Stumpy and the Decision Tree      by Thorold May
                     page twenty-two
The day grew warm and dull,
Dew dried on leaves, cars came then went,
An acrid smell of petrol steeped the air.
The flipperty girl was in a wicked mood,
A woman spurned -- the master gunner hadn't showed;
All men were bastards, she declared
And dropped a coffee cup in spite. Stumpy didn't move.

Hunched in a corner, obsessed with signs and portents,
He mumbled ifs and whats and buts,
Tore fragments from a paper napkin unaware;
A ragged field of mauve confetti blossomed with his doubts.
The old man's fallen off his bike, croaked Mrs Winchcock
Nodding wisely to the girl. She bought a pint of milk there every day
And claimed to be the younger Stumpy's flame from long ago.

…to be continued

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"Stumpy and the Decision Tree" copyrighted to Thorold May 2002; all rights reserved