The Story of the Shoes ~ Outside the Margins with KJ Charles

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We have had many lodgers, some of them pretty odd, but Oliver was the worst. It wasn’t that he was a bad person so much as that he never, ever bothered to consider a different point of view to his own. Thus, when we were burgled on holiday and the house trashed, he phoned me to ask if I knew where the back-door keys were.

Me: Aren’t they hanging up in the usual place?

Oliver: No, the burglars threw them all on the floor and kicked them around, and I can’t find them. Do you know where they might be?

Me: You realise we’re several thousand miles away and haven’t seen what the burglars did to our house yet, right?

Oliver: I just thought you might know.

This was not a one-off. I remember my son’s fourth birthday party. One of his friends had wet himself, I was trying to get the crying child’s sodden jeans off, and Oliver came up and started to complain about our wireless broadband speed while I knelt in an expanding puddle of tears and wee.

(Even the cat hated him. There was a night I came into the hall to see the cat lurking under the table in a hunting crouch. As I was looking around for a mouse, the door opened, Oliver came in, and the cat quite literally went for his throat, leaping about five feet straight into the air with claws out and sending him flying back with a screech of terror. I love my cat.)

So anyway, the highlight of the Oliver experience was the night he came in to the living room.

Oliver: KJ, have you seen my shoes? They’re brown suede, brand new.

Me: No, sorry.

Oliver: They were in the hall and now they’re gone.

Me: I look after my shoes and the kids’ shoes. I don’t know about your shoes.

Oliver: But I put them in the storage unit and they’ve gone. Have you not seen them?

Me: What storage unit?

Oliver: The round red plastic storage unit in the corner.

Me: … you put your shoes in the bin?

Oliver: It’s a storage unit. I’ve seen things stored in it.

Me: What, like banana peels? Sweet wrappers?

Oliver: So where are my shoes?

Me: The tip, I should think. Mr KJC emptied the bins last night and the garbage went out this morning.

Oliver, baffled and betrayed: You mean, he threw out my new shoes? Why would he throw out my shoes?!

Me: …because you put them in the bin?

I think about that conversation occasionally (the kids like to perform a dramatic two-hander of The Night Oliver Put His Shoes in the Bin for visiting guests). I’ve been thinking about it particularly with the marriage equality news from the US and the increasingly desperate arguments that somehow this Supreme Court judgement isn’t supreme, and that marriage is a round red storage unit for heterosexual people only.

There are few spectacles more pathetic than adults trying to remake facts with words, as if ‘the Supreme Court says’ and ‘you put them in the bin’ are matters of opinion. Fundamentally, you can keep on calling it a storage unit as much as you like, and if you’re the one in power you can decree that it is a storage unit and be damned to all the people who object. But when the people who run the place decide it’s a bin…it’s a bin.


And, just like Oliver, the next step for the bin denialists is to reframe the situation in a way that makes them the victim. Why did you throw away my right to discriminate?! Why are you picking on my sincerely-held storage unit beliefs?

Thing is, mate, your shoes have gone, and no amount of complaining is going to bring them back. So you can continue to dissociate from the way things are until you find yourself excluded from the rest of the house, or you can just suck up your wrongness. Accept that the world is not the way you’d have chosen, and maybe try looking at it from someone else’s perspective to see if you can work out why.

And buy a new pair of shoes. If you make them a bit nicer next time, maybe nobody will throw them out.

~KJ Charles


Title: The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal
Author: KJ Charles
Publisher: Samhain
Publication Date:
Cover Artist: Kanaxa
Genre: Gay Fiction


A story too secret, too terrifying—and too shockingly intimate—for Victorian eyes.

A note to the Editor

Dear Henry,

I have been Simon Feximal’s companion, assistant and chronicler for twenty years now, and during that time my Casebooks of Feximal the Ghost-Hunter have spread the reputation of this most accomplished of ghost-hunters far and wide.

You have asked me often for the tale of our first meeting, and how my association with Feximal came about. I have always declined, because it is a story too private to be truthfully recounted, and a memory too precious to be falsified. But none knows better than I that stories must be told.

So here is it, Henry, a full and accurate account of how I met Simon Feximal, which I shall leave with my solicitor to pass to you after my death.

I dare say it may not be quite what you expect.

Robert Caldwell

September 1914

The Caldwell Ghost and Butterflies are previously published short stories. The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal continues and completes Robert Caldwell and Simon Feximal’s story with primarily new material.

Contains a foul-tempered Victorian ghost-hunter, a journalist who’s too curious for his own good, villainy, horror, butterflies, unusual body modifications, and a lot of tampering with the occult.


The Secret Casebok of Simon Feximal on Goodreads
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About KJ Charles


Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

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8 thoughts on “The Story of the Shoes ~ Outside the Margins with KJ Charles

  1. OMG that is hysterical – I’ve known so many people like that, including (hopefully only a phase) my teenager. And living in the US, there are so many people who don’t understand how our government works (an entirely other issue deserving of a long rant) who think they can just ignore what they don’t agree with. I’m afraid this is going to be a mess for a long time.

  2. I know this is not going to be a popular comment. The analogy is good the mocking someone who sounds like they have an autistic spectrum disorder is really not. If he had been clueless once it might have seemed like he was just the worst but to constantly be out of synch it sounds like he has ASD. The not seeing things from your point, not behaving as you would expect in a social setting and not understand empathy are part of that disorder. I know how frustrating it can be I had a friend who didn’t pick up clues as when it would be bad to bring up wireless connections, or loudly sing but as annoying as it was he couldn’t help it. He was only diagnosed as an adult when someone at work treated him badly because of his problem.

  3. I had a blue ‘storage unit’ exactly like that. LOL Oh Oliver. How do those people even function in life? (And I mean that in the even wider analogous context you put out there.)

    Love those sneakers though.

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