Bare feet were never meant for pavement. Right now, if Jack found a man who had no feet, it wouldn't put his life in perspective. He would see if the man still had shoes he could part with. Or at least, socks. He had relegated the voices to their discussion about the cat, and what it meant. He wanted to focus on what he was supposed to be doing.
After all, it was his last chance. His last chance for what, he didn't know. He didn't remember any past chances, so it could be his first and last chance. Whatever it was, it would be easier with shoes.
"Hey, shut up up there for a minute (shake, shake, shake), good. Now, where can I get shoes?"
"The shoe store?"
"You may not want their shoes, don't know what they died of."
The voices dispersed as he shook his head again. The city streets were dark and wet, and he felt the streets stretch on, seeming to hit the horizon in every direction. But, there was really just that one single point of light in the diner behind him. He had left when the old woman asked him to not over stay his welcome.
He had also seen the way the other man had walked in, and Jack decided this was not a man to ignore. But, you can ignore a lot for the right price. Right now, he was fifty dollars richer than he started the night. He was still contemplating what to do with it when the numbness in his feet gave him a clue.
So, he kept wandering the streets, trying to keep the blood flowing. He had gone several blocks, maybe fifteen minutes worth, before he heard a voice. At first he shook his head, but then realized it was an external voice. Another person actually out in this night.
"Man, what are you doing out this late?" The man was older, scrawny. He was wearing a little winter hat with an umbrella attached to the top, a green knee-length trench coat, and shoes. But, Jack realized as the man shifted in place and put his hands on his waist, nothing else.
"I don't know. Nice shoes."
"That's not what people usually notice," He said, loosening the trench coat.
"He's a weird man," the friendly voice said. "Maybe one of those nudists you read about in the paper."
"Why are we stopping? This isn't really a good place to stop."
"Pop him, take his shoes, then leave."
"You alright, man," the flasher asked as Jack shook his head to get the overwhelming urge to punch the flasher. The voices had power of him, he realized. It wasn't a completely uneven relationship, he could, after all, go Tornado Jack on them. But, they could make him do things.
"Get going," Jack said. "I'm not looking for any weirdos tonight."
"That's all you'll find around these parts," the flasher said. "What are you looking for?"
"Say shoes, and deck him."
"I'm actually looking for shoes," Jack said, feeling a sweat start to break out over his forehead. His left hand started shaking, and he had the sudden realization, I'm left-handed. What a quaint realization. He tucked his left hand into his pocket.
"Now who's a weirdo?"
"Still you," Jack said, at the same time as the arrogant voice echoed it in his head. The flasher laughed through cracked yellow teeth, his whole body shuddering.
"Birds of a feather, kid, birds of a feather."
"What are you doing out here?" Jack asked. "Besides being weird."
Jack felt his fist slide out of his pocket, easily, almost willingly, flexed a bit in the rain. "You're still being weird."
The flasher tensed up, as Jack cracked a knuckled absentmindedly. "Hey now, no need for that. I'll go take my art where people can appreciate it."
"Leave the shoes."
"The shoes. Leave'em. I'll pay you fifty dollars." The flasher didn't seem to want to argue with that point, and he kicked one shoe off, then the other. He reached out cautiously, as if Jack might bite him. Instead, Jack just handed the bill over.
"Now get lost, weirdo."