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One Shoe

by DerekH 

Posted: 18 September 2004
Word Count: 740
Summary: An idea I've been wrestling with...revised too many times now. Any comments and criticisms very welcome.

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One Shoe

Si said this was where the Ripper lived. We were on a mission, he pushed me in first. The broken door swung shut behind us, sending an echo through the place, and a cloud of dust into the torchlight. Si slapped the back of my head, and the glittering beam darted from the peeling wall paper, to another door; hanging off its hinges, wood split, and once white paint now spattered with shitty brown.

“Go on then you poof…go in that room,” Si didn’t like to hang around.

I would have argued, told him to go first, but I had the torch so I had to go first, that’s the rule. Isn’t it?

This must have been the living room; orange foam erupted from an old settee. The windows were heavily boarded. There wasn’t much to see; a pile of empty beer cans, one old shoe, not much else.

“Who leaves one shoe?” I asked.

Si took the opportunity to show off, “Shit shoe anyway,” he gave it a slow kick, just so I could see his brand new Adidas.

He shouted his next order. “This is crap, try up stairs,” and waited for me to go first again. I did my best Igore. “Yeth Mathster!” and got another slap on the way past him. The stairs felt like the ones in the fun house, without the fun. Si pulled the airgun out of his belt and held it by his face, pointed at the ceiling, like he was in The Professionals.

“Did you bring yours?”

I pulled it out of my pocket and waved it back at him. He wasn’t impressed.

“That’s a shit gun.”

It was a shit gun, a Gat gun actually, one step up from a spud gun; on loan from the bottom of my Dad’s sock drawer. We stopped on the landing and scanned with the torch. The bathroom with the smashed toilet bowl smelled like the Chamber of Horrors at Madame Tussauds; but luckily we needed to be at the front of the house. The front bedroom door was to the left and already wide open. Like the living room, there wasn’t much in there; an empty wardrobe, a stained and stinking mattress, a crusty old magazine, more cans. A weak stream of yellow light slipped through the broken window board, projecting our faint shadows onto the paisley wall.

“Perfect,” Said Si, gun held up to his right shoulder. He looked sideways down at the street. “Right here’s the plan… the Ripper always comes in at half seven, you take this position, and watch for him coming back. If he sees you…shoot him!”

I replied as ‘Doyle’, “OK Bodie.”

Si rolled his eyes, and continued, “If he doesn’t see you, we wait until he gets up here, and I’ll blow his brains out.”

I checked my Spaceman watch, 7.28, nearly 29. I looked out again. An old man walked under the street-lamp, stopped, and looked around.

“Target sighted,” I hissed at Si.

“Has he seen you?”

“No…shit yeah I think so!”

“Shoot him.”

I pointed the gun and did the sound effect, “Peow! Suspect is down, Bodie.”

“It’s not a game you spac…SHOOT HIM.” This was Si’s no messing voice.

“Si, I don’t wanna play anymore, he’s just an old bloke, let’s leg it.”

“Duh… all them graves with RIP on ‘em aren’t there for nothing.”

“Si, we asked the Vicar, he said it means rest in peace, not Ripper.”

“Well he’s in on it ‘n’ all, he’s building a Frankenstein from the bits…shoot him dick ’ed!”

“Can’t, he’s gone.”

“Shit, he must be in the house…hide, quick!”

That was enough for me. I switched off the torch, belted over to the wardrobe, got in, shut the door, and waited. Nothing happened, no noise. Where was Si? I strained my ears for a sound; nothing… Creaking floorboards, maybe…Then nothing, nothing at all…I listened harder, eyes screwed shut, hands over my mouth and nose…Something hit the wardrobe hard. Next, the sound of feet fast and heavy on the stairs, followed by the slam of the front door. I waited, shaking.

I pointed the torch at the spaceman. The spaceman said 7.45. Still no noise.

“Si…” No answer.

“Si…” No answer.

“Dick ‘ed,” whispered under my breath, just in case.

I edged out of the wardrobe, and followed the beam. Something flashed back from the stained carpet. One shoe, three luminous blue stripes.

