The Better Part of Valor

by Cleveland Wall

“I am robbing you,” the robber softly said,
his note a cipher to the cashier, wisp
of an impulse sketched in soft pencil,
paper rumpled soft like flannel. Sh.
“I am robbing you,” he said, wavering
fuzzy on the closed circuit screen.
No sound. No overt threat.
The cashier might have slipped him
her own note: “No, you’re not.”
Instead, she handed over soft bills
and crisp. He went his way and after,
the manager said, “I’m sorry”
to the waiting customers.
“We must close now. We have
been robbed.”
Go gently. Sh.
Go home, you seekers of snack foods
and cigarettes, and think about what
has happened and what has not.
You, sir, on your night-shift break—
put down your sandwich and go.
There is no supper for you here.
Quiet has stolen into this place—
nothing further to retail tonight.

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