So, as I predicted,” the youngish stranger sitting at Andrew Jackson’s table at the café was saying as Andrew seated himself with his freshly brewed cup of coffee, “when we landed in Winnipeg one of my suitcases was confiscated by customs. Just like I figured it would be. I had two cases and they were crammed full of stuff and they only gave me one back.”
Andrew took a sip of his coffee.
“Andrew,” said Grant Toews who was already seated in his usual chair, “this here is George Garfield from up by Deloraine. Just back from a trip to Colorado.”
Andrew inclined his head in the stranger’s direction. “Nice to meetcha,” he said. “Don’t let me interrupt your story. What was in the bag that customs confiscated?”
“All of my shoes,” said young George. “I guess the customs agents have been listening to Mr. President and thinking it’s time to put a stop to the epidemic of shoe smuggling going on over the Canadian border. Trouble is I wasn’t smuggling those shoes. They were my actual shoes.” George heaved a resigned sigh. “Luckily,” he concluded, “their X-ray machine didn’t show any shoes in my other suitcase, so they let me keep that one.”
There was a moment of silence while Grant and Andrew pondered this.
“Still,” said Grant, “it’s gonna cost you some to replace all those shoes.”
George just shrugged. “Nah, not really,” he said. “I’ll just find people who have shoes they don’t wear anymore that are still pretty good and I’ll trade them.”
“Trade them for what?” asked Andrew.
“Weed,” said George. “That’s what my other suitcase was full of.”
There was a brief pause.
“These are strange times we live in,” said Grant.
“You do realize that marijuana is still illegal for a few more months, George,” said Andrew. “You should maybe be a bit more circumspect about who you blab to about your suitcases.”
“Are you gonna turn me in?” said George. “That would be a kick in the pants.”
“Maybe I will, maybe I won’t,” said Andrew. “Maybe if you buy me breakfast I can be persuaded to look the other way.”
“Oh boy, Andrew,” said Grant. “Now I got a dilemma. If George buys you breakfast to keep your mouth shut, and I’m a witness, then I will feel duty bound to turn you both in. George for possession and you as an accessory.”
Andrew furrowed his brow. “Let me think about that for a second,” he said. “What if… George also bought YOU breakfast?”
Grant considered that for a second. “I AM pretty hungry,” he acknowledged.
“You guys are trying to coerce a guy into buying you breakfast,” said George, “who doesn’t even have any shoes.”
“What are you even wearing on your feet then?” said Andrew, tilting his head to look under the table. “You can’t come in here barefoot, you know.”
“I’m wearing an old pair of flip-flops I found in my storage room,” said George.
“I hate wearing flip-flops,” said Grant. “You can’t wear socks with flip-flops. That’s why I stick to wearing sandals.”
“Same here,” said Andrew.
“Can I let you guys in on a secret?” said George. “Two secrets actually?”
“Sure,” said Andrew. “What good is a secret if you can’t tell it to people?”
“Right,” said George. “First thing is, wearing socks completely negates the purpose of sandals and also negates any possibility of you having a love life. Secondly, I have lots of shoes at home but I do not actually have a suitcase full of weed. I just made that story up to illustrate the absurdity of the times we live in.”
Andrew and Grant considered that for a moment.
“Seems like overkill,” said Grant eventually.
“Overkill?” said George.
“Yeah,” said Grant. “Why cook up a long story about confiscated shoes and suitcases full of weed to illustrate the absurdity of the times we live in, when you have already illustrated the absurdity of the times we live in by walking into a respectable café while wearing flip-flops when you have actual shoes you COULD be wearing instead.”
“You know,” said Andrew, “I always assumed the reason my love life slows down in summer is because my wife has so many more other things to do when it’s nice out. You really think it might be because of the socks with sandals thing?”
“You would have to ask your wife,” said George getting up to go.
Andrew and Grant watched the young man leave.
“What a weirdo,” said Grant.
“Insane,” said Andrew. “Thinks I’m gonna discuss my love life with my wife.”
“Bonkers,” said Grant.
There was a momentary pause as they sipped their coffee.
“Might take off the socks though,” said Andrew.
“Couldn’t hurt,” said Grant. “You never know ’til you try.”