Noir: Closing Time

The crates are all gone. I have a vague impression of hands grabbing cans and bottles. Were they my hands? I sweep the loading dock and my side of the stockroom. I clean the windows of the receiving booth, and sharpen the pencils in its desk. At last the lights blink off and on.

Now she’s got to go home. I hurry up the stairs. The frosted glass windows of Vincenzo’s double doors are mostly dark; yellow light leaks in from the room to the right. I knock firmly on the right-hand door.

I hear murmurs; bedsprings creaking; a shuffling sound. Vincenzo opens the door. His face is puffy; his bare legs stick out of his terrycloth robe. “It’s closing time,” I tell him. “Come down and get the cash, so the kids can go home.”

He rubs his sleeve across his eyes; “All righ’.” He starts forward.

Gently I push him back. “Get dressed,” I coax.

He totters off into the gloom. Colored lights pulse through the fire escape window. A distant siren wails. It should come over here; but it doesn’t know I’m dying.

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