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[audio:https://killauthor.com/audio/issueten/jessica_hollander.mp3|titles=No Shoes No Service|artists=Jessica Hollander]

The restaurant had a sign: “No shoes, no service.” Everyone in the place wore shoes and also carried a weapon. It was lunchtime. The girl in the front booth wore purple leopard-print galoshes. A small silver handgun sat beside her plate. The boy across from her wore brown loafers. He carved a heart into the table with a long ragged knife. In the booth next to them, two old men wore leather slippers and had in their laps matches and small containers of gasoline. A woman in shiny leather shoes that belonged to a man she just killed in the men’s bathroom trimmed her cuticles with a pocket-knife. Three little boys, accompanied by no adults, wore shoes resembling ladybugs, black beetles and bees respectively, and they jabbed their forks at each other’s arms, never quite breaking the skin. The owner of the restaurant closed at 2:00 on the nose and asked everyone to leave. He held the door open and stared impatiently at his watch. Everyone shoved a few more bites in their mouths. They left their weapons and shoes in the restaurant. “Thank you,” they said to the owner. All day, they walked around barefoot and felt happy.