Chatham trudged in the Logan security line. His new shoes nudged the shined shoes of the balding man with a blackberry pasted to his ear. The man shot him an evil glance. Chatham swallowed and stepped backwards tripping over the toe of his other shoe and falling against the woman behind him. He muttered apologies and thought that at least there was one benefit to the long lines.
Glancing at his watch, Chatham was glad his father's girlfriend had dropped him at the airport well before his plane's departure. He shook his head. They hadn't clicked. She'd only done it as a favor to Chatham's father and because she worked downtown and traveled through the underground warren on her way to work.
The line moved faster once the TSA agent had checked Chatham's license and he waddled forward to avoid tripping over his shoes. Chatham dropped his backpack on the conveyor belt.
Another agent, a full head taller than Chatham and built like a comic book hero, grabbed one of the backpack's straps. "You got a computer?"
Chatham shook his head.
Chatham shook his head again and stepped towards the x-ray scanner. The toe of his foot bounced off the side of his other shoe.
The TSA agent grabbed Chatham's arm. "Where you going?"
Chatham's chin jiggled as he swallowed and pointed at the x-ray machine.
"You're standing in a no shoe zone. All shoes must go through the scanner."
Chatham's hand jerked at his side. "Can't take shoes off."
"Your mom still dress you?" Someone in the security line laughed at the TSA agent's slur.
"It's for our good. I must not remove my shoes." The boy stared at the speckled floor.
"I decide what is good and secure. That's my job. Not yours." The agent's arm shook as he pushed Chatham against the belt that led to the scanners.
The crowd of people waiting to go through security pressed forward to compress into a single blurring blob. Someone yelled, "What's the holdup? I'm going to miss my flight."
The agent turned to Chatham and tapped a finger against his own chest. "You listen to me. I'm in charge here and good is no one getting through security without my guaranteeing their safety." The agent pointed at Chatham's shoes. "All shoes are removed, not just yours. Those size seventeen --"
"Don't interrupt me, boy. Those shoes are too large for you and look suspicious. I'm in charge here. You better listen to me."
"I can't take off my shoes."
The agent's lips quivered. He pointed at the gates and shouted, "You see that? If you don't take off your shoes, you ain't flying."
Chatham's head drooped and he began to turn. He needed his mother for the banishment and knew she would be disappointed when he didn't return home, but he couldn't take off his shoes.
"No, you can't just leave." The TSA agent grabbed Chatham's arm and waved to one of his coworkers. "We'll need to ask you some questions." The agent unlocked a doorway to the side of the security checkpoint and left Chatham sitting on a chair. The door clicked shut behind the TSA agent.
Chatham wiggled in the chair, his feet feeling uncomfortable. His shoes writhed and for a moment the tongue pressed upwards from the shoe and exposed a red-skinned demon tied with iron chains to Chatham's foot. Not a great binding and one that the demon could escape if he removed his shoes. He needed his mother who could banish the beast.