Sunday, September 15, 2019



He was a “can do” sort of guy.
Ex-military.  West Point.
Clean shaven, and with the
“high and tight.”  All that.
And yes, he did walk 
as though he had the proverbial 
“stick up his ass.”

He’d fly in every couple of months
and walk the aisles of the warehouse,
chatting with the rank and file
about safe subjects,
things he’d gleaned about us
through casual conversation.

Since I had no kids,
and no interest in NASCAR,
football, or politics,
he had a tougher time with me.

And on that day I cringed
when I saw him turn the corner
and head towards me.

After I’d shrugged 
and mumbled my way through
several questions, he asked,
“What’s the matter?”

I took a chance. 
You never knew...
maybe he had an answer.

“I’m depressed.” I said.

His brow furrowed, 
deeper than any brow
I’d seen before,
and probably since.

“You’re depressed?”

I nodded.

He stared at me for a moment longer,
like Kafka’s cockroach,
or as though
I’d just sprouted a second head
from the side of my neck,
then did a crisp about face,
and marched off.

I listened as the click of his heels
vanished into the low buzz
of the overhead lights.

Then I hopped back
on my forklift,
laid my head
on the steering wheel,
and wondered how many hours
O.T. today...

how many
til that first drink.

--Brian Rihlmann

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