Behind Me in Line

by Mary Shanley

She had a bobbed nose.
I recognized the tell-tale
incision scars around
her nostrils. She wore
an excess amount
of copper colored
face powder.
When I caught a brief
glimpse of her full face,
I could see that her nose
was pushed down
and to the right;
crushed like a prize fighter.
It was my turn to check out
and the tall, silver haired
cashier with the “Steve”
name badge, asked me
cheerfully “Where are you from?
Australia, maybe?” “Yeah, close,
I laughed, answering with a bit
of an edge. “New York City
is more like it.”
The woman with the bobbed nose
chimed in, “Oh yeah? I’m from
New York City.” So we got into
a conversation about neighborhoods.
She was from a penthouse on Riverside
and eighty-seventh and I did a short stint
in a commune on Riverside and seventy-
Eighth. We chatted about the days
when Zabars was a single deli, specializing
in black bread. When I told her how Zabar’s
had expanded to four stores, her heavy lidded
brown eyes opened wide. She looked interested
and alive before her gaze retreated into
a downward angle, which prevented any soul
reading on my part.
While Steve was packing my order, I asked,
“What brought you to Vegas?” She said her husband
had been a successful landowner and wanted to try
and increase their fortune in the Vegas gambling
business. “It didn’t work out,” she said. I shook
my head.
When I turned to collect my packages, I noticed
she was hoisting two half gallons of vodka
put of her shopping cart. When she walked past
the bank of cashiers with a half-gallon in each
hand, she paused to light a cigarette and toss
a few quarters into the poker slots. “I’m trying
my luck with the slots myself,” I said. When
I looked over at her, she managed a weary smile.

 

___

Artist: Romare Bearden

Mary Shanley is a poet/writer who lives in NYC. Four of her books have been published: Hobo Code Poems by Vox Pop Press and Mott Street Stories and Las Vegas Stories, Things They Left Behind by Sidestreet Press. I publish online at: Long Shot Magazine, BlazeVOX, Ginosko Literary Journal, Indicia, Literary Heist, The Metaworker, Mobius, Modern Literature Magazine, Pangolin Review, Poetry Super Highway, Quail Bell Magazine The Voices Project, Visitant, Taj Mahal Review, Pif Literary Journal, Vita Brevis, Poesis Literary Journal, Radius Literary Journal, Voice of Eve, Mr. Bellers’s Neighborhood, Blue Lake Review, Logos Journal, Hobo Camp Review, StepAway Magazine, Anak Sastra Journal, Shangra-la Magazine.

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