These Shoes

25 Mar

100 words for Friday Fictioneers based on the photo prompt below from David Stewart. (I once spent a long day sleeping and sick underneath just such a gazebo, listening to people walk above me unaware as I waited for a friend. I cannot imagine a lifetime of that.)

Gazebo:be nice

(Copyright David Stewart)


Officer Sloan cruises by the gazebo.

“You alright, Sam?”

I nod and smile.

Long ago a robbery suspect shot him. I called for help with his radio and kept pressure on the wound until I was tasered and arrested. Dash camera footage changed their minds and since then the police department has looked out for me. Like elephants, they have not forgotten.

Am I homeless? Guilty as charged. Hopeless? You tell me.

You’ll never know anyone’s story until you ask. Never know where you’ll find yourself until you’re there. Never know how it happened until it does.

Be nice.


These shoes



91 Responses to “These Shoes”

  1. rochellewisoff March 25, 2015 at 12:03 pm #

    Dear Doug,

    I’ve come by here every week since May 2012 to see how it’s done and, as usual, I’m not disappointed. There are too many layers and messages in this story to count. BTW, I have the perfect socks to go with those shoes.



    • AnElephantCant March 25, 2015 at 3:29 pm #

      Hey, no socks jokes here, m’lady!

    • dmmacilroy March 29, 2015 at 1:31 pm #

      Dear Rochelle,

      You are very sweet to comment so kindly on These Shoes. If you ever need some more socks, just call.



  2. ansumani March 25, 2015 at 12:19 pm #

    Everyone has a story to tell indeed. Nice one!

    • dmmacilroy March 29, 2015 at 1:32 pm #

      Dear Ansumani,

      Thank you for saying so.



  3. J Hardy Carroll March 25, 2015 at 12:56 pm #

    Good advice at the last there.

    • dmmacilroy March 29, 2015 at 1:33 pm #

      Dear Mr. Carroll,

      Thank you, Sir.



  4. elmowrites March 25, 2015 at 1:02 pm #

    Your taste of this life sounds intriguing, Doug, but then you always were a man of mystery. The story is right on the money; we are all too quick to judge until it’s our turn to be judged. Thank you for the salient reminder.

    • dmmacilroy March 29, 2015 at 1:35 pm #

      Dear Jennifer,

      And thank you for your salient comment. i so love to see your name in this section because I know I will get the straight dope on my story. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it is a gift of great price. Thank you.


      Doug (Man of Mystery)

  5. unwindthechaos March 25, 2015 at 2:42 pm #

    We definitely fall too often in that ‘judging a book by it’s cover’ thing. Great reminder.

    • dmmacilroy March 29, 2015 at 1:36 pm #

      Dear Chaosunwinder,

      Thanks for saying so.



  6. mjlstories March 25, 2015 at 3:29 pm #

    There but for the grace…
    A plea for kindness in an unkind world.
    Very eloquent.

    • dmmacilroy March 29, 2015 at 1:37 pm #

      Dear Ms. Lewis,

      I have been too close to this for comfort. I know what you mean. Thanks for the praise. i appreciate it.



  7. AnElephantCant March 25, 2015 at 3:31 pm #

    Interesting tale, Doug, well told.
    And interesting moral, well delivered.

    • dmmacilroy March 29, 2015 at 1:38 pm #

      Dear AEC,

      Thank you, sir.



  8. singleworkingmomswm March 25, 2015 at 4:13 pm #

    I love this, and I love the picture of the shoes. I’ve learned this lesson time and time again, but the most poignant of lessons came when I moved my daughter and myself into a one-bedroom apartment on a fairly dangerous side of town. I moved us there out of necessity-money wise-and because we had to leave the house we were in ASAP. Living there opened my eyes wider to the world and infused empathy into my soul that has never left. It was a scary period, but I’m grateful. Wonderful story, Doug! XOXO

    • dmmacilroy March 29, 2015 at 1:42 pm #

      Dear Kasey,

      It seems that you profited from your forced foray to the other side of the tracks. Well done. Perhaps a bit rubbed off on your daughter, too. This life is hard and it hangs by a thread. i have been far too close to losing it all and being there, in the lurch with no way out in sight, so I know what you mean when you speak of it.

