Tim Connors, 130 TESS
When I made tracks up north, I knew I’d be teaching English, but I had no idea I’d find another calling. I’m a detective at Bantonphueng School. Shoes tend to wander off when they’re left outside. It’s my job to find them.
I’ve found shoes everywhere from sand pits to dog houses; from dumpsters to the inside of a microwave. If it’s a lost shoe, I can find it.
Some say I’ve got a shoe sense. But, I’m just persistent. I keep my eyes open, think about where I’d be if I were a shoe, and eventually, the shoes come to me. It’s simple.
Shoe case file Z1391: Pot, Pbratom 3
Pot’s shoes were missing for three days. The poor kid’s parents even came to the school and walked him around, retracing his steps, hoping he’d find them. Meanwhile, I did some reconnaissance—mostly eavesdropping on other classrooms. See, P. 1-P. 4 are lined up next to each other, so I figured somebody in those rooms knew something. But, I only heard the word for “shoe” one time, and when I rushed around the corner to catch the conspirers red-handed, I found another P. 3 student doing a handstand with shoes on his hands.
I was going to give up on poor Pot’s shoes when, on the way to my bicycle, I heard growling. The school dogs, Yon and White, were fighting. I got a little closer, and stuffed into White’s muzzle were small P. 3-sized shoes. I leaped and stomped on the ground, trying to scare White, but White’s a big dog. He’s not scared of nothing. He trotted away—out the gate and down the road. I chased him around the bend along a dirt path where he flung the shoes into a garden of weeds.
I was ready to close another case, but I couldn’t find the shoes. Then, I looked into the canal. The shoes were resting at the bottom of a narrow, muddy channel. Field crabs and cockroaches crawled in and out of them. I sighed, rolled up my pant legs, took off my shoes, and jumped in.
That night, my bathroom drain was clogged with mud, but I got Pot’s shoes back safe and sound.
Shoe case file F121C: Dang, Pbratom 1
I was sitting at my desk, jotting down some notes, when Dang took off his shoes at the office’s entranceway and came inside.
“Rong-Tao haai!” said Dang.
I stopped writing and gave him a look.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, they disappeared while I was playing football. I can’t find them.”
I nodded, “Ok, buddy, no problem. I’ll find them.”
Dang said thank you, waied, and left, leaping over his shoes and running back to the football field.
Suffice to say that was the easiest case I’ve ever had.
Shoe Case File D349H: Kam-Ing, Pbratom 2
“Don’t worry, kid, I’ll find them.”
My Paw Aw (director) walked in right after I finished reassuring poor little Kam-Ing who’d lost two pairs of shoes in the past twenty-four hours.
“Tim, we need to talk.”
“It’s about the shoes.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll find them.”
“Listen,” she said, “there are rumors going around that say you are hiding the shoes yourself. Is that true?”
I could hear the other teachers in the room stiffen and stop what they were doing to listen.
“No, of course not. I take my sleuthing very seriously. I would never hide shoes. I find them.”
She nodded, chuckled, and said, “Poot len (joking).”
Then, she left.
That afternoon, I found a pair of Kam-Ing’s shoes dangling from the top of a storage area fence. As I pulled them down, I saw a pile of shoes underneath an extra desk in the corner.
Suddenly, I heard my Paw Aw’s voice speaking to our cook, P Oi. They were coming my way. A setup. I looked for a way out, but the only thing to do was hide inside a chest filled with spider webs. I let the spiders and ants bite me until the voices faded away.
My own Paw Aw had tried to set me up. Why? What did she have against me? And did the cook have something to do with it? Where did all those shoes come from?
I started thinking, “Was I hiding the shoes myself? Were those shoes my own personal stash? Was I a depraved shoe-stealing addict? What the hell was I using them for?”
I called in sick the next day. I was so paranoid I became sick. I had a fever and hallucinated shoes marching around me in a circle on their own, their laces coiling and uncoiling, when suddenly their toes pointed at me. No matter how many times I closed and opened my eyes they wouldn’t disappear—in fact, they got closer and closer. When I finally fell asleep, I dreamed I was living in a giant shoe, and the giant shoe was filled with tiny shoes. I could hear a banging on a door I couldn’t find because there were so many shoes piled like sand around me, and I was clawing my way through all the shoes trying to find the door… when I woke up tangled in my mosquito net.
I went to school the next day, looking over both shoulders, waiting for the other shoe to drop. I had no clue what could be coming.
Imagine my horror when I saw piled next to my desk the same pile of shoes wrapped in a thick plastic bag.
My heart beat against my chest like a prisoner.
My head swayed like a rice stalk, and, just as I was about to faint, my counterpart walked in and said, “Oh, the shoe donations came.”
Laughter roared out of me. Of course! Donations. That’s what they were.
“What’s wrong with you?” asked my counterpart, “Are you sure you’re not still sick?”
“No,” I said, choking back giggles, “and I think it’s time I took a break from sleuthing and focused on teaching English.”