Denis de Rue St. Denis

Rue St. Denis 1960

Rue St. Denis 1960

He always admired women for how they could maneuver themselves in heels.

No one knows this but one day a very long time ago, he was in his living room lying on the couch. His lover at the time was late for work. Nevertheless she was speaking to him, who knows what about, running all over the apartment like a mad chicken.

His feet were crossed and his socks were comfortable. He knew it was best not to intervene when she was in flurry, so kept his eyes on the paper, which was impossible to read with her heels panicking across the floor.

He loved how distracted she could get. Or, how she never realized that this was exactly what always delayed her exit. He turned to a new section and snapped the page. There is something about this woman, his eyes diverted, how hard she makes it for herself, yet blames it all on anything and anyone but herself. He smiled and went back to paper.  

Her feet halted. “What are you smiling about?” Hair up in a twist, as per usual, with strands falling on either side of her flushed face. When the tips curled off her jaw, or strands clung to her lips, he fell in love with this woman over and over again who had no idea why she was beautiful.

“Nothing. What are you looking for?”

In a froth, she brushed her hair away–”my lipstick.”

Keeping his eyes on the page, to avoid a reprimand for stating the obvious– “Did you check your purse?”

“Of course I checked my purse! Stop distracting me!”

“Hmm...” Raising his eyebrows, her lips almost curled into a smile. “STOP!” Her skirt twirled behind her like the sweetest little girl. Her legs were all woman though.

She dove for the bag. From it she pulled the two ends of her delicate necklace that reminded him of the halos of Fra Angelico. Scurrying towards him, she plopped down on the floor holding the two ends behind her for him to take. He closed the paper and took them.How precious and vulnerable she was when she would pull her hair away to expose the back of her neck. No sooner did he complete the task did she spring up. Then back to the bag she went, fumbling frantically. After letting out a frustrated– "ahh!"– she ran off into the next room.

About a minute later, she came back into the living room empty handed wondering where that damn lipstick disappeared to. She began going into improbable places: the refrigerator, the medicine cabinet, his stationery drawer. He began to fix on her feet, heels clicking around the wooden floor, and tried to imagine how that could be comfortable. When she finally found her lipstick in her purse, (how women lose things was an anomaly to him), she bolted towards the coat rack telling him what time to meet her later, and the backstory of the person he would be meeting, and her analysis of their character, all the while twirling on the balls of her feet; heels not touching the ground. He was dazzled. As her hand grabbed the door-handle, he threw himself towards the door and seized her. One arm wrapped around her waist as he pressed up against her. He tightened his grip, and gently shifted their weight forward. Click. Her heel went. Click. Then the other. Reaching around her, he shut the door like he had clasped her necklace. Slipping through the crack between her coat, his hand ran eager for her breasts. Her forehead fell upon the door. Turning her around to kiss her, she stumbled back into the door, which made an awkward sound. She kissed him like maybe she would stay, then pushed him away, then pulled him back, then pushed him away again, then opened the door with a little difficulty and slammed it shut. He listened to her heels doing the best they could in a hurry. The floor creaked beneath his feet. He patted his erection down, gently rocked back and forth on his feet, stared at them inquisitively. Planting the ball of his left foot into the ground, he applied more weight onto it. Bounced a little bit to feel it out. He lifted his right heel off the ground, and began to ascend. He smiled, proud of himself. This isn't so hard. The moment he tried to step in his invisible heels, however, he stumbled. His hands reached for the console next to the door, which always proved useful when he was drunk, and apparently in love. He never tried that again.

But the women on the street, standing on impossible heels; the dull, invisible ache. The Asiatique in a distant doorway; poised, stoic, and ready, crimson lips under a bright yellow umbrella. Her heel circling around the sound of footsteps against cobblestones. It was one of his favorite sounds; simple, and ordinary, a pleasure that now seized him with a sudden urgency, and fervor. Crooked, uneasy, uneven history beneath his feet, no longer able to keep up his thoughts. Into its cracks soon, very soon, he would dive. All of these sounds, within and without, flooded his mind with one deafening, even surprising conclusion. Though many years had passed, and she a mere memory he could barely grasp; an apparition striding too quickly past him, how he yearned for the sound of those heels again.




Gary Winogrand

Gary Winogrand