      Thank you for commenting with such passion and intimacy. I appreciate you opening your book to that chapter so that I could see.



  9. bykimberlylynne March 25, 2015 at 4:59 pm #

    A mile in those shoes would be a long mile indeed. Well done, and thanks for the reminder.

    • dmmacilroy March 29, 2015 at 1:42 pm #

      Dear Kimberly,

      Thank you for dropping by to read and comment. i appreciate it.



  10. Suzanne Joshi March 25, 2015 at 6:33 pm #

    Good advice against jumping to conclusions. People are complicated in many ways, so nothing is as simple as it appears on the surface. That’s what makes life interesting. Well done as always, Doug.

    • dmmacilroy March 29, 2015 at 1:44 pm #

      Dear Suzanne,

      Thank you for visiting and sharing your thoughts. I don’t take them for granted. Mahalo.



  11. Claire Fuller March 25, 2015 at 9:03 pm #

    Great story with an important moral – which doesn’t at all get in the way of the wonderful writing. Well done, Doug.

    • dmmacilroy March 29, 2015 at 1:46 pm #

      Dear Claire,

      This one came from a place close at hand, so I was lucky in the way it found its way to the page. Thanks for reading and commenting, Claire. I appreciate it.



  12. Perry Block (@PerryBlock) March 25, 2015 at 9:08 pm #

    Terrific parable (at least I think it’s a parable) “You’ll never know anyone’s story until you ask . Never know where you’ll find yourself until you’re there … Be nice.”

    • dmmacilroy March 29, 2015 at 1:47 pm #

      Dear Perry,

      Thanks for visiting and commenting. I try (to be nice).



  13. Francesca Smith March 25, 2015 at 9:31 pm #

    I enjoy reading stories that have messages woven in between the lines.
    It is true, we are often quick to blindly judge rather than ask.

    • dmmacilroy March 29, 2015 at 1:58 pm #

      Dear Francesca,

      I know I have to fight the tendency. Years have added wisdom and help me to keep my feet from out of my mouth, but it is still hard.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.



  14. aliciajamtaas March 25, 2015 at 9:33 pm #

    Nicely done. The last two words Be Nice sums up so much of what goes wrong in our lives. Many should have those words tattooed in a prominent place. Alicia

    • dmmacilroy March 29, 2015 at 1:59 pm #

      Dear Alicia,

      So true. Thanks for reading and commenting.



  15. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) March 25, 2015 at 9:46 pm #

    I have to say you have to captured the beauty inside so well here. I am so glad that the police managed to change their mind.. there is hope for humanity.

    • dmmacilroy March 29, 2015 at 1:59 pm #

      Dear Bjorn,

      Hope springs eternal. Thanks for reading and commenting.



  16. lingeringvisions by Dawn March 26, 2015 at 2:22 am #


    • dmmacilroy March 29, 2015 at 2:00 pm #

      Dear Dawn,

      Thank you.



  17. March 26, 2015 at 2:36 am #

    You never really know anyone’s story and you my friend are a mystery. I loved this vignette. I’m watching whales in Maui and reading flash fiction. Life is good.

    • dmmacilroy March 29, 2015 at 2:02 pm #

      Dear Tracey,

      My story is a simple one that I hope to be able to keep repeating. It goes like this….”I survived.”

      I’m glad you have your priorities straight. Safe travels.



  18. Nan Falkner March 26, 2015 at 3:28 am #

    Dear Doug, Wonderful story and you are absolutely right. I’m glad I didn’t know the future when we got married. The kids were wonderful surprises and some of the stuff not so wonderful – but we made it to here! And still in love. Thanks! Nan

    • dmmacilroy March 29, 2015 at 2:03 pm #

      Dear Nan,

      If people knew what was in store for them, many would not want to make the trip. i’m glad you did and prospered.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.



  19. micklively March 26, 2015 at 7:52 am #

    Fickle justice: good piece.

  20. rgayer55 March 26, 2015 at 10:51 am #

    A local film maker did a nice documentary on a homeless man who used to be a sports writer for the newspaper. I remember reading his columns when he covered the Razorbacks. We should all be kind and generous to those who are “the least of His kingdom.” Like Rochelle, I like to come here to see how it’s done. You never disappoint.

