Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Adventures in Smoking pt. 2

A cigarette machine was magic because maybe you could sneak away from Mom and Dad just long enough to plonk in three quarters, pull that plastic puller and hear the whoosh of the cellophaned pack shooting down the chute to land right there for the taking by your illegal, little hands. You’d grab it furtively, looking over your shoulder, and tuck it in the waist of your pants, above your cock, so your shirt would drop down to hide the bulge.

Now you’re home and the thing is more or less safely in your possession, in your bedroom, right there on your bed. You didn’t have much time to think when you bought ‘em but here’s what you chose: Camels, unfiltered. Camels because there’s something about them, the pyramid on the front, the letters. Not like Winstons or Kents. Unfiltered because why would you to let anything come between you and this experience?

When to smoke was another problem. You couldn’t light up in your room, blow it out your window. For sure they’d know. You know someday you’ll take them to a friend’s house and share them in the woods, something like that. But you want one now. It’s snowing outside, piling up.

You offer to shovel the back porch and the stairs down to the yard. Mom’s a bit surprised, but pleased. And in the glow of her gratitude, almost as though she gave her blessing, you bring out a pack of matches and a cigarette. You hold them in the bottom of the pocket of your coat, not afraid they’ll fly away really but just wanting to hold them. To feel the pulse of their illicit power in your hand.

Outside you shovel, shovel, shovel, long enough to establish that you’re really shoveling and then you stop. Down a step or three on the stairs, mostly out of view. You pull one out and put it between your lips and take out the matches, tremblingly, and make two false starts before a spark flies and the thing is lit, and you protect the nascent flame, you bring it to the tip, and draw in the fire then the smoke. Glorious, sweet, poisonous smoke. You discard the match and it hisses in the snow.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Adventures in Smoking pt. 1

Across the pub the green sloped down gently and there were benches where you could bring your pint, and possibly a little pond. My sister and brother-in-law sat there with theirs as I approached with my shandy. He wore his biker leather jacket and lit a cigarette.

“Here. You want to try it?” he said. Like a father offering his baby a new food.

I took it between my fingers, by the filter, like I knew I was to do. I drew in the smoke, cautious but determined. I was proud to see the ember glow, and then to see it dim, all by my doing; to exhale the smoke that had been in my body back out into the air.


We moved on. A lark or finch called as I planted my tired feet into the dust.

Thursday, May 02, 2019

In the apartment where we lived after they sold the house my mom and dad slept on a mattress on a box spring in the living room. There was a fifth of Jack Daniels and two glasses upside-down on the bedside table—actually an old door on cinder blocks that held books, the stereo, the 12-inch, black-and-white family TV. Every night they’d have a nightcap like this was a motel and they’d bought the bottle from a liquor store on the other side of the highway on-ramp. But it was home.

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

A woman down at the end of the subway car was ranting and raving. She was enormous and wore voluminous, loose-fitting cotton clothes, thin fabrics that looked like they’d tear or fall away like something molting off a beast. In fact her arms were inside her pants legs, stretching the gauzy material like she wanted to explode. I wondered if she was going to spill her giant breasts out of her top as an affront, a provocation. And then what?