Under the sole of each size 12 shoe is a large egg-shaped hole. The lost layers grade inwards to a clean pared edge. Cross-legged, his proof of purchase on Sydney’s streets, footpaths, lanes and alleys shows itself. His polished uppers mislead; his heels are barely worn. He walks his odyssey as the crow flies. As in Chartres, there are no pilgrims without shoemakers. No festivals without students.
These Portuguese, pragmatically buffed boots I wear were bought almost two years ago, though I live in a softer place. They are in the style of Magritte’s cleft chestnut.
I ask about each cameo. One shoe is lined with a black leather coin purse, I guess with the zip removed, the other with a piece of cardboard from a pizza box. I ask if anything is written on it – no. He also recommends cardboard from microwave meals.
Ingenuity, creativity and make-do cannot be learnt though I would prefer the incorporation of a word. I did notice that the release/disappearance of his institutionalised/despondent magician was achieved wordlessly and in one rising shot.
I see him the following day, it is raining, the makeshift has shifted and his socks have similar cameos. The soles of his feet experience the osmosis of puddled bitumen, concrete and the cinema’s stepped swathe of garish carpet.
I offer him a pair of shoes I have bought for him. He disdains, will not accept their square-toed, corporate conformity. He prefers a point. I had thought it a pointed square. He does not budge. I give him two coin purses and quip, in case of emergency. One holds enough to buy a pair of shoes, or line one instep. The other is merely shoe leather.
I return the superfluous shoes without question, or the offer of enlightenment, with proof of purchase. There is no interest in why; only the exchange of filmy blue lucre.