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chain of coincidence
Photography by helen dixon

chain of coincidence

by Rex Butters rex butters
Enjoy Art | Poetry

she back bedroom

land line dials information

try to find local tai chi classes


5 blocks away looks good

I living room hang

with Bogart, Lorre, Cook, and Greenstreet

walk bright sad San Francisco streets

once more

enter the Falcon Maze

sharp hard door knock startle

I see a dark uniform

brown eyes shaded

legs apart

hand rests on holstered

gun butt

door opens

to no nonsense lady cop

hands on belt

another officer


to her right

up two stairs

their positions imply


standing here

old, tired, bald, and near sighted

I’m perceived as a threat

“hi” I say “can I help you?”

“we got a 911 call

from this address

the caller hung up

in cases like this

we need to come in

and take a look around.”

“you know what?” I say

“you probably want

the place across the street

I heard you guys were over there

last week

you get a lot of business

from them”

the trio tenses

“sir” she says unimpressed,

“we need to come in

and take a look around.”

21st century America

she stands on the worn

door mat

but it might as well be

the Constitution

“there’s no one here

but me and my wife

and I’m just watching

a movie”

I say pointing

to the paused image

of bullying police outside

black and white Bogart’s apartment

him blocking the doorway

and then I instantly

regret it

“what’s going on?” Monica asks

walking out the bedroom

I explain it

“see?” I tell

the even less impressed

public servant

“it’s just us

and we didn’t call.”

she demands entry

a third time

“sure” I say “c’mon in”

gun guy stands

in the door way

she coldly watches us

third officer sweeps the scene

“all clear” he says

“OH, you know what?” Monica asks

“I was trying to get information

on the phone

and I think I dialled 911

instead of 411

I get them confused

when I realized my mistake

I hung up

I didn’t want to bother

you guys”

l o n g

p a u s e


by the stern lady officer

“what were you looking up?” she asks

“local tai chi studios” she replies

I wanted more information about

the program at InFocus”

“the place at Lincoln and Broadway?”

the 3rd cop asks

“yeah, you know them?”

“oh yeah, I’ve know him for years

we’ve trained together

he’s great

actually we’re old friends

the real deal, you should

definitely study

with him”

“perfect” she says

“thanks for the information”

“sure, looks like you dialled

the right number

after all”

gun guy and the iron lady


glare hard

at their partner

jaws clenched

“I didn’t know

you studied tai chi”

gun guy said

“oh yeah” he said

“in this job

you need something

to help you


to me


his job

doesn’t seem that


the lady cop

may have

rolled her shaded eyes

“ok, in the future

if you dial 911

by mistake

just stay on the line”

walking out

she still scowl/frown/glares

at cop 3

“she doesn’t remember it”

Monica says

walking back

to the bedroom

to the phone

“but I massaged her once-

lotta neck and shoulder


she nods




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