So, first, a little background on the phenomenon that is Shoe Shine Bear.
My dad, brother and I were in an antiques shop in downtown Beaufort, NC without my mom, which is more or less a guarantee that something incredibly stupid and/or unnecessary will be coming home with us. On this particular outing we managed to stumble across the thing which I am convinced will eventually be proven the Most Haunted Thing I have ever encountered. Sitting at about 10 inches tall, Shoe Shine Bear is a relic of that age where everyone somehow confused “whimsical” and “adorable” with “bone-chillingly terrifying” and “dead-eyed demi-demon.” He’s got a special quality to him; if you stare at him long enough you could start to believe that his corn-cob pipe and slight smirk make him a genuinely fun accent and not at all evil, but the second you avert your gaze you’ll be somehow filled with conviction that he’s somehow moved slightly and the vicious cycle begins again.
We had to have him.
I was the one that made the strongest case for him, mostly as a social experiment to see how deep my power to make my dad make unwise purchases ran, but it was a done deal when I discovered a switch on the side of Shoe Shine Bear’s metal perch; he would click to life, alternately rubbing his two shining brushes together and exhaling a tiny puff of (most likely asbestos-ridden) smoke from his tiny pipe. I could physically see my dad’s resolve weakening behind his eyes as the bear emitted puff after puff of nostalgia-ridden smoke. Finally,
“I’ll make you a deal,” he told me.
The deal was this: if he purchased the little, possibly demon-ridden creature and brought it home with us, I would have to write a story about him. My dad was often engaging in little bets like this, probably sensing that my writing was the only skill I possessed that even approached marketable and hoping that by strengthening it I would potentially not have to wind up starving to death in my mid 20s.
I took him up on the offer, several times over. Turns out, my dad is one of those guys that is notoriously hard to shop for, but one thing he never has come birthday season is a short story starring a miniature bear that is living in his basement and will most likely eventually lead to his grisly demise under mysterious circumstances.
And thus, the saga of Shoe Shine Bear was started.
Having been fully informed on Shoe Shine Bear’s background, you can read of his exploits here.