It is a cold windy day in Chicago Illinois and a fourteen year old African American boy is about to start his first day at work.
The year is 1950 and Calvin Jackson is excited to be following in his grandfathers footsteps.
His grandfather Melvin has been shining shoes for over fifty years.
But now his health isn’t the best so he has decided to pass on his skills to his favourite grandson.
Calvin has been living with his grandparents for most of his life.
His mother abandoned him soon after he was born and his father didn’t want anything to do with him.
So Calvin was raised by his loving grandparents.
Calvin loves his grandparents dearly and they love him like a son.
They brought him up to treat people with respect and to do the right thing.
But Calvin hasn’t been completely honest with them.
He has a secret.
Since he can remember he has had the ability to touch and object belonging to someone and sensing that persons thoughts and feelings.
He can see into their very soul.
Calvin has never told anybody about this ability.
He doesn’t want people to know because they might think that he is some sort of freak or something.
Plus it isn’t easy being African American this Calvin learnt from an early age.
So he keeps his eyes down and minds his own business.
He knows that he has a special talent but all he wants right now is to make his grandfather proud.
So when his grandfather wakes him and tells him that it is time for breakfast.
Calvin jumps out of bed and eats his bacon and eggs excited about the day ahead.
Then he follows his grandfather out the door.
They catch a train to Melvin’s shoeshine stand just outside the subway.
The perfect spot to catch people on their way to work.
Calvin watches as his grandfather arranges his brushes and clothes ready for his first customer.
Melvin Jackson is the best shoeshine man in all of Chicago.
Calvin sits near his grandfather and watches his every move as he polishes and shines shoes to a high gloss.
Melvin is in his element as shines shoes and chats to his regular customers.
Then it is Calvin’s turn.
Melvin hands him the brush and takes a seat and settles down to read the newspaper with one eye and the other on his grandson.
When Calvin touches the brush he is glad to feel that his grandfather is happy and looking forward to his retirement.
Where he will spend his time building model trains and getting under the feet of his loving wife.
Calvin is nervous when his first customer takes his seat at the shoeshine stand.
But he is a natural as he shines shoes it is like he has been doing it for years.
When he touches the shoes he doesn’t feel anything untoward or threatening and the customer leaves a good tip and goes on his way.
His next customer takes a seat and precedes to tell Calvin his life story.
Calvin smiles and nods his head in all the right times to keep his customer happy.
Because the number one rule in the shoeshine business is to ensure that the customer leaves satisfied with the service.
Because then he will come back again and again.
Calvin’s first few weeks on the job pass without incident.
He shines the shoes of all comers whether it is a lawyer thinking about his day in court.
A businessman thinking about how to close a deal or just your average joe on his way to another work day.
Then a month later an ordinary man takes a seat and Calvin decides to try something different.
So he grasps a shoelace like he is holding a rosary bead and his fingers feel for good or bad vibrations.
And he looks deep inside the customer soul looking for anything sinister or worse.
Calvin smiles and says ‘good morning’ and gets to work.
But as soon as his fingers grasp one of the laces he is almost jolted back out of his seat.
His pulse quickens and he starts to sweat.
This guy is trouble.
Calvin acts like nothing is amiss and keeps on shining as he gazes deeper into the soul.
The customer is oblivious to the intrusion as Calvin goes about his business.
There is trouble at home.
Calvin delves even deeper and the customer starts to squirm in his seat ‘What are you doing boy?’
Calvin looks into the mans eyes and replies ‘Whatever the trouble you are having at home can all be worked out’
‘Get some marriage guidance or get a divorce but don’t take a life because you are unhappy’
None of Calvin’s words are spoken out loud they are spoken from soul to soul.
Calvin just hopes that his words have sunk in and that the man will go home and sort out his problems.
Calvin finishes his shining and the free advice and the man stands up and pulls out his wallet and hands Calvin a crisp one dollar bill.
‘Thanks boy I don’t know what you did but I feel like a weight has been lifted from my body’
With that he walks away.
Over the next few months Calvin deals with all sorts of normal and troubled souls.
And he does his best to shine shoes and to give some friendly unspoken advice.
And he does it all with a smile on his face and goes home satisfied but tired.
He didn’t realise that shining shoes would be so mentally draining.
But when you look deep into troubled souls it takes a lot out of you.
And he has trouble sleeping because his mind never shuts down.
All that Calvin wanted was to make his grandfather proud and be the best shoeshine boy in the neighbourhood.
But he now knows that he has become more than that.
He is now a soothsayer a soul healer for the common man.
But it is all starting to become too much.
Over the weekend doesn’t know if he can carry on or not so he visits his grandfather and tells him of his special ability and how it is starting to mess with his mind.
