A woman was walking down the platform of a suburban train station when suddenly she slumped and fell to the ground. There she lay, her head propped against the end of a bench seat, her eyes wide open, staring along the platform.
“They’re such funny things, shoes,” thought the woman, who had only just at that moment died of a brain haemorrhage. A man stopped in front of her.
“Canada Street,” he said. An elderly couple stopped beside him. “I was the first here,” he said in a matter of fact sort of way, looking at the corpse. The other two were silent. The old woman, however, began searching through her handbag. Finally, she pulled out a packet of menthol cigarettes.
“Cigarette?” She held the packet out to the first man.
“My name’s Walter,” he said and took one. “Walter Zink.”
“I seem to have misplaced my sack. You wouldn’t have seen it by the way,” said the corpse, but no words came out.
“Canada Street,” repeated Walter Zink as the old lady lit his cigarette.
She turned to her husband. “Of course, there’s a Canada Street in Morrinsville but that won’t be the one. We should telephone a taxi, Bub.” The old man grunted a reply.
“You go ahead. I’ll be fine,” she told him. “Walter and I will stay here.”
Mr Menthols took himself off to find a telephone. Meanwhile, some woman in a tracksuit had found the corpse’s sack which had been hiding beside a concrete tub in which was growing something resembling an enormous pineapple. She began emptying its contents onto the pavement.
“Cannibal!” scowled the corpse in her thoughts.
“Empty,” said the woman in the tracksuit in disgust, holding the sack upside-down over the pile of rubble which she had tipped out of it. She dropped the sack and walked away.
Presently, a man in a grey suit stopped beside the pineapple. He bent down and gave a whistle of astonishment.
“Somebody’s typewriter,” he said. Mrs Menthols and Walter Zink turned and looked blankly in his direction. “An Olivetti,” he added, and tapped a few of the keys. “You don’t see many Olivettis around these days.”
“No, that’s true,” the corpse was thinking. “I bought that in Florence from dear Mr Scarpa, the actual feet of Jesus. They even came in their own sack.”
“I think I’ll sit down,” said Walter Zink, and he sat down, the green railings of the bench making grooves in his nonsensical bottom.
But the corpse was thinking: “Nothing is really lost, Signor Scarpa. In fact, everything winds up somewhere, wherever it should be.”
“Wonderful these Olivettis,” said the man in the grey suit who was still fiddling with the typewriter.
“Frank!” exclaimed a voice close by.
The corpse was thinking: “How true! How right you are! It’s uncommon the way our two minds work together!”
A pair of brown trouser legs, feet in plastic sandals, strode across the platform in front of her. Beyond, Walter Zink dropped his cigarette to the pavement and stubbed it out with an elegant, Italian made shoe.
“No, I don’t think so. I’m sure not. That is unless I’m seeing things. You know, I think it’s you who are seeing things,” continued the corpse.
“You don’t see many fingers about these days,” said the Olivetti.
Walter Zink shifted his bottom on the bench. Out of breath, Mr Menthols was back from telephoning the taxi. “We gotta go,” he said.
An eerie silence descended over the platform.
“Signor Scarpa told me,” the corpse was thinking, “that when, in 1652, the monks put a door through the wall below Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Last Supper’ in Santa Maria delle Grazie, they managed to lop off Jesus’ feet. The monks for some ungodly reason needed to get through to the next room. Though one, a particularly zealous monk by the name of Charles, decided that the feet were too precious to throw away and, without the authority of anyone, gathered up the fragments of holy foot, placed them in a sack and delivered them to his brother-in-law. This brother-in-law, apparently a fat merchant type, in turn sent them to a certain lady of Pisa, a very good customer of his. The feet were never missed by any at the refectory.”
A policeman had arrived on the scene, and although nobody was particularly crowding the dead woman, he began to usher everyone to one side. “Come on, move aside.. give the lady a bit of air.”
“She’s dead,” said Walter Zink as he got up from the bench and sidled over to the cop. “Completely dead.”
“Suppose she’s drunk?” speculated Mrs Menthols.
The policeman crouched beside the corpse.
“Hmmm..” the corpse was thinking “they’re such funny things shoes.. tongues, and eyes for looking through..”
Looking as though he might yet motion all to the other side, the policeman stood up. But evidently, an ambulance had arrived. Two orderlies were wheeling a stretcher along the platform.
The corpse was thinking “Charles. The feet were too precious to throw away.”
The stretcher stopped beside her. One of the orderlies took her pulse.
“She’s dead,” repeated Walter Zink.
“That’s right. And where would we be without nails?” pondered the corpse.
Placing a finger on each eyebrow, the orderly closed her eyes.