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"Do you or don't you? What's it going to be, Babe?" My arms felt like rubber. My collarbone was aching.  It isn't easy keeping a fifty-pound sledgehammer perched upon your shoulder. "I haven't got all night."

"Will it hurt?" Serafina asked innocently.

"It's just a sledgehammer. And you'll have a soft towel beneath your feet."

"Will that cushion the blow?"

"Can a flea halt a charging rhino? The towel is to keep your blood from getting all over the Ottoman."

Serafina whined, "I just want to try on the shoes. Can't I do that without getting my feet modified?"

"No way, Sister! You're not cramming those humongous size sevens into my precious Reynaldo Grimaldi's."

Tears streamed down Serafina's rosy cheeks. With her hands tied behind her back there was little she could do staunch the flow. "I want those shoes!" she blurted out.

Gingerly, I dropped my heavy hammer down on the wooden floor. Yet, I still managed to shatter two of the flooring planks. "Crap! I promised my victims I would care for this house as if it were my own." I pulled up a seat next to Serafina, and in a comforting gesture, put my long arm around her soft, constricted, shoulders.

"It's a Grimaldi, Sweetie. How often does God decide to descend from the heavens, take on human form and become a fashion shoe designer?"

Serafina shrugged.

"That's right, Deary, not often. Once to design the exquisite, glorious Roman sandal and also to clear up some prickly issues in the Levant, and then this last time when he came down in the form of the master Neapolitan shoe artist just a few short decades ago. That's it! When you put on a pair of Heartfires you're not just going out for a night on the town, you are blessing everyone who sets eyes on that shoe with a transcendent, life-altering experience. The Heartfire is the only shoe that can redeem people's souls."

Serafina sniffled. The tears that had cascaded down her cheeks were now dribbling down her slender throat. "Alexis, I'm worried about how my feet will look after you've rearranged them."

I looked down at her floppy, clown-like, size sevens. "Let me put your fears to rest, Serafina. For I am a master artist in the medium of foot-shaping. If some of my greatest works were not hanging at the end of some very fortunate ankles, they'd be hanging in such illustrious places as the Louvre, the Met, the Getty or the Uffizi. I've received so much fan mail from happy customers I had to cancel all of my email accounts and delist my name from several services. I hardly go near a computer anymore."

"Really?"

"May God shatter all of my bones if I'm lying." I emphasized my point by crossing myself three times.

"Er, that's not exactly an oath of believable conviction, Alexis."

"Ugh!" I couldn't help but let out a heavy sigh of despair. I was losing her. You just wouldn't believe how difficult it can be talking a girl into smashing all the bones in both her feet with a sledgehammer. Even with the offer to wear the world's most resplendent foot apparel, it was still a difficult sale.

I picked up the shiny, scarlet Heartfire and held it in the palms of both my hands--just inches away from Serafina's slightly bruised face. The shoe glowed with a warm, supernatural light as if possessed of a soul. The light cast a passion play of shadows on the peeling painted wall behind us, and our silhouettes acted out a heartwarming romantic tragedy.

"The Heartfire is no ordinary shoe," I began. "It has changed the course of history. It has endowed its wearer with special powers."

"Special powers?"

"Yes, special powers. One of the first owners of the Heartfire was a shy, young woman named Louise Ciccone. Now, Louise was a down-on-her-luck nobody, struggling in her singing career in lower Manhattan. But one day, she accidently took home the Heartfires after attending a no-shoes-allowed, fashion party in Tribeca. You see, the shoes were all laid out in the foyer. The former owner was peeved to say the least. The next day, Louise was discovered by a successful record producer, obviously bowled over by her extraordinary shoes. Well, you know the rest of the story. Ms. Material Girl..."

Serafina gasped. "You mean these shoes once belonged to Madonna?"

"Practically, a piddling nobody," I continued. "One day, after recording many successful albums and a few that will go unmentioned; she was rehearsing a dance number with her back-up singers, when she carelessly let her eyes off of the Heartfires. A sneaky Mezzo-soprano wasted no time and purloined the apparel before running off to L.A. Madonna hardly knew what hit her. And, do you know who that dastardly back-up singer was?"

