Time had come again for a little life savin’. Dusty as they should be, the reddish loafers with the original pennies would take a walk today. At 18, Ivan had slipped the coins into the slots where the tongue of a laced shoe would be. Like him, they were minted in Denver in 1945. There rested the magic, the miracles…the maybe.

He’d read in the Fresno Bee, online edition, an average coin lives around 47years before it’s recalled, fed to a fountain, tossed in a jar, lost or now in an old man’s shoes for a once young mans’ luck. These were on second rotation: good or bad?

Ivan smiled and drifted to the memory of a pocket full of pennies and other small change: nickels, dimes and quarters fueling a boyhood’s realities, a half, four bits, giving birth to power and bigger plans. Silver dollars went beyond small change; they marked birthdays and Christmas and lived in a special tin to be collected for something unclear instead of spent. He had 12 of them, still in the tin, sharing a drawer with his socks.

Today, though, everything fell to lucky pennies, the ones enshrined in those shoes: the promise that they didn’t give but the hope that they let Ivan keep. “Corpsman!” cried a haunting voice from somewhere, long, long ago; he’d somehow made it home…to more: bout one with cancer, bout two; he’d have another scan today…bout three?

He wiped the shoes with a cloth and opened the polish tin; it’s price tag named a store that had closed years ago. Lid off, Ivan needn’t await the savory smell of leather polish. It wouldn’t come: gone from first chemo: a fair trade. He hadn’t hoped; accepting the longing, he tested past memories of scents.  Well, with or without scent or sense, shoeshine time had come. 

Application brush in hand, he smiled again that morning; he’d heard his mother’s voice, her younger, learning voice practicing for wisdom, “See a penny, son; pick it up. All day long, you’ll have good luck.”

Could he hope so…one more escape across a field of battle: one more year of a second 47-year recall? 

“Silly reddish shoes,” Ivan said as he began to spread the color.

He heard, this time, the wiser voice, “They’re not reddish son; it’s called cordovan.”