Once, upon a weeknight dreary, as I went to close up Cleary’s
Thinking only of how rotten I felt, from the night before.
While I stood there, head a-rocking, suddenly, there came a knocking,
And I saw a lad in stockings standing at the shop’s locked door.
“Who is this guy?” I mumbled, “Knocking at the shop’s locked door?”
Some idiot; and nothing more.
Now remember, I was hanging and this unexpected banging
Was not the thing I needed coming to the shop’s locked door.
I’d been out ’til early dawning, and even still I was a-yawning,
So I could not think of pawning sleep, in favour of selling more.
I’ll ignore him, I thought wildly, locking up the storage door.
Only this, and nothing more.
But his knocking still persisted and, at last, my mind insisted,
Answer! Lest he attempt to break down the locked shop door!
For I knew, for all my pining, I would face a hefty fining
If my boss came in and found the thing lying on the floor;
And I was on a college budget — books and food I could afford —
But only these, and nothing more.
Hastily and hurried, very flustered and quite worried,
With the key I went to open locks that blocked the door.
And the fellow, he was gleeful; he had won and I was feeble
In my attempts to block his access to the shop beyond the door.
I did the least, but nothing more.
Back behind the counter turning, head still aching, stomach churning,
Regretting my foolish young-man antics of the night before,
While the lad goes off a-looking past homeware and ready-cooking
(Now my night was really sucking). “Hey mate,” he shouts. “Lenor?”
“We’re out,” I said, leaning back to recheck the storage door.
“We do have Bold, but nothing more.”
Then he came striding t’wards me, not an ounce of feeling for me,
Angrily demanding that I hand him some Lenor. So I faced him,
Head still pounding, and his voice betimes was sounding,
As though needles were surrounding my poor head, t’was really sore.
But only pain, nothing more.
I stood silent — he demanding that I check the back and standing
Leaning threateningly o’er — thinking he might rob the store.
So I roused myself to speaking, lest he set his mind to wreaking
Havoc, resulting in them finding my replacement at the store.
Suddenly a plan did strike me; a truly great one, burning brightly,
Entailing first that I unbond and get beyond the storage door.
This step the first of many more.
Eagerly I did beseech him, ask and beg and thus entreat him
To wait while I searched out a crate of sweet-smelling Lenor.
Thus persuaded, he then waited, while I ran and hid, elated
To escape what had been fated on that deserted shop floor:
Violence, blood, and perhaps more.
Now in storage, bent and hiding, then I gave myself a chiding
For allowing this man an after-hours entry to the store,
For if I had just been lazy, I would not have this crazy
Out there lounging and a-scrounging for a bottle of Lenor.
As it is, swift danger beckoned, once I unlocked the shop door.
That’s the truth, and nothing more.
“What’s going on?” he bellowed, and my spirit hardly mellowed
On hearing this man’s scream of rage beyond the storage door.
“Come in here,” I invited, for though I found him frightening,
My cunning plan was quickly ripening. “I’ve found the Lenor!”
In he saunters, stepping quickly, looking all about him swiftly,
Sees me pointing at a box way off the storage floor.
“Ah!” he says. “There’s Lenor!”
“I knew you had it!” he said, gleeful, then turned and, voice like treacle,
Apologised for the way he had behaved before. But though he might well
Try it, I was not about to buy it, for how could I
Trust a guy that flips out just about Lenor?
“We’ll need a ladder,” I said, proceeding with the scheme I’d planted,
“Hold on one sec, I left one in the corner of the store.”
There I left him. But there’s more.
Watching him with eyes alerted, I calmed my face and made concerted
Efforts to ensure that he suspected nothing more.
I backed out, in no hurry, keeping my eyes on my quarry.
When I escaped, all a-flurry, I shut and locked the storage door.
Then, beyond the door, a screaming, as he realised my deceiving;
It was beyond his wildest dreaming that I would lock the door.
But I did. And I did more.
Fishing out my phone, still frightened, but with future very brightened
By the fact that he remained locked behind the storage door,
Dialling now, with fingers shaking, feeling sick, and then just breaking
Into cold sweat and surely making, that I had locked the door.
“Hello?” I said, the call connected (thank God it was not rejected),
“I have locked a guy in here who’s trying to rob my store!
Bring ten guards! Maybe more!”
I hung up then, and when I ended, quiet once again descended
With an eerie total silence from the man behind the door.
Silently I stood and listened, and my skin all over glistened,
And then a mighty crash I heard beyond the storage door.
But just one crash. Nothing more.
Well, as you imagine, maybe I nearly crapped my pants.
But, of late, I don’t recall the state that they were in before.
I started running like the devil, or like a younger Philip Neville,
Not stopping ’til I came level with the now open, unlocked shop door.
There I stopped, and ran no more.
Peering out into the night, illumined only by moonlight,
With sweaty palm, I gripped the handle of the heavy wooden door,
Listening out for shrieking sirens of police cars, and writhing
At the sounds of him colliding with the bolted storage door.
I thought of running but, of course, the guards were coming
So I remained, drumming my fingers upon the open door,
Better that than to explore.
Then suddenly, I heard a breaking; the man’s pains, at last, were taking
Sufficient toll to cause escaping from beyond the storage door.
I lost my nerve and ran, kicking over empty cans, as I fled
The crazy psycho I had let into the store.
Heedless of all other feelings, then I slipped and I went reeling
On a patch of ice and cracked my head against the open door.
There I lay, and was no more.
The moral of this story, reader, if you don’t want to be a bleeder
Is never trust a man with late-night plan to buy Lenor.
And don’t even think of running for they’re really very cunning,
These creeping night-time psychos with
An all-consuming passion for Lenor.
Sean Larney is a writer and poet based in Dublin. He has had work published in Icarus and Northern Light. He is a fan of Edgar Allan Poe, whose poem ‘The Raven’ inspired this poem. Though indebted to him for said inspiration, Sean hopes to live a long happy life and avoid the same mysterious fate.