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Comments by other Members

Dee at 14:05 on 19 September 2004  Report this post
Derek, I have’t commented on any of your work yet because I don’t know anything about children’s/young adult fiction. But once I’d started reading this I had to keep going.

This is a stylish piece of writing with a wonderful twist at the end. The only confusion for me is I’m still wondering if the guns were real. Surely not? What kind of parent keeps a real gun in his sock drawer? Or am I missing something?

It’s a great story with some excellent description. I was right there in that grotty house.


DerekH at 14:30 on 19 September 2004  Report this post
Thanks Dee, I was really unsure about this one (still am), so I'm glad you enjoyed it. The guns are air-guns (pellet guns), the Gat gun I described is a an old fashioned, and particularly rubbish, air-pistol. I'll read through and see if I can add something to make that clearer.



Dee at 15:41 on 19 September 2004  Report this post
Can you still get them? In my wayward youth a few of us had air-rifles. One of my friends managed to part his own hair once, trying to be cool, casually firing at a tree. The pellet rebounded straight back at him. Scared the shit out of us…

As I said, I don’t know anything about YA fiction but this reads to me like the germ of a much longer story. There are so many hints and possibilities in it.

Maybe you’re struggling with it because you’re trying to keep it too short?


Dee at 16:09 on 19 September 2004  Report this post
Don't worry - I won't!


SamMorris at 19:12 on 20 September 2004  Report this post
Hi Derek,

I too really enjoyed this story. I thought the characterisations good, both read as real, but distinct characters. The ending had a nice twist. You knew something had to happen, and when it did it was no too obvious.

One thing I would say is that perhaps you could crank up the tension just a little by some more speculation on the ripper character. Maybe not much, but something to make you wonder, are these just childish imaginations at work, or is something really sinister going on here. That's just a thought, whatever, I still enjoyed this story.

All the best


DerekH at 19:39 on 20 September 2004  Report this post
Cheers Sam, I'll give a lot of thought to your suggestion. I'm really glad you liked the story.

Thanks for the feedback


Dee at 06:21 on 02 October 2004  Report this post
Derek, this is just as good, if not better, on the second read.

I’ve got a few very minor picky points:

and got another slap on the way passed him

I replied as ‘Doyle’,
This is exposition but I’m damned if I can think of a way to re-word it. Personally, I’m always wary of this sort of reference if you feel the need to explain it. As a writing exercise, there’s no problem but in something intended for publication you have to be confident that future readers will understand the reference. I know who Bodie and Doyle are – but they’re not exactly ‘Homes and Watson’, are they… just something for you to ponder.

I pointed the gun and did the sound effect “Peow!”
“Suspect is down Bodie.”

Strictly speaking, this is one continuous dialogue line unless you write in a beat between ‘Peow’ and ‘Suspect’. Or you could try it as:
I pointed the gun and did the sound effect,
“Peow! Suspect is down, Bodie.”

In either case, you need a comma after ‘down’.

Otherwise I think it’s ready for the book.


DerekH at 11:15 on 02 October 2004  Report this post
Thanks Dee, I don't know how I managed to get the "Peow!" and "Suspect..." on seperate lines. Thanks for pointing it out.

As for the Professionals, I knew this was a problem when I wrote it...and I considered using Starsky and Hutch, but either way could be the same problem. I guess most, UK thiry-something+, people will know who I'm talking about . I'll wait a little while and see if Ben has a problem (since he's about ten years younger than me), it would also be good to see what Adam makes of it since he's American. If it's going to confuse many readers, then I'll just have to change it.

I have to say, I was unsure about this one for the book, still am a little.

Once again thanks for your help.


bjlangley at 12:56 on 05 October 2004  Report this post
Hi Derek, this is one of those stories that draws you in - much like the house itself, I guess.

I thought the double-twist was clever, with The Ripper coming from Rest In Peace, and again with the very end when he really is trouble. The last line is fantastic as it tells us all we need to know without coming right out and saying it. Nice and subtle.

Shouldn't 'puff' be 'poof'?

I would have put a full-stop in before "that's the rule, isn't it?"

I love the "who leaves one shoe?" question, even more after knowing the ending.

The dialogue "This is crap..." should be "this is crap..."