    • dmmacilroy March 29, 2015 at 2:06 pm #

      Dear Russell,

      Do you remember the name of the film maker? You are kind and generous with your comments. Thank you. I’ll keep trying.



  21. draliman March 26, 2015 at 11:09 am #

    A powerful message at the end. I loved this story!

    • dmmacilroy March 29, 2015 at 2:06 pm #

      Dear Draliman,

      Thank you, sir.



  22. Margaret March 26, 2015 at 11:21 am #

    A touching glimpse into the world of this man. Great message.

    • gahlearner March 26, 2015 at 1:57 pm #

      What an interesting idea to make us walk in Sam’s shoes for a short glimpse into his life.

      • dmmacilroy March 29, 2015 at 2:09 pm #

        Dear Gahlearner,

        Thanks for saying so.



    • dmmacilroy March 29, 2015 at 2:08 pm #

      Dear Margaret,

      Thank you for saying so.



  23. storydivamg March 26, 2015 at 5:50 pm #

    It’s so easy to judge until you’ve walked a mile in those mismatched shoes.

    This is a well-told story, Doug, and it strikes a deep cord with me, especially this week. I began a four-week assignment with a former employer on Monday. It just so happens that the first time they employed me I landed the job a few short hours after a vocational rehabilitation counselor informed me I was “unemployable.” Six months later I was the top digital agent of over 700 workers. Six months after I was last laid off by this company, my wife and I lost our home. This week I have returned to work with a special task force–I am a small business owner, and my purpose in coming back is to earn the money to pay for a new business website. My how things change!

    Thanks for shedding light on a topic near my heart.

    All my best,

    • dmmacilroy March 29, 2015 at 2:11 pm #

      Dear Marie Gail,

      I have always had the feeling that you have a core of steel and heart of gold. it is heartwarming to me to know that you are on a mission and more than a master for it. I’m gratified to know that this story hit home for you and thankful that you took the time to comment so graciously.



  24. plaridel March 27, 2015 at 2:12 am #

    everybody has a story to tell. and this story of yours is well told. we’re looking forward to reading more.

    • dmmacilroy March 29, 2015 at 2:12 pm #

      Dear Plaridel,

      Most Wednesdays, like clockwork, unless the prompt kicks my ass. Thanks for dropping by.



  25. Dee March 27, 2015 at 8:57 am #

    Dear Doug

    You remind us yet again that we are too quick to judge, to slow to ask the right questions. I think someone has already mentioned ‘walk a mile in my shoes’ it is a saying we should never forget.

    Great story Doug

    Best wishes


    • dmmacilroy March 29, 2015 at 2:13 pm #

      Dear Dee,

      Too true. Thanks for reading and commenting.



  26. Taygibay March 27, 2015 at 4:28 pm #

    Very righteous story, Doug. It reminded me of why I want more cops on foot patrol mingling with those they serve instead of isolated in their cruisers hand SUVs.
    And of why I’ll never spare at the very least a respectful nod and smile to hobos.
    Well done, Tay.

    • dmmacilroy March 29, 2015 at 2:14 pm #

      Dear Tay,

      You’re a good man. I know the hobos see you and respect you in return.



  27. k rawson March 27, 2015 at 7:57 pm #

    A great story and excellent advice.

    • dmmacilroy March 29, 2015 at 2:15 pm #

      Dear Karen,

      Thank you for saying so.



  28. JKBradley March 27, 2015 at 8:29 pm #


    A story full of experience and wisdom. Well done.

    Is this a segment of the story you hinted to in your intro?


    • dmmacilroy March 29, 2015 at 2:16 pm #

      Dear JK,

      Thanks for your kind comment. The story is imaginary, the feelings are not. Different gazebo, another lifetime and only for a day. Never forgotten it, though. Thanks for dropping by.



  29. Jan Brown March 28, 2015 at 7:03 am #

    A poignant story, involving some very importiant issues. Each layer is peeled carefully until the reader reaches the core. Well done!

    • dmmacilroy March 29, 2015 at 2:17 pm #

      Dear Jan,

      I absolutely loved your story this week. Thanks for reading mine and sharing your thoughts.



  30. jwdwrites March 28, 2015 at 2:28 pm #

    Doug this was another gem from you and a great reminder of how we make snap judgements about people based on their appearance which got me thinking about a homeless person I met.

