The Retired Break-and-Enter Man’s Last Act
by J. J. Steinfeld

When was the last time he had plied his trade,
the elderly man thought as he left his apartment
no longer with ambition or aspiration
the cancellation of sanity and reality
achieved a few months ago without ceremony
this elderly man who barely made a sound
during seven decades of rustling through
all the noise and commotion around him
was noticed by the young woman
who lived on his floor in a building
that would have been inconspicuous
in another century or country
but now attracted those that favoured
the rearranging if not outright cancellation
of sanity and reality

polite to a fault, perfecting courteousness,
never married, friendless, fearful of words,
the briefest of conversations, head downcast,
sometimes a slight knowing smile
sure he had spent time in confinement
but he always rebounded, mystic resilience
the new names helped—thirteen in seventy years
good or bad luck, not that he was superstitious,
believing you make your luck, create yourself,
a B-and-E artist as he liked to think of himself
when he was younger and owned the town

she a worn twenty looking thirty, sobbing,
locked herself out of her apartment, her life,
he stopped by her door and with deft movements
opened it for her, the artistry reclaimed
her tears abated, offering a hug
that felt like all the love in the world
she asked how he had done that saving magic trick

and with that slight knowing smile
he whispered, a lifetime of experience,
his heart turning on him in trickery
before he could devise a new name.