We’ll call you fifteen minutes before heading
your place, the man on the phone says.
Two new recliners, replacing the old couch,
full of ancient dust and stories, will soon be
the beloved in our living room.
All day I wait for his call. No call. When the twilight
vanishes from the junipers, I close the little gate, draw
the curtains, retire to my room, and read the paper:
A delivery man killed an elderly woman for money…
The phone jingles, splintering the silence in the house.
We’ll be there in twenty minutes, ma’am, says the gruff voice.
He hung up, cutting my urgent plea, come tomorrow.
I look outside the window across the dark street at
the neighbor’s unlit window. The couple must be
in bed by now.
What if…? I shudder at the possible horror, while
alone. He won’t return tonight.
I brave calling the neighbor and tell her the situation.
We’ll watch for you. Her voice, sisterly.
Her window re-lit.
A big van’s headlight creeps up at the corner
of the street, pulls up in front of my house.
Swung out of the van is a short, dark man, followed
by a tall, young man, their faces blurry in the dim light.
The way they lumber toward me menacing enough;
they could be bad wolves, pretending delivery men.
Neighbor’s dark silhouette in the window, assures me.
When, finally, in the light, they reveal their faces,
I sigh; they don’t look like thugs. But thugs don’t
look like thugs, do they?
Calming my heart, I say, are you boys usually work
Yes, ma’am. Sorry for the late delivery.
They strut back to the van and bring the chairs out,
put them in my living room, and say,
Have a goodnight, ma’am.
Have a goodnight, you two.
As the van leaves, I wave to the neighbor in the window.
Our smiles, two floating stars, lost in the dark night.
©Byung A. Fallgren