The leg irons were part of everyday life. The residents
of Shackleburg had always worn them, or so it seemed. No
one alive could remember a time when the heavy, iron,
key-holed bands joined by a thick chain could not be found
around the calloused ankles of Shackleburg residents. They
just accepted them, the same as they accepted moles or
brown hair or bad weather. Shackles were a fact of life that
couldn't be changed.
Shackleburgers all walked with small, shuffling steps,
for the chains were short and didn't allow long strides.
Pants were such that they fastened along the inseam and up
the crotch, so that folks could easily remove them. The
shackles wouldn't allow pants to be slid on from the ankles.
Games were played among the young, but action wasn't
very fast. Quick movements were few, for obvious reasons.
Many games involved use of the hands primarily with little
locomotion. Upper body development was often
disproportionate to lower body development, especially
among athletes. Many Shackleburg residents appeared top
The citizens of Shackleburg performed the duties of
everyday, including bathing (showers, not baths) and
driving (vehicles were guided and powered mostly with
hand controls), without complaining. They had been about
this encumbered way of life for some time now and barely
noticed the difficulties of activities involving their legs.
They accepted their plight, getting along as best they could
in their condition. Despite their limited movement, people
worked and played without even thinking about the irons.
On occasion, they would find themselves in situations
where legs that were free to move would indeed make
things a great deal easier. In those situations, they usually
forced a chuckle or a smile and continued on with their
Every so often, one of the uppity younger citizens
would begin to ask questions, pointed questions, about the
leg irons. Questions like, "Who started this whole shackle
thing, anyway?" and "Wouldn't life be easier without
them?" and "Aren't keyholes for keys?" Such questioners
were usually put in their places by the elders, who lectured
them on tradition and "accepting one's lot in life." Good
citizens shouldn't talk about such "new-fangled ideas."
Such talk only got people upset.
On rare occasions, some would even go so far as to try
to remove the shackles, but they just didn't have the tools
for performing such a task. The irons were indeed a burden
for everyone in the town. Citizens dealt with their shackles
in different ways. Some would try to drown their
frustrations in drink, others sought companionship, others
stayed busy at their jobs. But in the quiet of night, on their
beds, the citizens in repose would hear the metallic click as
they sought comfortable positions, and the sadness was
sometimes unbearable. Deep inside, they knew the chains
should be removed, but they lacked the ability to do so, and
so, in private, they would often shed tears over their
situation, sometimes weeping themselves into slumber.
Some tried to embrace the shackles by polishing or
painting them. Available for purchase were leg iron
accessories, like waterproof covers to prevent rust, and
personalized, engraved plates to affix to the ankle bands.
There were even charms to hang from the chain links. None
of these made the irons easier to wear. Often, the
accessories only reminded the wearer just what a burden the
One particularly warm summer, rumors began
circulating through Shackleburg that a key had been found.
Reports came from the south side of town that people had
been seen walking without leg irons. Many dismissed such
a story as wishful thinking or a hoax. Many "keys" had been
found in the history of Shackleburg, all of them later shown
to be ineffective at unlocking the irons. Still, many held out
hope that, at last, a true key existed. Some suspected that
there indeed was a key; they just weren't sure where to look
One day during that summer, around noon, a stranger
entered town. Around his neck, on a string, hung an iron
object. It looked remarkably like a key. The stranger
walked, not shuffled, through town, with un-calloused
ankles. No metallic clink could be heard as he strolled
down the main avenue, greeting all the wide-eyed,
open-mouthed, trembling faces with a solemn smile.
Romans 3:24 (NLT)
"Yet now God in his gracious
kindness declares us not
guilty. He has done this
through Christ Jesus, who
has freed us by taking away
[ by Stephen F. Pizzini (firstname.lastname@example.org) -- from 'Daily Wisdom' -- Ed:anon. ]
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