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The Slipper Expedition

By Natalia Gustin The peaceful ambiance of the retirement home was broken by the smashing of a chair.

Gregory, the resident cat owner, stood over the chair with a now-broken leg, while Meatloaf,

Spatula, and Kitty-Cat, all chewing on a giant piece of cotton, were crouched under the

receptionist’s desk. Gregory demanded the nearest nurse find his torn-up, beloved slippers.

His son had gifted them to Gregory on his 50th birthday and had been a part of his everyday routine for the past 32 years. ` “Find my slippers immediately. I can’t believe my son put me in this busted up home

with rude nurses,” Gregory growled.

The nurse, a cheerful woman in her late twenties, responded, “Sir, please calm down. I’m

sure they’re nearby.” The nurse was blonde and reminded Gregory of a Bingo! host.

“Ah, you all are useless. I’ll go find it myself,” Gregory responded before stomping

away. Gregory grabbed his cane from the nearby armchair and pointed it towards the nearest

person, an old lady knitting a sweater. Her brown eyes magnified by her thick glasses, Esther

looked up at Gregory.

“What? I can't hear you, Gregory,” Esther said.

“Esther, where are my slippers? I know you have them.”

Gregory had remembered receiving the soft, comforting beige color, and the fluffy wool

attracted him immediately to his new birthday gift. He had opened them at his 50th birthday

party in front of all the guests, even his son. Gregory felt his son allotted too much time to his

kids, and not enough to his dear father. Gregory set his gift aside and said, “So you finally got

over that grudge of yours, son?” For the first time in a while, Gregory and his son laughed

together.

“Gregory, I’m real sorry, but I don’t know where your slippers are. You know, back in

1932, my neighbor Bobby John lost his slippers too,” Esther said. “Maybe you would like to hear about it, Gregory.”

“That sounds like an awful story, you boring old lady.” Gregory quickly walked off to the

next person, a physical therapist helping Esther with her knees.

“Oh, Gregory! How are you feeling today?” The physical therapist was a bubbly young

man who loved to help the less fortunate, no matter how grumpy they were. He was a short and bald man, who always smelled like citrus because he farmed oranges.

“I’ve been feeling worse since I saw you this morning,” Gregory mumbled. “Aside from

that, I want them back. I know it was you, in your insufferable quest to help Esther with her

locked-up knees.”

The physical therapist was in the process of placing braces on Esther.

“Oh Gregory, it would help to be positive once in a while.”

“Whatever,” Gregory said as he walked to the nearest hallway, in search of his lost gift.

A pair of beige, trashy shoes caught his eye, sitting by the large, red armchair in the

hallway.

“My slippers are here!” Gregory crouched down to retrieve them, just to be blocked by a

large, muscular janitor.

“You again? Hey, old man. What are you doing touching my loafers?”

Gregory backed up. “These are my slippers, you dumb oaf.”

The janitor clenched his teeth.

“Back off, old man.”

Gregory furrowed his thick, gray brows and shuffled away to his cat tree, too

embarrassed to look back. Towering above his short stature, the 3-tiered cat tree was Gregory’s favorite spot to watch when he needed to relax. The beige carpeting on the tree was a calming color for Gregory.

“The nerve he must have,” Gregory mumbled to Meatloaf, one of his cats. Meatloaf had

brown fur accentuated by red markings, similar to a meatloaf. He looked over at the cat tree,

where Kitty-cat and Spatula, his two other cats, were interested in a small, brown object.

Struggling, Gregory stood up to investigate the new toy.

“Spatula! That’s mine! Bad cat, Kitty-cat.” Each cat was at opposite ends of the new toy,

biting it. Spatula had rough, gray fur, resembling a rusty spatula.

Gregory started crawling on his hands and knees, desperately searching for the other

slipper.

“Where could you dumb cats have put that?”

Breaking his concentration with a large meow, Gregory saw Meatloaf sleeping on the

other one.

“ No! Bad!”

Gregory yanked his slipper out from underneath Meatloaf’s belly, and put it in his closet,

next to a picture of his ex-wife.

Spatula yowled softly, feeling great despair at the loss of her new toy. She rubbed against Gregory’s leg, looking up at him with soft, pleading eyes.

“Oh, you needy cats,” Gregory grumbled as he placed his beloved slippers on the cat tree.

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