The Brave, the Bold, the Battered – By Daniel W. Davis
Short Stories Of The Week / April 13, 2010

He wasn’t surprised that it still stood. There was no reason the building shouldn’t have been condemned and destroyed—all the windows were busted, the brick walls were crumbling, the doors were dented or knocked off their hinges. The floors inside were probably full of holes. Any wood remaining had to be rotted through by now. The building had stood empty for twenty years and looked it. Yet he’d known it would still be there. He had seen it in his dream just last month, not as it stood now but as it had stood in his childhood, regal and bustling with life. Brown’s Shoe Company, the heart of Coles County, the single largest employer in all of Central Illinois. There had been three separate factories in the area, but this one had been the backbone of it all. And Keating’s grandfather had started the whole thing. Pride. He’d felt it then and he felt it now. He hadn’t in the time between, those twenty years he spent out in the world making a name for himself in one business after another. This town had been a crutch, an anchor weighing him down. He’d fled to Chicago to escape it, then…