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Huey Meadows’ Flip-Flops by Brandon Ney

Huey Meadows wore flip-flops.

The only student in all of R.U.P. High with the gumption to stand for what he believed. It just so happened, Huey believed in a gentle breeze against his feet. He liked the wind to brush the hair at his toes. Yes, he enjoyed the freedom to flex his digits.

Huey was a Senior. Like most his age, he had a driver’s license, but Huey had little use for plastic rectangles and roaming metal boxes.

Huey was no square; he walked everywhere.

Five miles from home to school, Huey tread each morning. Middlemost in front of Lou’s Cafe sat Huey’s critics — old geezers. They were an assorted array of shapes and sizes, but each fossil fit nicely into two categories: retired and bitter. They’d yell at Huey — things like, “Lazy kids these days!” and, “When I was your age, we had shoes!”

As he passed, Huey would smile and wave.

Others in town took to calling Huey, “Jesus.” He didn’t like that much, but like Jesus, we all have a cross to bear; Huey did, too. The point is, Huey Meadows wore his flops everyday and everywhere, while some folks find it hard to stay regular.

Once, a couple years ago, Huey’s father tried to break him of his footwear creed. His dad said, “I’m not gonna ask again. No son of mine is gonna to wear flip-flops. Now, give ’em here.”

“No,” Huey said.

“What are you? Some kind of hippie? Is that what you want to be, boy? A smelly fire-breathing liberal?”

“I shower everyday, dad.” Huey stood an entire foot taller than his father.

“Don’t you talk back to me.” Huey’s father had to look up at him, before he unbuckled his belt. “I can’t believe this.” Huey’s father continued. “Sixteen years old and I still have to do this? Why you gotta make me do this, Huey? What’s wrong with you, son?”

Huey didn’t say anything. He just pulled his pants down to his ankles and bent over his bed, baring his bony-pale moon. While his father wailed on his tuchus, Huey looked back, forcing eye contact, which thoroughly unnerved his father. Huey didn’t cry or show pain. He just laughed, only promoting more lashings … but Huey didn’t mind. By the end of it all, due to his rage, Huey’s father forgot why the whole thing started. And Huey still had his flops.

A fact that Huey’s fellow schoolmate, Lindsey Weatherall, cherished. Secretly, Lindsey wanted to wear flip-flops, too. But a life lived only in classrooms taught Lindsey the hard lesson: desires are the water in which rules anneal. Every year, Lindsey’s parents proudly brandished a bland new pair of Mary Janes. And every morning, Lindsey sighed when she buckled those straps, preparing for a day of nice, clean conformity.

She had always admired Huey for his bravery afoot. In math class, she sat behind him, where she enjoyed the privilege of staring at the balls of his feet, plus the dirt caked there. She’d often dream about running her hands across his heels, fantasizing at how deliciously calloused they must be.

Sometimes she even found herself attracted to Huey’s long arms and blotchy skin. She marveled at the way his long curly hair formed the most unkempt afro, she imagined, in the history of afros.

Lindsey had even spoken to Huey once. He passed by her locker, and said, “Ouch!”

She turned and saw him, rubbing the top of his right foot. Terrified that his beautiful feet might be damaged, she said, “SuhErrreee okay?”

Huey, busy with his feet, didn’t look up, but said, “Oh yeah. It’s just those silly little aliens, trying to conquer my foot again.”

“Uhhhooooooo,” Lindsey said and watched him walk away. She thought he’d made a joke. So she laughed. Yet, Huey told the truth. And thankfully for Lindsey, he already exited the double doors and into the afternoon, where he couldn’t hear her giggling.

Meanwhile, the conquerers from Milonga had just planted their flag on Huey’s foot. One said to the other, “Great Tango, the explosives are in place.”

The green man called Tango stood tall and proud. “Thank you. Your efforts have not gone unnoticed, my young servant . . .” Tango placed his hand atop the servant’s bald-green scalp.

“Pista is my name, Great Tango.”

Tango yanked his hand back, but for Pista time seemed slow. His eye followed, mesmerized at the appendage silhouetted by the sun as it rose above and away from him; Tango’s hand had only two fingers, rather than the standard three. Pista remembered hearing many different tales of Tango’s Severance spread throughout Milonga, when he had only been a boy.

“Yes, Pista. I do know this.” Tango’s eye flared. “Rise young Pista. I want you to understand something.”

Pista stood and Tango placed his arm around Pista’s shoulder, as they stared over the climbing mesa. The landscape, with its cragged and pitted terrain, also shimmered in the sunset due to vast amounts of oil, bubbling up from beneath the surface. The land existed as a cross between swampland and desert.

“There’s an odd beauty here. Don’t you think, Pista?”

“Yes, my Great.”

“Do not be a fool! We do not live in a time for such things. Beauty is of no consequence to us. The great round beasts of this land have fallen and their resources are now ours. Milonga suffers no more. You understand?”

“Yes, my Great.”

“One day, young Pista, you may be as great a warrior as I. It’s true, I have won many battles … I’ve had many women. No doubt, you’ve heard.”

Pista nodded his head. Envy blanketed his eye.

Tango stared down at his fingerless nub. “Oh Pista … but glory isn’t without its mark.”

Many suns rose and fell in the great new land before Pista’s eyes. Just as many times as Lindsey buckled and unbuckled her boring Mary Janes. In fact, the same iteration of Huey’s wave to his fuddy-duddy audience, when during second period, Assistant Principal Deuchee decided he would try his hand at catching Huey the Hoodlum. In that era, Huey was an Office Aid and Lindsey had Study Hall.

