“Lights are out, the alarm is on.” (Duane Louma)

American Ways

by Duane Louma

Time to close again, two minutes past six, another day gone. I close every day, except sundays; a man needs to rest a little. Twenty six years, six days a week for twenty six years–closed sundays. I should check the back door, it might be unlocked… no, I know it’s locked, it’s always locked. Lights are out, the alarm is on. Oh yes, it’s all on or off, according to the way it should be, nothing is amiss. How could it be? Six days a week for twenty six years, I check the doors, lights, alarm, always I do this–twenty six years.

I’ll do the money now, not much today, not much anymore because of the supers. Eighty-eight dollars, opened with seventy-five-thirteen dollars, a lost thirteen dollars. I put in ten hours today for a lousy thirteen dollars. Six days a week for twenty six years and today I bring in thirteen dollars. It probably cost me more to keep the store open; ten hours and I lose money, what good is that? What’s the use? Spend my life trying to keep alive, six days a week, except sunday, for twenty six years; what’s the use?

Where that crayon! I know it’s in this box somewhere; here it is, good it’s black. A little wrapping paper, do it nice and neat; hope I have tape; use big letters to they can read it–NOW OPEN SUNDAYS.

“American Ways,” by Duane Louma originally published in Forum (1972, City College of San Francisco).

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