I wasn't sure on the spelling of Egore. I was reading something on Frankenstein this morning where it was Ygor, but I've seen Igor too. I thought 'The Professionals' at the end of that paragraph should be in quotes, but I'm not sure.

I didn't think that 'toilet bowl smelled like fun, honest' really worked, I'd like to know what it really smelled like (actually, I can guess.)

'said' after "Perfect,"

Does streetlamp need hyphening? I'm not sure.

I don't often use them, but I thought you could use an exclamation mark in "It's not a game you spac...shoot him!"

As for The Professional's ref, the names Bodie and Doyle are familiar to me, but I wouldn't have been able to place them in 'The Professionals' without having that in the story also. I think that enough people will get it to leave it in, after all, there are so many of these 'classic' TV channels that repeat older stuff, that people will know it.

All the best


ShayBoston at 22:13 on 08 October 2004  Report this post
Hi Derek,

This is a good story, nicely paced with a good build up of suspense. Like the ending too.

I was thrown by the formatting of the dialogue. I felt as though you were trying to be over-efficient at times or perhaps conscience of using 'he said', 'I added', etc. To be very picky there were several sentences that had commas where I felt there should have been full stops (but I may be wrong). Such as 'go in that room,'
'Si took the opportunity to show off'
'Shit shoe anyway'
'This is crap try upstairs'
I would reword 'out of his belt and held it by his face, pointed at the ceiling' to 'out of his belt, held it by his face and pointed at the ceiling'.
'nearly 29' - I thought was superfluous.

I think you should be happy to have this in the collection, but the above is just a bit of edit / polish (if you agree).


DerekH at 22:39 on 08 October 2004  Report this post
Cheers Shay. Yep I will look at doing the extra polish. Just to clarify - the line with "pointed at the ceiling" - I mean he holds the gun angled upwards towards the ceiling, rather than Si Pointed at the ceiling. Did that come across?

It'll get there in the end ;).

One thing though (which is relevant to the collection as a whole). It may seem as small thing, and I might be totally wrong to even consider it, but I call the Gat gun "shit". If Gat is a trademark kinda name, then do you think there's a possibility it could get us into trouble? Or am I being dramatic?

Thanks for reading, and for the comments.


ShayBoston at 23:05 on 08 October 2004  Report this post

Your characters call it shit. We can't be held responsible for the opinions of our characters. They are their own people.

Without meaning to be pedantic it could read that his face is pointed at the ceiling, rather than the gun.


DerekH at 23:52 on 08 October 2004  Report this post
Holy Moley!;)... I dunno what's pointed at the ceiling anymore. I'll fix it up Shay. Cheers for that.

Thanks Shay,


PeterOC at 23:38 on 09 October 2004  Report this post

Nicely done. Fair brought me back so it did. Do kids still get up to stuff like this?

Anyway I like the way you've described the house in all it crubling horribleness. The relationship between the boys is pretty believeable as well. You get the sense that they are brothers but I don't think you mentioned this anywhere. There's a good build up but I thought you could have dragged out the suspense a little bit more by maybe, after they lose sight of him having them listening to try and work out where the old guy was in the house or something like that, just to eek it out a bit longer.

Nice ending as well. I'm always spotting random shoes lying about in unusual places and wonder where they came from.

Couple of possible typos for you ( I'm not sure if these have been mentioned above.)

"The broken door swung shut behind us, sending an echo through the place" - Don't think you need the comma here.

"“Go on then you poof…go in that room,” Si didn’t like to hang around." Think this should be a full-stop after room.



DerekH at 11:40 on 10 October 2004  Report this post
Hi Pete, thanks for the kind comments and helpful crit. You've actually raised a couple of points that I've been thinking about.

The comma, in the line that doesn't need one, is not needed to make the sentence correct, but does make the sentence read differently. I know commas are no longer popular as a way to inject a slight pause but I'm quite new to this and couldn't think of another way. Is that wrong?

One more thing that I think has thrown several people. I didn't intend this story to state for definite that the old man was a killer, or even in the house. The only suggestion that he is, comes from Si. I left it open...for the reader to decide. Does that come across at all?

Cheers for reading,


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