Writing Exercise 6 – Finding Inspiration

Prompt: Visit a garage sale or vintage store and focus on an unusual treasure that reveals something about its owner. Focus on the history of this object. Invent the history behind stains, nicks, dents, and other defects.

The old man almost looked like he was just sleeping, lying across his bed like that with his boot toes pointed skyward. Evan shook his head and rubbed at the messy curls across the back of his neck. Superstitious to the end, but at least he got what he wanted. He died with his boots on.

He was a little at a loss. Was there anyone to call? The old man had never said much about his past and didn’t talk at all about family. All Evan knew for sure was that he was from Big Sky Country–he was fond of saying it just like that–and that maybe he had worked a ranch. The boots were scuffed enough for it. Whatever finish the leather once had was now worn down and soft, creased in so many places it was hard to tell what was damage and what was part of the grain. Evan saw a hole in the right sole just beneath the ball of the foot, patched with something inside. He didn’t want to try to take it off to find out what. He was pretty sure moving a body around was tampering with evidence, or something like that.

He called 911 and then waited for someone to arrive. He only poked around a little with what was sitting out, an old, beat up moleskin journal filled mostly with lists, bill details, and a few little personal notes here and there about the weather or how the old man’s knee felt that day, his wallet, which was thin and had no credit cards, and a small stack of faded pictures with people dressed in 1960’s styles. One of them might have been the old man. If so, he had changed a lot.

The police arrived first, then the coroner. Evan stayed out of their way and answered their questions. Yes, he owned the property, no, he wasn’t next of kin, no, he didn’t know who was. When they wheeled the old man out on a gurney in a body bag, Evan looked around the place again. Strange how it didn’t feel all that empty without the old man, as though he had just been passing through. Evan thought maybe that was appropriate for a man wanting to die with his boots on. It’d be a shame to bury him in them. It was a good pair of boots.

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