    Two weeks ago I went to London to attend the funeral of a homeless lady that lived in her car for 26 years after being evicted from her house. She would wander around Chiswick with plastic bags on her feet stuffed with pigeon feathers mumbling to herself and was often abusive to people she encountered, yet that was only one side of her and her funeral was attended by five hundred people. I wrote a piece about her around Christmas 2013 and I was astonished to see her story attract interest in over 150 different countries. Her obituary was published in a national newspaper and the funeral was covered by TV camera crews. An incredible and highly respected lady who lived her life with integrity and a quiet dignity despite her circumstances and appearance.
    Best wishes, James

    • dmmacilroy March 29, 2015 at 2:19 pm #

      Dear James,

      Thank you for your kind comment and for sharing the story of the homeless woman. Do you know her name. The story sounds familiar and I’d love to track it down. Let me know if you can remember any more details. Mahalo.



  31. Inside the Mind of Isadora March 29, 2015 at 8:02 am #

    A gentle reminder to never judge. We need to walk in someone else’s shoes. Then, we can know how they got to where they are. They say that a great many people are one pay check away from being homeless. Staggering statistics. Poignant.

    • dmmacilroy March 29, 2015 at 2:24 pm #

      Dear Isadora,

      Exactly five years ago I was one of those statistics. I had little and owed much and fortune favored me or I would be scribbling stories on cardboard and thanking Bog for where I lived. (It is hard to be homeless in Hawaii, but there is more food on trees and it is a tad warmer than on the mainland.) Now I have saved a few paychecks but I still judge how far I’ve come by figuring out how long I can live on the beach…

      Thank you for reading and commenting. i appreciate it.



      • Inside the Mind of Isadora April 1, 2015 at 3:28 am #

        When the money is lean, we learn to live with the basics and aren’t regretful about it. Surviving is a natural instinct but a diffeicult one to do. We have a great deal of military men who have come home with PTSD and live a wandering life here in Florida. The warmth of the sun is their only solice. How very sad …. !!!😂

  32. Cheryl McCullough March 29, 2015 at 11:29 am #

    Great advice and a beautiful message expertly woven into your story. The last line lingers in a lovely way!

    • dmmacilroy March 29, 2015 at 2:25 pm #

      Dear Cheryl,

      Thank you for crafting such a nice comment. I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts.



  33. AnnIsikArts March 29, 2015 at 12:38 pm #

    Fabulous. Standing ovation for this, Doug. Everything you write is true and written with great skill and poesy. I’ve stood on that brink where ‘everything’ could easily just collapse around me and I never go past a homeless person without remembering that were it not for fate, grace or accident, it could be me. 🙂

    • dmmacilroy March 29, 2015 at 2:27 pm #

      Dear Ann,

      I’ve stood on the brink, too, and shuddered backward from it. Trying real hard to stay away and help others when I can. Thanks for reading and for commenting with such generous praise. Your feedback fuels my engine and warms my heart. Thank you very much.



  34. milliethom March 29, 2015 at 1:56 pm #

    A very intriguing story, Doug, and so well written. To say it’s thought-provoking would be putting it mildly. You’re so right about not knowing anyone’s story until you ask. If only those shoes could talk … 🙂

    • dmmacilroy March 30, 2015 at 9:17 am #

      Dear Millie,

      You are kind with your comment and I thank you for it. Input from readers like you is precious and I appreciate it.



  35. Liz Young March 29, 2015 at 3:20 pm #

    Your story is the best one I’ve read this week. Strangely, one of the odd subjects on my writers’ forum this week is odd socks! Why? I hear you ask. Because it rhymes with clocks, of course 🙂

    • dmmacilroy March 30, 2015 at 9:19 am #

      Dear Liz,

      Thanks for saying that. I appreciate it. Socks, clocks, your writing group sounds like fun.



  36. Alice Audrey March 29, 2015 at 4:09 pm #

    Yep, you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. Around here they say don’t judge the man standing in a field by the dirt on his clothes. They will occasionally turn out to be millionaires.

