The Boy with the Lead Boots

by David Turnbull -

Everybody wanted to know the secret of the boy with the lead boots. Particularly Kaz, Emma, and Marco, who considered it their absolute duty to find out everything about everyone else’s business.

Where did he come from? Why was he here? And most of all, what was the deal with those clomping, lead covered boots he had to drag himself around on?

Their head teacher had been no help.

All she’d told the school assembly was the poor boy had to wear lead covered boots because of an ailment he suffered, and as a consequence of how difficult this made it for him to walk, he would be zooming around school in an electric wheelchair most of the time.

“Usually she gives more detail,” complained Kaz as the three of them huddled in their favored spot by the far wall of the playground. “Like if a new kid arrives with asthma or something, she usually tells us about their pump and what to do if we see them having an attack.”

Emma twisted her hair around her finger in that annoying way of hers. “Maybe he’s got Kangaroo Foot Syndrome?” she suggested.

Kaz and Marco both gave her a puzzled look.

“There’s this disease called Elephantiasis,” explained Emma. “You catch it from a tiny little worm, and your feet swell up till they are as big as an elephant’s. Maybe there’s another version where your feet grow as long as a kangaroo’s?”

Kaz shook her head. “He’d be more likely to wear clown shoes if that was the case.”

“Well, I was thinking the lead on the boots stops his feet from growing out of proportion and keeps them normal size,” said Emma.

“I reckon he has radioactive feet,” said Marco. “It’s a well known fact that radioactive material can’t penetrate lead. I bet the boots are to prevent his feet from exploding.”

Kaz and Emma rolled their eyes at each other.

“Does everything have to involve explosions?” asked Emma.

“This is no good,” said Kaz. “You’re just going to have to ask him outright.”

“Me?” protested Marco. “Why me?”

“You’re a boy,” replied Kaz. “And he’s a boy. It’ll be better coming from you. If either of us just go up and talk to him, he’ll go all red-faced and bashful.”

At first the boy with the lead boots seemed quite talkative.

“Mike Brownlee,” he answered to Marco’s question what his name was.

“My Dad started a new job,” was the reply when Marco asked why Mike had moved to a new school.

“He’s a culinary whiz,” was the answer to Marco’s question about what new job Mike’s Dad had started. “He’s been appointed as Executive Chef at one of the big hotels downtown.”

Mike looked relaxed, sitting in his electric wheelchair and watching the hustle and bustle of the playground with a somewhat detached air. So Marco felt the time was right to fire off the big question.

“What’s the deal with the lead boots?” he asked.

Mike stiffened in the chair. He looked down at his clunky, lead boots. “I have to wear them on account of my ailment,” said Mike, brushing his floppy brown hair back out of his eyes.

“What is it?” asked Marco...

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