waiting on her must have brought her eleven pairs of
shoes before he put the right ones on her feet. This shoe buying was turning into a
struggle that she was nevertheless determined to win. When he picked up her foot in both
hands and kissed the inside of her arch, she almost hit him; then when there was a mistake
in the bill she did in fact yell at him, even though the mistake was in her favor.
It simply did not cross her mind that he was trying to make
a pass at her, not until she was sitting on her bed looking at the shoes in her closet
door mirror. She practically did a back flip diving for the cover of her comforter. With
her face sandwiched between two pillows she allowed her mind to reconstruct first his face
and then his every movement. He looked like a skinny Omar Sharif, and his actions were so
charming that Susan became terribly shy and for the next month used the bus stop five
Two months later, Susan was so late for work that she went
to her regular bus stop hoping not to be recognized by the shoe store employees as the
argumentative American with the manners of a porcupine. As soon as she arrived, however,
Omar was out the door and onto the crosswalk where he wrestled down a taxi and dragged it
to her feet. Susan couldn't move. The other people waiting for the bus began to smile and
urge her to get into the cab. Finally the cabby said, 'Lady, unless you're going out of
state this guy's given me such a big tip that if you don't get in this cab I'm gonna put
you in it myself'
That morning, instead of being late for work, Susan was
early. She was also mortified, and vowed never to stand at that bus stop again. It wasn't
that he did anything wrong. All he did was smile and wave and act like someone in love. It
was her, she was the problem. This kind of attention made her want to cry She just wasn't
used to it.
The next time she saw him was in the spring. It was raining
and she had forgotten her umbrella. She saw him running down the street straight towards
her with one in his hand. When he reached her he didn't say anything, just stood behind
her holding the umbrella over her head. The bus came and everybody got on. When the bus
left he was still standing there and so was she, but the rain did seem to be letting up.
|© Mary Woronov 2004
This electronic version of "George" and "Shoe Store"
appears in The Barcelona Review with kind permission of the publisher. They appear in the
author´s collection Blind Love, Serpent's Tail, U.K., 2003. Book ordering
available through amazon.com; amazon.co.uk
This story may not be archived, reproduced or
distributed further without the author's express permission. Please see our conditions of use.
Mary Woronov is a writer as well
as a painter and a film director. She is the cult star of such films as Eating
Raoul, Rock 'n' Roll High School and Death Race 2000, and
is the author of two novels - Snake and Niagara - as well as Swimming
Underground, her account of her years in the Warhol Factory. She has
recently released a short story collection, Blind Love, from which
"George" and "Shoe Store" are taken. Her work is published by Serpent's Tail, U.K.
Woronov lives in Los Angeles.