    • dmmacilroy March 30, 2015 at 9:21 am #

      Dear Alice,

      Same here in Hawaii. The guy in flip-flops standing next to you in the grocery line could own acres of beachfront property. Experience comes at a high price. Nowadays I just try to be nice. Thanks for reading and commenting.



  37. Shivangi March 29, 2015 at 6:51 pm #

    I read and read again and asked my husband to read it to me aloud…until I got the message and the layers…do not judge…be nice…you never know what the other person’s life has been all about….great read.

    • dmmacilroy March 30, 2015 at 9:23 am #

      Dear Shivangi,

      I appreciate you taking the time to find the meaning in my story and for commenting so kindly about it. Thank you very much for doing so. I’m looking forward to reading more of your work.



  38. Joanna K Neilson March 29, 2015 at 7:26 pm #

    Nice illustration of where doing the right thing is its own reward, at least til the footage sorted it out. Elegantly done, liked this very much.

    • dmmacilroy March 30, 2015 at 9:25 am #

      Dear Joanna,

      Thanks for such kind praise. Feedback from a writer like you is priceless and I appreciate it very much.



  39. Sonya March 29, 2015 at 10:30 pm #

    Yes, be nice – why do people still have to be reminded to be kind to each other? The world needs more stories like yours!

    • dmmacilroy March 30, 2015 at 9:25 am #

      Dear Sonya,

      People are not long on brains and common sense isn’t common. Thanks for reading and commenting.



  40. Sarah Potter Writes March 30, 2015 at 10:47 am #

    Dear Doug

    This is a very touching story. Loved the shoe photograph, too.

    Having been too near to poverty and homelessness at one stage in my 20s, it rings so true. There is too many people in this world of superficial character, who make the most appalling judgements about people based on their appearances. Brings to mind two sayings, “Don’t judge a book by its cover” and “But by the grace of God go I”.

    I’m all for plenty of what we call in the UK “bobbies on the beat”. It was a delight recently, to meet some of our local police at a Neighbourhood Watch get-together. Such a rare occurrence these days.

    All best wishes

  41. MissTiffany March 30, 2015 at 10:58 pm #

    Wonderful story! I am blown away. The photograph was the perfect touch.

  42. Emily Livingstone March 30, 2015 at 11:44 pm #

    Interesting take! I like the way you handled the prompt by thinking of not who’s in the gazebo, but who might be nearby. A lot to think about.

  43. Snow's Fissures and Fractures March 31, 2015 at 3:24 am #

    Oh, how quickly we judge. When I was 10, my mom and I managed to live one year without electricity. Although, it was hard to explain candle wax marks on my homework to my friends, I think it was one of the most valuable lessons of my life. I dreamed, I yearned and I learned to look at life from both sides. Thank you for this heartfelt story, it touched me profoundly.

  44. subroto March 31, 2015 at 6:34 am #

    The old saying does go never judge someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. I loved how you have woven it in with the accompanying photograph and put your stamp on it.

  45. siobhanmcnamara April 1, 2015 at 12:49 am #

    It is all too easy to judge. Your story is a strong reminder gently delivered

  46. wildbilbo April 1, 2015 at 5:37 am #

    Took me a while to get here, but was well worth it. Strong moral coming thought in this story, although… perhaps a little heavy handed in the penultimate paragraph? I thought the first part walked me to the river and I was already drinking, and then you handed me a full glass on top of that.

    I don’t know if I’m saying this correctly… anyway, I liked it 🙂

    • dmmacilroy April 1, 2015 at 5:59 am #

      Dear KT,

      You’re coming through fine, my friend and I appreciate the feedback, as always. As one of my favorite memes says, “Some people just need a high five…in the face…with a chair.” But seriously, I didn’t plan it to sound the way you interpreted it. I was just looking for a voice that sounded true to itself.

      Thanks for reading and commenting. Good discussion and shared thoughts are the life blood of the kind of discourse Friday Fictioneers should foster. More please. (I’ll go easier on you with tonight’s story….Or try.)



  47. David Stewart April 5, 2015 at 1:37 am #

    I am hopelessly late in my reading for this one, but I got here eventually. As Rochelle said, there are so many different levels here: the story of Sam and the police and the larger message. You must use quantum physics to fit it all into 100 words. 🙂 If only the whole world followed your two word epilogue. There’s a lot of imperative there.
    Take care,

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