FLIP. FLOP. FLIP. FLOP. FLIP. FLOP.

Sounds of Huey reverberated throughout the halls, as he ran errands for the school’s office. Lindsey rarely studied in these times, as the echo of Huey provided anticipation unbearable. She sat in her desk, eyes locked on the doorway, preparing for her glimpse of Huey.

FLIP. FLOP. FLIP. FLOP. FLIP. FLOP.

This day, Deuchee, a tiny man and enforcer of what Huey considered silly little school rules, had prepared a Sting Operation. Heuy was to deliver a note.

FLIP. FLOP. FLIP. FLOP. FLIPFLIPFLIP … Huey stopped. Contained within the doorframe, he stood in Lindsey’s gaze. What a pleasant gift, she thought, and her eyes inhaled all that was Huey, until she realized …

Several of her studymates crept towards the door: five big and well-fed football jocks, who wore Trainers!

In front of Huey, in the middle of the hallway, Deuchee stood with his stance wide. Ready for action, he held his pad full of slips, waiting for the draw, it seemed — seething, when the word steamed out of his teeny-weeny mouth, “DETENTION!”

Lindsey screamed, “No!”

But it was in that moment that the jocks landed upon Huey. Caught with such surprise, Huey barely managed to say, “Wha–”

Deuchee held up scissors. That’s when Huey realized what exactly it was Deuchee intended. He flailed his arms and legs, but his toes held tight to his flops.

Deuchee took great pleasure, savoring each moment, as he slowly ripped a flip and chopped a flop from Huey’s feet and between his toes. He said, “You can have them back at the end of the day. Don’t let me catch you wearing these dreadful thong sandals, again.” The jocks gathered together the pieces of Huey’s flops and handed them to Deuchee.

As Huey stood, Deuchee threw a detention slip onto him. From Lindsey’s vantage, the tiny piece of paper seemed to envelope Huey, as though a giant’s knee-high sock, carrying him inside, and twirled around … and around … and around …

Deuchee looked up from his pad and down at Huey’s feet. Bare. He said, “No shoes? That’s another detention.” And he threw a second slip in Huey’s direction.

In the interim, on Huey’s foot, Tango said, “The Great Plate has shifted, Pista. Do you know what this means?”

Pista had waited all his life for a moment. He believed that moments were worth their weight. Seconds, minutes, even hours had little value in the grand scheme of it all. But in moments, where decisions must be made and lives hang in the balance, those were measures worth living.

“Yes, my Great.”

“And you know what must be done?”

“Yes, my Great,” Pista stood. He rubbed the land’s oil between his three fingers and looked to the sky — only the sun had gone. The landscape no longer shimmered, but had become dull, an endless pale. “Great Tango, moments leave their mark, but glory prevails.”

“Thank you, young Pista.” Tango turned to face the ship. Hundreds of other little green men filed into its mass. He glanced back at Pista. “Leave no trace,” he said, and walked away.

Pista waited. A tear formed in his eye and he thought of Milonga and her rebirth, “The Great Land will remember my actions.” As he exalted on his knees and the ship ascended out of his vision, the moment was at hand. He grabbed the detonator —

Tears skied down Lindsey’s cheeks. Somehow, she sensed what came. She knew, nothing could be done, but look … Huey’s sad eyes fixed on her. For the first time, he really saw her. His stare bored into her’s, and she felt — snot dribbled out her nose and onto her mouth.

Lightly, the second detention slip impacted Huey’s skin and found rest in his palm. The mucus roped between Lindsey’s lips, as she mouthed, “I love you, Huey Meadows.” Deuchee clicked his heels together in satisfaction, while Pista pressed the button, and —

Huey exploded into dust.

Lindsey wiped the nose slime from her face with the back of her hand. Then, out of the corner of his eye, Deuchee saw something terrible — Lindsey Weatherall unbuckling her Mary Janes.

She slid out of the ghastly leather sandals, unrolled her sweat-drenched socks, and placed her bare feet onto the ground. She stood up from her chair and entered the hall.

Deuchee yelled, “Miss Weatherall, what exactly do you think you are doing?”

Lindsey ignored Deuchee. She danced in the hallway and specs of Huey caked to her feet. She gripped her toes on the floor; flexing, stretching them, and clumping together mounds of Huey. She swept her leg through to the air, cutting clouds of Huey, while he accumulated on her skin. She felt a breeze of Huey, as she ran down the hall and out of the school.

The next day, Lindsey Weatherall wore flip-flops.

———-

Huey Meadows’ Flip-Flops sparked in my imagination while walking through a movie theatre parking lot with my wife. She felt a bite on her foot and reached down to scratch it, but there were no signs of any suspect. She made some comment acknowledging that fact, and I quipped, “Maybe, it’s tiny green aliens, conquering your foot … You know, with a flag.” We laughed. She said, “You should write that story.” — I’m a devoted husband, who does what his wife tell hims … That time, at least.

Currently, Brandon Ney works as a Reader at FringeMagazine.org. He holds a BA in Rhetoric and Writing from the University of Texas at Austin. Occasionally, he blogs at http://www.weputwordsonpaper.com and http://www.brandonney.com. You can read his most recent published work, Double Parked (a young man ponders the implications when he finds an exact duplicate of his car parked next to his), on StanleytheWhale.com.

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