250. Aftermath

We’ll be ridden out of town,
Tied to a rail. We’ll be
Tarred and feathered!
Not a pretty sight–
He’d seen it once.
Tom had been tensed and
Waiting, since the churching,
These past weeks;
And James was glum.

But lately it began
To dawn on Thomas:
The wave of crashing vengeance
Would not come.
Why? He could not reckon
That. The town knew
Riah’d gone out, and that
She had seen Louise, who
Still came by–
Riah walked with her,
In public,
When she pleased.

Riah, even so,
Was asked to poundings.
No more scoldings, warnings,
Came from Patty Hines.
Once again, Tom
Sat outside with all
The men. No smiles or glances–
No worse than before.
A sigh, relieved, content
Rose from the street:
He didn’t know how come,
But Thomas heard it.

*************************

Louise stepped in the door,
The Red and White.
No heads turned
To acknowledge she was there.
She walked straight through:
“I have a grocery order.”
The man nodded.
She handed him a slip.
He built a pile in silence,
Moving quickly back and forth
From shelf to counter.
Six potatoes. Onions, four.
A sack of flour.
He finished stacking.
And he stood and stared.

Louise’s color changed.
“That will be all, thank you.
No more. Quite all”–
She found herself, of late,
Repeating words
And adding comments,
Stretching phrases
Just to fill space,
Kill dead air.

Someone in line
Behind her:
Jeanette. “Say,” Louise
Turned and asked: “How’re you
Fixed for lilac soap, that
Brand you like?  Good time
To renew your order.
I’d let them go, half price,
For half a dozen.”
Jeanette did not reply.

“That’s under wholesale!” Louise
Said, astonished.
“Dealer’s cost…” her voice
Was trailing off.
“Half price.”
The store was listening.
She waited.
She gathered up her groceries.
She walked out.

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