South Central Los Angeles, 1975

by Marc Swan

There’s no gunshot or mayhem
just the thought raging like wildfire
inside my head. He’s an older man
just released from Atascadero. We
drew straws in the lunchroom to see
who would meet him. My small office
is dimly lighted, my choice, the cabinet
to my left full of cases of men, women
in need of help. Help. He listens to my
spiel limited funding, lack of available
resources. I watch his dark eyes narrow,
his hand holding the cane he walked in
with tightens around the shaft. His eyes
follow my eyes to the door, no window,
just a closed door. Before I reach the
waiting list, he draws a slender finely
honed sword from his cane and lays
it across my desk. I’m not in a hurry,
he says, I’ll wait to get what I need.