"Tell me it isn't…"

"Yes, Beyoncé Knowles. That back-up band was called Destiny's Child and once the great enlightened one was in possession of the Heartfires, she ditched those sappy losers and charted a solo career destined for the stars. She went on to become an unparalleled singer and dancer, as well as a mediocre actress, but you can only ask a shoe to do so much."

"I love Beyoncé's shoes."

"But the story doesn't end there. In the middle of her last tour, the private jet that carries all of Beyoncé's clothing, jewelry, and most importantly her shoes, hit some bad turbulence flying through a tropical storm and went down in a catastrophic ball of flames. The crew and all of Beyoncé's highly-paid security personnel perished in the vicinity of the island of Barbados. Beyoncé was certain the precious Heartfires were lost, but days later the miraculous shoes showed up on the unflattering feet of an uninviting teenage girl vacationing at the time on the nearby island of Martinique.  Serafina, that awkward teen with the two left feet was named Stefani Germanotta. But you might better know her as…"

"Oh my God—Lady Gaga! Those shoes rubbed bunions with Lady Gaga?"

"Absolutely," I said. "And we both know what became of her. Which means the question you have to ask yourself, Serafina, is—do I want to be the next single-name, singing and dancing phenomenon?"

"Yes!" The words leapt from her lips.

"Excellent. Then we both agree it just ain't going to happen with those Sideshow Bobs that you call feet. So, let's get you started down the path toward fame, riches and premature rehab. What do you say?"

Serafina gritted her teeth. "Will there by anesthesia?"  

I was ready to whack her across the head if it wouldn't have spoiled my chances of slamming her feet with a sledgehammer. I patiently gathered myself. "I'm sorry you have forced me to resort to such drastic actions." I took the Heartfire by the heel and clutched the back of Serafina's head by grabbing a handful of her soft, luxurious, brown hair. I forced her nose into the opening of the shoe and made certain she got a good, long whiff of starlet stench.

She tried to escape my grip and gasp for clean air. But I held firm. Her eyes rolled upward and she wheezed and coughed.

"Can you smell that?" I said forcefully. "That's Madonna's feet. She rarely bathes them. Sniff fully. That's a good girl. Those are Beyoncé's toes. She never scrubbed between them and she had notoriously bad toe-jam. Breathe in. Breathe out. Do you know what that odor is? That's Lady Gaga's feet. You really don't want to know where those have been."

I pulled the shoe away from Serafina's face. An other-worldly look came across her, as though the Devil himself were possessed.  "Crush my feet," she demanded. "Crack them, break them, pulverize and shatter them. Do it now!"

I wasted no time. Jumping from my chair, I grabbed my magic marker and meticulously drew two big bull's eyes – one on each foot. "Now, you're talking, Sister."

"Hurry. Do it before I come to my senses."

Gathering my strength, I heaved the mighty sledgehammer to my shoulder. I adjusted my grip on the handle until I was certain that I had a perfect hold on it. With the shadow of Thor's daughter advancing across the determined face of Serafina, I approached and looked down upon her. "Let's up the ante."

"What? Are you nuts? Just break my feet. I beg you."

"In good time, Lover. Let's just examine the situation a little more closely. I'm about to give you the kind of beautiful feet that most women would die for; not to mention, that I am throwing in my highly cherished and utterly irreplaceable pair of Grimaldi Heartfires for…"

"What? What?"

"Easy Princess." I cleared my throat. "Ahem. The only minor concession I am asking for in return for this gracious gift, is the entire Industrial District from the Potash Processing Plant to the Fertilizer Factory. What do you say?"

"Yes! Yes! Whatever it is that you want, you can have it all. Now crush my feet before I change my mind!"

I love a girl who's decisive. "Alrighty then."

