The other day I heard a yarn about flying slippers. It reminded me of flying carpets! It was so convincing that it sounded almost true. My friend told me he had been to Rome on business. His wife had remained in Brazil. When alone he tends to go to bed early, especially as next morning he has to get up early to go to Nemi way up in the hills that circle Rome, not far from Castel Gandolfo, the Pope's Summer residence, and quite a distance from his hotel. He always enjoys going there, as there are more Italians than tourists, and also because the climate is almost 5ºC cooler that down in Rome itself, and far more agreeable. It was an ideal place for business—he never told me what it was—but the advantage of dealing with the locals, without intervention of foreigners and tourists made it worthwhile. He would arrive back at the hotel exhausted, and would take off his shoes and put on a pair of slippers bought at a store close by the hotel.
When tired, he normally relaxed in an old and large bathtub with bronze lion feet, with hot water up to his chin. He knew that when getting out of the tub, he would leave a trail of water behind him, so he would leave his slippers close to the bathroom door so they wouldn't get wet. That night he had left his slippers in their customary place, but they were not there when he wanted them. Although he was certain he had put them there, he went looking for the slippers in his room. He simply could not find them. All of a sudden he heard a slight whistle. Turning around he saw the slippers on the windowsill.
“How in blazes did they land there? I must be sort of crazy in putting them there!”
He intended to go down for dinner once he had finished dressing. He decided to put away his slippers, but they were not on the sill anymore. He looked down at his feet and saw that he was already wearing them.
“Holy smoke. I must have my head examined!”
He still had to comb his hair, but the step forward he gave was larger than usual, completely out of control. He gave another step and almost toppled over. Another pace and the slippers seemed to be in command. Frightened, he tried to take them off, but was unable to, for they were stuck to his feet. He heard light laughter, and then again that low whistle. His hair stood on end, for those sounds seemed to come from his feet, or more precisely, from his slippers.
“What's all this? Some kind of a practical joke? Tomorrow I'm going to deal with the chap that sold me those slippers.”
The slippers kept moving. As he was unable to take them off, he got up from where he was seated, and immediately started to float in the air. It was even difficult in maintaining his balance. He gave up, and decided to see what would happen next.
The slippers took him over to the open window, and made him climb onto the sill. He was holding on for dear life, as the slippers were doing everything to make him let go. He looked down from the 10th floor of the hotel, and terrified he shouted:
“Help! Get me away from here! I don't want to die!”
His resistance did not last for long. Despite holding on by his fingernails, the slippers won the battle and they left the window behind, as they flew away.
“Noooooo. Let's go back. Please. I forgot to comb my hair!”
That lame excuse was to no avail. He recognised various places: the Coliseum, the Pantheon, the Fontana di Trevi. Suddenly they were flying over Nemi and the Castel Gandolfo. He recognised two lakes, a smaller one, the Lake Nemi, and Lake Albano, closer to the Papal Palace, located in an extinct volcano crater.
The slippers seemed to have a fondness for water, because soon they were skimming the surface of the water as though they were skis. He was even enjoying himself, as he had always wanted to feel the sensation of skiing, that is, gliding over the water. Well... everything comes to an end, and the slippers stopped skiing and he started to sink. He was going under, and was suffocating as water reached his mouth. He could hardly cry out.
“Help, hel... blub, blub.”
He gave a jolt and opened his eyes. He was almost drowning in the hotel’s bathtub. Recovering from his panic and nightmare he got up and dried himself. He looked at the innocent slippers where he had left them so they wouldn’t get wet. He thought there was a certain brightness on the slippers, and close up he saw they were soaking wet.
My friend never gave it a second thought. He opened the door of the hotel room, saw where there was the opening slot for rubbish, and threw the slippers down the chute to the bin below. When he was about to close the intake door, he heard once again that light laughter and low whistle!
many thanks go to
for revising the draft