He never thought to check for the size. The color and shape was the same. The pair he grabbed felt right. Leaving the mosque of Salaam Al Turk in a hurry, as he did every Wednesday, he picked up the worn, brown loafers. Slipping them on quickly and tripping out the door into intense sunlight, he strode on home, arriving just after sunset.
It wasn’t until after dinner that night and a losing round of backgammon that the knock on the door came. It was a knock, like any other. Polite taps. He opened the door and his brothers from the mosque stood, appearing nervous and looking down. The imam moved forward and forced his way inside, frowning at the dusty marble squares. There, in the vestibule, five pairs of shoes, neatly organized (by size), toes pointing to the wall, waited. The imam picked up his shoes and studied them carefully. One of the shoes, the left one, was obviously longer than the other. He spoke plainly. “You have my shoe, sir. I can tell because the pair I have on right now is a mismatched pair.”
Jarfur was humiliated. How could he have been so stupid to mismatch – and with the imam? He bowed severely and apologized deeply. “My teacher, you have been wronged. I do not deserve to wear your shoes. This was an unfortunate mistake,” Jarfur pleaded. The imam raised the one larger shoe above his head and with one sharp blow set Jarfur to the floor. The heel had cut his brow and the floor had collided with his chin in a loud whomp. The gathered men picked him up and threw him into the alley. No one in the houses nearby could hear a thing, as each home was set back from the alley by a deep entryway- well away from the rest of the living space. Jarfur’s family was not aware of the events and continued their nightly routines. The holy men from the mosque departed quickly and Jarfur awoke. The pain on his chin was wincing but fortunately the slice on his brow was already coagulating. He stood quickly and thanked Allah for his mercy.
Walking back to the open front door, he paused, looked down the alley both ways. No one saw him. Quietly closing the door he also looked down. There, at his feet, only one brown shoe.