In one fell swoop I lifted the heavy sledgehammer high above my head and in an arcing movement brought it crashing square down on the target drawn onto her left foot as Serafina's eyes bugged out of her head. Crack! The sound of bones breaking filled the tiny farmhouse room like glass shattering against brick. The hammer reverberated like a tuning fork sending jolts of pleasure up both of my arms.

"Gaaiiii!" Serafina screamed like bloody-murder. She bolted upright in sudden shock and horror and a disturbing snapping sound shot out from her neck.

"Perfect," I said proudly. I went to wipe the sweat from my brow but my hands were still numb from the ringing. "Two injuries for the price of one." Flexing and bending my hands, the feeling finally returned as Serafina continued to howl in pain. I drew the hammer above my shoulder once more.

"No, no, no! Stop Alexis. I've changed my mind," she pleaded in between tears and profane exclamations of pain. "This is far worse than I ever imagined."

"Too late," I said curtly and wasted no time in bringing the slightly dinged, but still monstrously maniacal hammer down upon Serafina's defenseless right foot. Bones snapped like fragile little popsicle sticks. The Ottoman cratered under the blow while Serafina howled like a distraught she-wolf.

"Aaaauuuggh!" Her neck creaked as she jerked forward and back. "Stop! Stop! Stop! For the love of God, stop! I can't take this anymore."

"It's too late now, Dear. You can't stop the surgeon in the middle of the surgery. We've still got the post-op." I rummaged around and pulled out a ball-peen hammer from my orthopedic toolbox.

"No! No!" she implored.

"I'm embracing my inner Rodin," I said as I went quickly to work on the periphery of her feet like a cobbler prematurely released from the asylum.

Serafina snorted and sobbed

I drew out from my toolbox a platinum railroad spike. "This won't hurt at all…" I said, placing the spike up against one of her few unbroken metatarsals, "…compared to what you've just been through." It was difficult working with her recently malformed feet, lovely brown skin, now lumpy, purple and spider-webbed with splattered arteries. "I'm really quite professional," I said, chipping away at her few remaining healthy bones.

After five hours of exhausting effort and a great deal of screaming, until the poor thing was all screamed out, I put down my tools to admire my work. My chest swelled with pride. Not a metatarsal left unaltered. Soon Serafina would have the most beautiful feet in all of the land. I brought her back to consciousness with a dab of ammonia under the nostrils.

"Gak!" she spluttered.

"Time for the binding, Pumpkin." I produced a silver tray piled high with rolls and rolls of athletic tape. Against Serafina's vehement protests, I began binding her feet ever so tightly, taping and taping, forming her hideous size sevens into something wonderful, magical—breathtaking and inspiring. Ever so slowly, the shattered bones pushed closer together.

Following more than an hour of this heavenly ritual, I cut loose the ropes that had kept her legs tied together. Her white, sheathed feet were completely wrapped from pad to heel. From the back room I retrieved my medical bag of soft stockinette, cotton padding and plaster bandages.  

"Okay," I said triumphantly. "Time for the casts."

Carefully and methodically, I applied the cotton padding over the tight stockinette. Then came the warm, wet bandages. I wrapped each horrendously damaged foot with devoted precision and expertise.

Serafina purred like a contented kitty. "Oh Alexis, you're so talented. How could I have had any doubts? My damaged feet feel so warm and cozy in these thick plaster casts."

As the plaster dried, I untied the ropes that had kept Serafina's arms and hands bound in place behind her back. With her full compliance and a warm grin that melted my heart, she allowed me to place a soft cervical collar around her badly sprained neck, kissing my ears as I adjusted the Velcro tabs in the back.

"You're such an incredible artist, Alexis." Serafina rubbed at the warm, moist plaster cast while her other hand wandered up the inside of my thigh. "Where did you learn so much about anatomy?"

"The school of hard knocks, you could say." I blushed.

Serafina was nibbling on my kneecaps and tracing delicate figures of mayhem and murder into my left upper hip. "Now that I've gotten my dessert, what about you? What would you like for dessert," she said in a husky voice that melted the paint from the walls.

