The unmistakable rattling woke Giuseppe up out of his sleep. Someone was in the shop downstairs, trying to make off with his materials. It had been going on for months now. He was the one of only two cobblers left in his section of the city and someone was trying to push him out of business by stealing from him.
He hadn’t noticed it at first, chalking up the missing items to his forgetful memory, but little by little, he realized it wasn’t his mind that was going, it was his inventory. Although he suspected that his competitor had hired some syncophant to rob him and sabotage his business, he had no way of proving it, until now.
Giuseppe pulled on some pants and grabbed his overcoat. This stealing was ending tonight. He quietly pulled his bat from the hall closet as he headed downstairs.
As he descended the stairs, he paused on each step, patiently listening as the rustling and rattling continued, until he had silently made it to the first floor. Giuseppe crept toward the door that served as his personal entrance to the shop attached to the back of his house. It was cracked open slightly, allowing a sliver of light to escape the shop and illuminate the wooden floor of his foyer.
The old man looked around, inspecting his shop, still hearing the sounds but seeing no one. In a movement so quick he almost missed it, a small shoe seemed to spring up from the floor and land on his worktable. The sudden motion startled Giuseppe causing him to quietly gasp and step back from the door.
He shook his head, unhinging his mind from the fantastic explanations growing within. Giuseppe Noronto wasn’t one to believe in fairy tales or legends.
Instead he stepped closer to the door and stood on his toes. A dirty blonde head came into view just as another shoe flew upwards to land on the worktable, followed by more scraping. They were children’s shoes that seemed as if they had worn out 10 years ago. Somehow the child thought they could be repaired.
Now it all made sense–the materials that had been missing, the tools that had been moved week after week. What he had mistaken as a common thief or even his competitor’s attempts at unravel his business was no more than a child attempting to repair shoes with unskilled hands.
Giuseppe trained his expert eye on the shoes. The work was decent for someone who was untrained, but it would take a bit more tack and leather to really make them last through a winter, particularly for a child who had no concept of preserving shoes. An idea sprang to his mind.
He backed away from the door, not wanting to disturb the work that was in progress. And based on the determined scraping there was much work to be done tonight. Giuseppe came back the way he had come, quietly and intently. It was late, but his mind was working.
As he lay his head down on his pillow he made a mental checklist of tomorrow’s duties. In the morning he’d make sure to order more tack and leather, and place an order for some more colorful shoestrings. He’d write a note before the end of the workday and see if he might have the opportunity to hire a new apprentice to his business who might be willing to learn the trade and work for shoes and a small wage.
Giuseppe sighed as he drifted to sleep, the sound of scraping playing a melodic song in his ears.