ABSTRACT

Charlie muttered an oath. The simple knot in his shoelace was defeating him. He knew the knot was not very tight and could see exactly how to disentangle it. It was just that his right arm felt leaden, his hand a numb claw. Try as he might, and he had been trying to put on his second shoe for a couple of minutes, he was unable to pull apart the knot. On top of the frustration of being unable to accomplish a simple task that he'd mastered 60 years ago, Charlie was vexed by the choice that remained: either ask his wife for help when he'd assured her minutes ago that he needed none, or wear the ridiculous pair of loafers his daughter had bought for him at that ritzy fashion mall in Indianapolis. Growing up on the farm as a child, and then working on it until he was forced to sell just after his 66th birthday 2 years before, he had never owned a pair of these useless shoes. On the farm, he wore sturdy work boots, except when the ground was so rain-sodden that he had to put on a pair of rubber boots. He had always worn a respectable pair of black lace shoes to church. These had been his standard footwear since selling the farm. So Charlie had no use for loafers. Even the name irritated him.