"My dessert?" I said humbly. "But, you're my guest and I'm your host. I could never ask…" At that moment, Serafina rubbed me ever so seductively in a place that I will leave to your imagination. "…Wooooo. Alright, Sister Souljah, tell me what you had in mind."

"Mmmm…I would like to take a leather whip and thrash you across your…"


"…Eggs?"

"Yes, please."

"Scrambled, poached, fried or boiled?"

Serafina was kicking back at her desk, admiring the view from the den of her beachfront condo. "Spanish Omelet, please. And no going light on the chili sauce."

I watched the butter sizzle in the bottom of the black, iron skillet. "You got it." I cracked some  eggs into a bowl and beat them vigorously with a whisk as I stepped into the den to check on Serafina."

She smiled broadly. "I'm so happy with my new feet. How long before the casts come off?" She was caressing the Heartfire, stroking and kissing it.

"Ten to twelve weeks—just to be on the safe side," I said in between beatings. "I had to crack an awful lot of bones."

"Oooh, I can hardly wait. I'm going to give up this gangster girl life and become a big ostentatious pop star—just as soon as my feet are healed."

"You're not going to forget about me, are you? You have to promise to send me backstage passes to all of your shows."

"I'll never forget you, Alexis, never." She hugged her left Grimaldi like it was a long, lost puppy. "I want to see the other shoe."

"Of course, Darling." I reached into my purse and pulled out the other shimmering, scarlet Heartfire. Serafina grabbed it like a hungry child, rubbing it against her face and neck.

"I love, love, love you, Alexis. The Heartfire is everything you said it was. You've made me the happiest girl ever. I just can't believe you would part with the world's most amazing pair of shoes."

"I know. I find it kind of hard to believe, myself. After all, what's a few measly square miles of territory when…"

The smile evaporated from Serafina's face. No longer, was she kissing and caressing the shoe. She clenched her teeth and turned, tomato-red. "Wait a minute," she growled. "This right shoe is smaller than the left shoe." She held the two shoes, side-by-side, out in front of me. Indeed, the left shoe was considerably larger.

I cleared the frog from my throat. "Er…yes, the right shoe is a size three. You're new right foot will be, uh…a size five."

Her hands were clenched tight enough to crush walnuts. "You tricked me!"

I thought carefully about her accusation. "No, I never said anything about having a matching pair of Heartfires. No way! Do you have any idea how difficult it would be to find a matching pair?"

Jumping to her casted feet, Serafina snarled and waived her crutch menacingly in the air. "I'm going to eat your feet for breakfast!"

I trembled. "Do you smell butter burning?"
Now for the exciting conclusion to "The Tragic Shoes." Serafina, gang leader of the Loco Mucho Loco Senoritas, is being held captive by her rival, Alexis Bleu, of the Golema Goth Girls. She now has a difficult decision to make: allow Alexis to drastically "modify" her feet, or lose possession of the world's most remarkable and beautiful shoe, the Reynaldo Grimaldi Heartfire. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity. The Heartfire has an incredible story behind it.

For a hint as to whether Serafina made the right decision or not, see a picture of her at: [link]

Chapter One: A Cozy Little Warehouse by the Wharf. [link]
Chapter Two: The Grimaldi Heartfires. [link]
Chapter Three: Love in the Age of Broken Toes. [link]
:iconfettered-fracture:
Fettered-Fracture Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2010
I like that this story has an edge of black humor to it that, in the hands of another writer, would have been completely absent. What could have been a bad story with torture ... you've honed into a good story involving our peculiar obsessions with success, beauty, and the lengths to which we deform ourselves in the effort to obtain one, the other, or both.

Good work.
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:icondanebainbridge:
DaneBainbridge Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you very much. Other than my story, "I'm Not Sorry." I don't write much that is strictly horror or strictly torture. Thanks for picking up on the theme of going to any length for beauty and success. Hopefully I haven't offended too many people. I believe that a size seven is probably fairly normal and I'm sure a size three would be hard to find. I appreciate your feedback. =)
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