This week's prompt was: Write a story inspired by this situation: There’s a break-in at a character's house. The robbers took everything—money, couch, clothes—except for one odd item that they left right in the middle of the character's living room.
Ralph left the bar, walking almost steadily after imbibing more than his usual three beers. He pulled his plaid workingman's jacket tighter around himself as the cold November wind made itself felt. He had been sadly 'celebrating' the win by the Republicans with his buddies; all of them staunch Democrats. It had not been a cheerful celebration. His work injury compensation cheque wouldn't cover much beer but he'd still had twice his usual amount.
Reaching the dilapidated gateway to his run-down rooming house, he turned in with only a small wobble and climbed the creaky wooden steps to the front porch. He had his key in hand and quickly inserted it in the lock. It worked first try, something unusual since it usually gave him a hard time.
As the door swung open, creaking loudly on long unoiled hinges, the slightly ajar door of Mrs. Wilson's room revealed one of her big eyes looking out at him. Usually she would quickly shut her door once she saw who had come in; not this time. This time she opened the door, raised one hand toward him and opened her mouth as though to speak to him. Then, changing her mind, she withdrew her hand and quietly closed her door.
Wondering what that was all about, he went on down the hall to his room. Opening the door, he reached in and flipped the light switch on. Stunned, he stepped back and checked the number painted on the old wooden door; yup, his room alright. He stepped back in and looked around at barren emptiness.
From where he stood, just inside the door, he could see into the tiny 'kitchenette' and the even smaller bathroom of this 'bachelor apartment' that ate up half of his monthly income. It was completely empty. Nothing remained of his possessions or the furniture he'd slowly collected over the three years he'd lived here.
All gone..... Except two little loops of leather strap. Sitting right in the middle of the floor. He slowly bent and picked them up. He didn't recognize them even though they looked somewhat familiar. Without thinking about them further he slipped them into his pocket.
His first thought was that he had been evicted. But he'd always paid his rent on time and never partied or otherwise made any trouble for the landlord, so that didn't seem right.
The landlord! That's who he needed to talk to. The landlord lived in another of his houses just down the block. Ralph turned, left the door open and light on, and headed back down the hall toward the front dooor. Mrs. Wilson's door was wide open now and she called out to him.
"Ralph?" Her voice had a questioning tone.
"Yes, Mrs. Wilson?" he got out in a croaking voice, "what is it?"
"I saw them," she whispered, "I saw them take your things. I wanted to ask them why they were doing that but I was frightened. They seemed so important with their lovely suits and all."
He stopped as though he'd hit a wall. "Saw them? Saw who? Who took my stuff? Do you know who they were?"
She nodded her head slowly as though afraid that it would fall off if she moved it more vigorously, "Yes," she managed to say. "Yes I know who they were." His eyes questioned her as he waited for her to continue. "They were Repubicans," she said.
His puzzlement almost turned to laughter. "Really? Republicans huh? And how would you know that?"
"They told me. They left me a message to give you." Ralph's curiosity got the best of him.
"A message," he asked? "What message?"
"Did you find something on your floor?"
"No"..... "Oh!" he said, remembering the two little pieces of leather, "why yes, I did. Do you know what they are? And what's the message you have?
Mrs. Wilson took a deep breath, "They cut them off your work boots. They said to tell you that you, and all damned freeloading Democrats, were going to have to be "Real Americans" now. Your injury pension is cut off, they said. You have to start from nothing and pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. No more free ride."
They left you your bootstraps.......