The Short Humour Site

Home : Writers' Showcase : Submission Guidelines : A Man of a Few More Words : Links

A Man of a Few More Words - by Swan Morrison

Expo Riva Schuh

Inspector Limone sipped an aperol spritz and looked across the Piazza 3 Novembre to the entrance of the Hotel Sole. In the absence of a Hotel Upper in Riva del Garda, this was the accommodation of choice for delegates attending the International Shoe Fair, Expo Riva Schuh.

The Fair was always a potential flashpoint as highly strung footwear designers vied for fashion prominence. Last year, four exhibiters from Calabria, the toe of Italy, had been assassinated by a delegate from the region of Puglia, Italy’s heel. The perpetrator had used bootleg Grappa, laced with poison.

Limone had been assigned to ensure that, this year, all toed the line.

Reliable intelligence indicated that there were plans afoot for Luigi Slingbacci to eliminate his arch rival in the high heel eveningwear category, Giuseppe Pumpello. It was known that Luigi would take this step today, but not when or how.

Limone saw Giuseppe leave the hotel and wondered if his cane concealed a knife. The risks of the Fair were such that most participants employed some form of self protection. Luigi followed just a few yards behind, guarded by his young Rottweiler, Etto.

Limone rose and jogged hotfoot in pursuit across the Piazza Catena where he followed the men onto a ferry. The required turn of speed winded him, and he reflected on the need for a personal trainer, maybe even a pair.

Luigi sat down on the foredeck, directly behind Giuseppe. Although Limone recognised both men from photographs, he had never met either and so was able to take a seat unnoticed next to Luigi and his dog.

The Rottweiler growled at Limone. ‘Still, Etto. Heel!’ commanded Luigi in a strong regional brogue.

That brogue was a fine shoe, Limone noted to himself as Luigi put on the other.

A stiff breeze blew across Lake Garda, building waves that caused the Verona to toss and roll during the crossing, and even as the boat docked at Torbole.

Giuseppe and Luigi remained seated as other passengers disembarked. Suddenly, Limone noted a puff of dust kicked up from the deck in front of Luigi’s right shoe. He realised immediately that the brogue concealed a dart gun. This was a shoe-ting!

At that exact moment, the ferry pitched with the impact of another wave. The dart missed the back of Giuseppe’s leg, ricocheted from the iron boat side and struck Etto, who was at once a hushed puppy.

Limone lept to his feet, drew his gun and levelled it at Luigi. ‘Remove your shoes,’ he ordered.

‘It’s a shoe-jacking!’ shouted frightened witnesses, familiar with this phenomenon from the time of the last Expo Riva Schuh. Panicking passengers left their shoes and fled barefoot down the gangway onto the quay.

Before departing with his prisoner, Limone stood atop the gangway and quickly composed a farewell speech to the crowd on the quayside. He explained the true nature of his actions, police determination to defeat pedal criminality and the legal right of those present to reclaim their footwear.

Four days of the Fair remained. Limone knew there would be other incidents. Today, however, he was gratified that he had ‘snatched victory from the jaws of defeat’, and, when addressing the crowd, had also ‘hatched a valedictory from the laws of the feet’.