The Urban Jungle
I woke up and saw my shoe was in the middle of the lawn. It was not a sight I had expected to see at seven thirty over a bowl of Crunchy Nut. I had left the shoe together with its partner by the front door, what it was doing divorced from its black leather companion was a mystery that needed to be answered at once. So I put down my spoon and went out into the garden in my bare feet. Upon closer inspection it was clear that the shoe had been partially eaten. Teeth marks had punctured the leather.
My brother briefly emerges hung over from his basement dwelling to gleefully inform me that he saw a fox eating my shoe so he sent the dog outside. The fox narrowly escaped death and my shoe had also been spared — a net gain for society — he went back to bed. Slightly irritated that he had left the shoe out on the grass I turned it over and reasoned that much of the damage was aesthetic although the tongue was missing. Who looks at a person’s shoes anyway?
The fox had got into the house because it was 24 celcius at night and the garden door was wide open. Even so this was not the first time the vulpine had attempted to satisfy its appetite for leather having previously eaten some boots and a pair of gloves. We needed to be more careful.
The fiasco with the shoe had delayed me and I needed to get to Paddington, on top of this it began to rain. All things considered I selected the Uber app and waited for the prius to pull up outside.
“How are you?” Inquired the man known to the app as Afshar. I shut the door behind me sealing myself in. “I am ok” I forced a reply. To which the grizzled man came out with “Have you ever lived a past life? I am a very spiritual person I have lived many lives”.
I considered for a second before replying, “I don’t know really…….have you ever had a fox eat your shoe?”
It was clear that this wrong response Afshar looked confused. I felt guilty so I said I had not but would he tell me about it? He sure did, said he had been a warrior in the Persian Empire. I knew he was very serious because he was also seemed to be a nationalist and therefore lacked a sense of humour by most measures. When he had finished telling me about his life as a warrior he started on a conspiracy theory involving Jews, standard stuff really but it took up the better part of the West Way. I put forward so little encouragement it was quite impressive. He talked about the superiority of the Iranian system all the way to Paddington which was about half an hour before sensing the journey was nearing an end and almost inquiring as an afterthought what I thought of all that I had heard.
I turned to him and said “You know Afshar, you don’t half talk a lot of rubbish but I can tell you this with all certainty, a fox eat my shoe this morning and he will come again to judge the leather and the suede”. This prompted the look of confusion to return to his face. I shut the door and did not look back.
On the way to Oxford rattling along the rails my colleague did indeed notice my fox-eaten shoe and I was forced to tell him about my unsettling morning. He was not surprised it’s weird what animals eat in the city. He said that he grew up catching eels with deep fried chicken legs down at Gravesend. I laughed and opened the briefing notes.