61-80

61. ‘Simply seeing an ugly,’ he went on, faltering with a brief hem-haw gesture, ‘or not ugly, just one of these shapeless, sexless sort of people of whichever gender–just seeing someone like that in a pornographic film isn’t so upsetting or difficult to understand,’ tap of ash from cigarette, sip from water, tap of ash from cigarette with absent glance over his shoulder, ‘it’s when one of these people is in a pornographic film and doesn’t seem to be having any fun that’s a bit disquieting.’

62. The wastebasket breathed out used cardboard coffee cups, fabric softener sheets, fistfuls from the lint trap, a touch of banana the last mouthful of which he’d not eaten, had shoved the ends of a few cigarettes in to and closed up under cover of the limp, browning peel.

63. He could live with Fante, because Fante had spelled ‘cigarette’ with only the one T and one E (beautiful cigaret) in Ask The Dust, and he could abide Jean Paul Sarte because (years ago when he was in a lousy little rock-and-roll band) he’d rhymed Burnt Pop-Tart to the man’s name, but he could not come up with a reason not to bad mouth Herman Hesse—figured there was a reason, but he’d have to go on talking shit about the man until it occurred to him.

64. Stomachache was the sort caused by his swallowing the fingernail bits he chewed off absently all day (or else just by enough of the grime from under the nails getting down him) and this cigarette would shut him down, done, dead, sequestered to the toilet all evening or else splayed in dubious, always tentative comfort on the sofa while some one of the same three videocassettes he had laying around played, television still shit for reception, VCR the only thing doing what it ought to.

65. Some evenings the field is tranquil, the cigarette of sky he can make out enough to calm him, but this evening it kind of felt that piece of sky was what troubled him, everything against him found to first lurk there before stealthing down, brandishing its gibberish at him.

66. Colleen let her talk, let her go on and talk talk talk three cigarettes and a half long before she told her ‘Quiet,’ tongue a slip over lips cornflake dry, ‘just quiet.’

67. Just the light and the Muzak, the ashtrays set behind the glass outside this lobby enclosure—ashtrays with no sign they’d ever even heard of cigarettes, just sand that seem hair brushed and a bottle cap on the lip of the sand—it made him feel preposterously alone, like he belonged in some odd car in a parking lot all night everyone glanced at, wondered about.

68. Her cigarette sulked from her lip, she listened to the telephone ring—little point lifting the fucking receiver, as the conversation would sound the same as the braying high pitched warble and the lousy hung echo that would be left if it ever stopped.

69. Stephen’s sister had taken to listening to Bud Powel and had switched from bottled wine to boxed, from fresh bread to generic bagged, though the sleek cigarette of her posture kept somehow unchanged.

70. He could never trust Vernor, just couldn’t trust a person who smoked cigarettes without filters, drank without knowing the brand, but whose teeth seemed almost obscenely polished and in place at all hours.

71. And look at that one, slugging along with his weakling limp, the sort of person who it’d be more worthwhile to lend a match too than a cigarette.

72. The two of them spent the evening moving the bookshelves but no time arranging the books, these left around in the settling plumes and tufts of cigarette smoke, in the fake cherry, fake apple scents from the candles, pages bulbous and book spines tumbled all to their own unneeded alphabet.

73. Men with suitcases and without, umbrellas and without, cigarettes and without, watches to look at and without, they cascade down the stairwell to the lower metro platform, footfalls hitting pavement in no sort of order, tardy raindrops too winded to fall in pace with the wet.

74. Whoever had had the hotel room last—or at least someone who’d had it recently—had opened the window to have their cigarettes, scraggles of the ash from where they’d stubbed the things on the wall beside the outside pane still quite black, his fingers coming away thick enough to leave prints, solid, on the next ten things he touched.

75. Martin scuffed a lowly round of the parking lot, the streetlights only just hums, still warming up to their cigarette tip orange that would coat the moisture in the air, leave its lick all over everything, sour its way up even the darkest nook of these strip mall storefronts, these windows with soot enough on them to fill the shelves of the empty cavities of the failure little shops behind them.

76. As the restaurant was closing, Courtney just waiting for her takeaway order, they were fine with her having a cigarette, one of the loitering wait staff even begging one from her but having to go when summoned to the back for some reason, leaving the line of the thing unsmoked on the cashier’s counter next to the mints and the pencil stringed to the register side.

77. She did one word with A apricot two words with B buttonhole barbiturate three words with C curt cigarette camisole four words with D dour decorum dilapidated Diogenes but didn’t go on to E, annoyed she’d used a proper name there, the one thing she’d said was against the rules.

78. ‘It’s hard to be mad at you when you bought the cigarettes,’ she said glumly, tried to muster enough enthusiasm to give him a patently fake little kick to his shin like she was interested, then just didn’t bother.

79. This employee, her family picture and then a picture of each member of the family (smaller photos) in their own frames, then in the desk drawers just work papers, matchbook, three loose cigarettes, and some foreign coin—one drawer locked, but not in an exciting way, most of the drawers to most of the desks were locked.

80. In the cartoon playing on the television in the upper corner of the waiting room—a children’s optometrist—he could see in to, a Billy-goat was lighting a cigarette for two foxes, one fox saying ‘Thank you’ in a stately way, as though lost in the fantasy of being a sophisticate due to the smoke, the other fox, liquid animation to the way it moved, lifting an ax after spitting in gloved palms and rubbing them.

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