M is pacing around the kitchen, phone in one hand, Russian-English dictionary in the other. He is yelling. I sit, trying to figure out what he is saying.

“I’ll kill you” he says, or maybe, “I’m dying” or maybe, “fish tastes great on Tuesdays.” I should really study more.

Belly, M’s dog begins barking which can mean one of two things: someone is at the door, or his PTSD is acting up. I check the door.

L walks in.

“Hello,” he says. His accent is thick. He takes off his shoes. I step aside as he goes to the bathroom to wash his hands. I go back into the kitchen and light a cigarette. M is yelling now, about hot-sauce this time, maybe. L calls from the bathroom.

“What?” I call back. He pops his head out.

“May I wash my feet?” he says.

“Sure?” I tell him. He nods and soon I hear the water running in the bath.

He comes in a minute later with his pant legs rolled to below his knees. Before he can sit down M hands him the phone.

“Can you talk to these people?” he says. L nods. He takes the phone, listens, then speaks. After a moment he asks M.

“What is it you need?”

“Medicine” M says. L nods, listens, talks, turns back to M.

“For what?”

“Death,” M replies. L nods, listens, talks, says goodbye.

“Two days,” he says to M.

M thanks him. We all take our seats around a bottle of wine. I pour out three glasses and place the bottle on the floor. L looks down at my feet.

“So, it is true?” he says.

“What?”

“Americans don’t take off their shoes inside.”

I nod, embarrassed. My boots are new, and tight, I do not like taking them off.

“Why are Russians always taking their shoes off and washing their hands anyways,” I ask, innocently defensive.

“It is where bad luck lives. You bring it into your house on your hands and the bottoms of your feet.”

I stare down at my hands and realize I’ve spent my entire life never washing my hands nor taking off my shoes after walking into my house. L places a hand gently on my shoulder.

“That is why you end up in this place,” he looks out the window at the heavy afternoon sky, “this savage country, in the dark.”

 

**If you enjoyed this story, check us out on Facebook for more on the stories behind the stories. Or, Instagram for comics, bonus stories, are and more.

Author Benjamin Davis and artist Nikita Klimov created one story and one picture each day for one year. In May 2018 they published their first book, The King of FU

11 Comment on “The Man With Clean Feet

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