Melvin looks at him like he is the second coming of Christ and tells Calvin that he has been given a gift and that he should he should carry on helping people if he can.
So first thing Monday morning Calvin jumps out of bed packs his bag and goes to work.
Calvin loves to shine shoes and help people in need.
He is what he is.
Gary Wayne Debois is a serial killer.
But today he isn’t thinking about killing all he wants is to eat some breakfast and get his shoes shined.
Then he can get down to business the business of killing.
He remembers an old man and his shoeshine stand outside of the train station so he heads towards the subway.
And when he arrives he is greeted by a teenage negro boy waiting for his first customer of the day,
Debois tells the boy that the last time that he was here an old man shined his shoes and Calvin explains that that was his grandfather who is now retired.
Debois says ‘D o the family proud boy ‘ and takes a seat not knowing that the shoeshine boy is about to look into his soul and beyond.
When the man is comfortable Calvin starts rubbing with his cloth and takes hold of a lace.
He looks deep into the mans soul but doesn’t see a thing.
It is like looking into a bottomless pit.
Calvin closes his eyes and once again he tries to enter the belly of the beast.
But again he sees nothing but black like riding a train through a tunnel to hell.
Then Calvin is brought back to reality when he is kicked in the head ‘What the fuck are you doing boy? Just shine my shoes and make it fucking snappy’
Calvin shines as fast as he can so this man can get out of his life.
He knows that he is dealing with a very dangerous individual so he finishes quickly and with his head bowed waits for his tip.
Debois stands up throws a coin on the ground at Calvin’s feet and walks away muttering obscenities.
A few weeks later Calvin is shining the shoes of a customer when Debois comes back and he grabs hold of the customer and tells him to get out of his way.
He takes a seat and tells Calvin to ‘Hurry the fuck up I haven’t got all fucking day’
Calvin gets to work and once again tries to enter the mans soul but again he is denied.
Than Calvin has an idea if he can somehow take the mans laces home maybe he can look into the soul without being in the mans presence.
Hey mister both of your laces are just about worn out I can replace them both free of charge’
Calvin looks up into the mans face with hope ‘Well what are you fucking waiting for boy?’
Calvin quickly changes the laces and the man goes on his way.
Riding the subway home Calvin can feel the weight of the laces in his pocket.
He touches them and searches for the mans inner being.
He gets in but the connection is weak.
The man is driving down the highway and he has just picked up a female hitch hiker.
Unfortunately for Calvin his train is travelling in the opposite direction to the mans car and the connection is broken.
Calvin arrives home with his mind in turmoil he paces back and forth in his room wondering what to do.
Then he sits on his bed and unties his laces and attaches them to the mans laces
Maybe there will be some sort of connection?
And there is it is like watching a silent movie.
Calvin now knows who he is dealing with Gary Wayne Debois is a serial killer who the police have been trying to catch for over a decade.
He has been linked to over twenty murders.
But Calvin can see that the number is closer to fifty.
Calvin notices that the girl has her hands tied behind her with the same laces that Calvin tied to the mans shoes a few hours ago.
So hopefully his aura is still attached to them.
Maybe just maybe.
Calvin grips his laces tight concentrates and whispers into the girls ear and smiles when her eyes open in shock ‘My name is Calvin and I am here to try and help you.I am going to try to loosen the laces binding your hands nod your head if you understand”
The frightened girl slowly nods her head.
Calvin closes his eyes and grips his laces even tighter and the girl starts to wriggles in the car seat ‘Try not to move too much or the man will know that something is up when the laces are loose nod your head’
And once again the girl nods her head.
OK now tell the man that you have to go to the bathroom real bad’
Calvin can see the girl talking to the man but Debois gives her a backhander and tells her to ‘Shut the fuck up bitch we are almost at your final resting place but I am going to have a little fun first.
The girl is scared out of her wits and her urine flows down her legs and the smell hits Debois’s nose.
‘Why you filthy bitch” he pulls the car near an abandoned building and drags her from the car by her hair.
From his pocket he pulls out a knife exposes the girls throat and is about to cut her open from ear to ear.
The girl desperately rakes at the mans face with her nails and it gives Calvin a few vital seconds.
He knows that it is now or never he wasn’t able to enter the mans soul but maybe he can enter his heart.
Calvin closes his eyes and squeezes the laces and squeezes hard on the mans heart.
And as Debois and the girl struggle Calvin squeezes one last time and Debois grabs his chest and falls to the ground dead.
The girl whispers ‘Thank You ” to Calvin who falls asleep completely exhausted.
Two days later at the city morgue a body is lying on a gurney when a foot starts to twitch.
Then the man sits up and takes in his surroundings and he smiles.
Gary Wayne Debois is alive and well and he only has one thing on his mind.