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Motives by Richard Fein
published in Volume 5, Issue 2 on June 1st, 1998

I wouldn't have done it.
Like me he probably haunted
those drifter, bus terminal hotels where:
maniac drunks charge doors
their hunched shoulders used as battering rams,
or winos puke in the halls,
or the trash steeped in the alleyways decides to burn.
Then you really need the shoes on your feet,
no time to fidget with the laces.
Even if there isn't any crash, stench, or smoke,
there are always the cockroaches nesting everywhere.

But why he took them off in a barroom full of people
I'll never know; I wouldn't have.
Simply as everyone else did, I moved away.
But not fat man.
"Your feet stink, your feet stink."
He didn't answer fat man.
He didn't even raise his slumped head.
The rest of us pretended to study the bottom of our beer mugs.
"Your feet stink, your feet stink."
He didn't answer fat man.
A rouge of rage colored fat man's face.
Fat man whipped out a gun, pointed it, still
he didn't answer or even move except
to run his finger around the rim of a whiskey glass.
The gun cracked, the bullet whistled
and his bloody head plopped on the counter.

Fat man fled; we all exhaled,
then quickly followed one another out the door,
going our separate ways,
not wanting to explain anything to the law.
Alone, I picked my way
through a carpet of sleeping drunks,
walking, walking, walking, till I saw a park
and collapsed under a palm tree.
Nearby was a fancy L.A. hotel
and in front a fountain lit by colored lights that made
the gushing water seem so still
as if it were a snapshot or
a fluff of red cotton candy.
I took off my shoes to cool my feet.
"Christ, it was so lousy hot."

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