cashier number two please. 

today in the post office a queue was growing during lunch hour in brixton. a man stood behind a red curtain trying to get a photo taken. we never saw his face. perhaps he was in a rush or the machine was broken that day. he had a baby tucked under his arm like a parcel wrapped in wool. it was lunch time rush at the post office so we all waited in a snaked line which criss-crossed across the shop. the baby made a slow noise like air being let from a balloon. the man raised a finger, the sound stopped. from behind the curtain we heard a kick. the machine might have been dented but he was behind the curtain so we could not see him. the baby grizzled and we heard a soft hitting sound, a repeated pillow-bag punch with a voice demanding silence and more crying and louder. it had been silent before. we all kept standing silent in our places in the line and listened. no one moved. someone near the front went to cashier number two. other babies in the line shook small animal toys placed above their head. mothers touched their faces distractedly and caught eyes with one other like in a secret club. finally a woman with a blue head scarf broke out of the line crossing to the red curtain in the corner. the man saw her coming and swore in her direction before turning a shoulder and moving off, the baby's head bouncing up and down all the way down the street behind him. we do not know his name.


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