The sun was high over head and blazing down on the dusty man that stood alone in the great desert land. He wiped his sweaty brow with an old blue bandanna, passed on to him by his grandfather. Tossing the shovel aside, he grabbed a bottle of triple filtered water. He hadn't started this project alone, in the beginning there had been many out here with him digging in the heat and dirt. But as the weeks passed with little to nothing to show for the hours of sweat and back breaking labor they had all abandoned him. His research grant had been revoked, the ancient land of Texas was just a myth they said. Still he labored on, his grandfather had told him the stories, passed down to him by his grandfather, who had heard them from his grandfather, and so on. Texas had once been a vibrant land, full of legendary heroes of old, known as cowboys. his ancestors had been among these "cowboy" peoples. Not much was known of these heroes of old, less was known of their beliefs and customs. Once again he wiped his brow, wet the bandanna with some of the water from the bottle and ran it over the back of his neck. Today was the day, he was sure of it. Today he would find proof that an ancient thriving civilization once existed where now there was nothing but dust and sand, scorched by the searing sun. He looked over the grid he'd laid out months ago, he randomly picked a section toward the upper left corner. He hadn't really spent much time in that quadrant. He picked up the shovel and began the exhausting task of digging.
The sun had worked it's way across the sky and was setting when his shovel struck something hard....another rock no doubt. Still he tossed aside the shovel and began the painstaking process of brushing away loose dirt. One must always be cautious,he never knew when what looked to be a worthless rock would actually be the treasured artifact that would prove his theory. As he brushed aside the sand and dirt he began to get excited, this was no ordinary rock! The shape was oddly oblong and smooth. It was definitely man made! The sun was setting but he dared not stop. He powered up the solar generator and lights illuminated the dig site. Another two hours passed before he was able to work the object free. It appeared to be an ancient shoe of sorts that had petrified and turned to rock. The details were preserved almost perfectly, he could make out the crisscross design of ancient laces. Tears flowed freely down his cheeks as he tenderly cradled the treasure. Here was the validation he had been looking for, no more would he be the laughing stock of the archaeological community. His tears turned to laughter and he danced alone under the moon lit sky.
Ten years passed quickly by. No longer was he a madman digging alone in the desert. Now he was the world's leading expert on ancient Texas. Now others did the hard work of digging in the heat and he supervised their work and studied each and every treasure unearthed. The shoe had led to the discovery of an entire town that had been buried under the sands of time. Foundations of houses and businesses had been excavated, pieces of pottery, plastics, metals and bone had all been cataloged and studied. Bits and pieces of a long lost civilizations began to come together to form a glimpse of how the ancients lived and worked. It appeared they were nomadic, living in one town and commuting to another in some kind of rudimentary machine for work. Over-sized concrete and asphalt roads had been discovered, miles upon miles of them. It was inconceivable to think of how these primitive ancients had built such a large infrastructure, given their limited tools and education. Large, rusted metal stars were found scattered throughout the dig, It seemed nearly every house in the town had at least one of these stars. There were even concrete stars embedded in the roadwork. These cowboys had worshiped the night sky it had been concluded. What an amazing insight into their culture.
Still one piece of the puzzle nagged at the man. That one shoe that had led to the discovery of an entire town had also led to many more shoes, all in the same area, arranged sporadically around what had been a small lake. There were shoes of all different sizes, that had been purposefully coated in mud and left. The mud had preserved the shoes, petrifying them; a bit of good fortune for the man and his colleagues. The man puzzled over this cult of shoe worshipers. Why had there been only left shoes? Why so many different sized shoes? Was this the way they memorialized their dead? What was the significance of the lake? So many questions whose answers had been swallowed up by the sands of time.
Paul limped home, mud covering his left leg to the knee. He ripped his pants and lost his shoe in the pond, again. Mom was going to be mad, again. She said if he lost another shoe this month he was going to have to wear his slippers to school, he hadn't told her he'd already lost one of those in the mud too.
This story came to me one day after Paul came home for the gazillionth time covered in mud and missing his left shoe. Yes it's always just his one shoe. Don't ask me why, I have given up trying to figure out the answer. I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into my crazy brain. I can't help it, my mind turns everything into a story.
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