The One-Shoe Victory: (Holiday Spectacular Story #21)

As noted here, I’m commenting daily on the WMG Holiday Spectacular—which is a great project that releases a story every day. These might be reviews. Or not. They might be interesting. Or … um … not. They will be fun, though. For me, at least.

Here’s the next story.


“The One-Shoe Victory”
Dean Wesley Smith

Here’s a thing about Dean Wesley Smith. The guy lives in the present about as well as any human being I’ve ever met. If you’ve met him, too, you know what I mean. His ability to focus on what matters has that oddly lazy feeling of just always being there. He’s never rushed, but always doing something—even if that something is simply listening intently to whatever is going on around him. The man is always learning.

Then there’s the output. I mean, you can’t talk about Dean Wesley Smith without saying something about his ability to produce quality fiction in bulk. To call him prolific is to call a habanero “perhaps a little spicy.” Regardless of all that, though, his kind of personality—an intensity of focus—can’t help but come out in his fiction, and “The One-Shoe Victory” is a quite remarkable example of that. Set in a nursing home as Christmas approaches, it’s very short, but covers a lot of ground. It’s a simple little story, but at times breathtakingly tender. It doesn’t match Dean’s (at times) curmudgeonly surface, but it most certainly is the result of his amazing eye for detail and ear for purpose.

It breaks rules, too, you know? Don’t start with a person waking up from a dream, they all used to tell me—whoever “they” were. But, as we find in the first sentence, that’s what happens here and it’s perfect. To hell with rules, right? Just write your damned story and let the world sort it out.

For most of us, that statement might feel a little edgy, but sitting here in my office I can picture Dean just looking at me and saying “What the hell else would you do?”

Anyway. It’s been a hard kind of year for me in a few different ways, and I’ll leave it here to just remark that this story spoke to me. It hit me where it hurts in the best ways that kind of thing can be done. I suspect that it might do the same for several of you.

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