"What's wrong, Mom?" teenager Terren Gray asked. "Is the traffic stressing you out? Relax, we don't have to be there for 20 minutes. We could switch places; I could drive for awhile, if you like."
Toddler Toni sang snatches of song from the backseat.
"No, it's not the traffic," Mrs. Gray replied through clenched teeth. "It's that shoe on the side of the road. Why is there always only ONE shoe on the sides of freeways? It is something that has bothered me since childhood! Oh, it frustrates me!"
"Don't look at it Mom. Don't let it stress you. You know what the doctor said about stress. Oh, look! We're moving again!"
Mrs. Gray hit the gas pedal, took a few calming breaths, and felt better. But the question still lingered:
Why only one shoe?
***There was a knock at the door. The shadowy figures, seated around a table, in a darkened room, exchanged glances with one another. One shadow rose and slid over to the door.
"Identify yourself," he said gruffly.
"It's Patrice, you oaf!" replied the voice form behind the door. "Let me in!"
The shadow allowed entrance, and enter Patrice did, soaking wet.
"Let's have some light, then!" she said. "Why's it so dark in here? And turn the fireplace on! I'm freezing!"
"No," said the gruff voice.
"Lewis!" snapped Patrice. "We may be meeting at your house, but we don't have to succumb to your blackout conditions!"
"That's what I said," muttered someone at the table.
"But we're a secret society," grumbled Lewis. "Secret societies on television always meet in darkness."
"Never mind the television, Lewis," said a new voice. "I, Dahlia Peters, as leader of this so-called 'secret society,' decree a compromise. A fire for Patrice, so she doesn't catch a cold, and so the rest of us can see-"
"That's not a compromise, Dahlia! I don't get anything out of it!" Lewis complained.
"I was just getting to your part," Dahlia replied. "We will have a fire, but we won't turn any lights on to please you. Satisfied?"
"I suppose," Lewis acquiesced. He turned on his gas fireplace.
"We've wasted enough time," said Dahlia, "let's get this meeting started."
Six people gathered around the fire and Dahlia pulled out a sheet of paper.
"Thomas," she said, "you take E street tonight. We haven't been there in awhile. Take a brown loafer. Lewis, you go to the main freeway and drop off a Sketcher's tennis shoe. Sorry Jayne, looks like you get Interstate 10 again. The good news is that you get to take one of those light-up kid's shoes."
"That's alright. Interstate 10 ain't that bad," Jayne, a small woman, said in a small voice.
Dahlia nodded. "Jacqueline, you go down Mainstreet and place a black flat in the gutter in front of the bank. And finally, Patrice, you go to 43rd Street with a pair of running shoes and hang them from a phone wire."
"Great!" Patrice exclaimed. "I love pairs! Especially when I get to hang them from telephone wires! People always wonder the most at those. 'How did they get up there? Why would someone do that?' Haha, they'll never guess!"
"Yes, yes, Patrice," Dahlia said, "I know pairs are your special skill. That's why you got this job. I'm going to Highway 12 with a red high heel. Let's go! These shoes won't get placed by themselves! Good luck."