121-140

121. Everything in the bag was ruined, everything except the potato (on close inspection)—wine bottle was smithereens, mess of brown paper a smear over part of the bottom stair, cigarettes unopened and trainwrecked all of them, he could tell by the absolute warp to the pack, same as the loaf of bread left in the shape of a shoe sole.

122. Also, two ahead of her in line, some crumble of an old woman had a cigarette, half smoked down, extinguished, tucked behind her ear, the bump of it causing her old bat-blind glasses to sit not quite a steady line.

123. Head jerked up—eyes gummy from his being asleep what must have been a full minute, the sound of the bathroom gone all buried and funny—he saw, floating in the water over his groin, the waterlogged husk of his cigarette and flecks of ash bobbing up down on the ripples around it caused by his shifting.

124. The irritation up his forearm had gotten worse since the morning, especially where his rolled taut shirt sleeves had been pressing all day, the moist parts of the rash stinking a bit like cigarette, pinheads of puss, a few connect-the-dots of some clear colored fluid.

125. It only struck him how weary he was feeling when he didn’t bother to stand, move the pace or so to the ashtray on the booth table, when, shoulders drooped like sunken barges, he realized he rather enjoyed the idea of cigarette ash on his pant thighs or flicked to soak up the last slick of coffee down his empty cup.

126. Some half dozen leafleters—all of them with cigarette in one hand, leaflet-at-a-time in the other, stacks pinned in armpits—were bundled up for the weather and arranged hopscotch down the sidewalk.

127. Henrietta seemed to have been using the two circular, toothy cavities in the back of an overturned videocassette to extinguish her cigarettes in, so he asked if it was alright he do the same, not wanting to be presumptuous, as the makeshift ashtray might have had some specific meaning to her, ceremonial or keepsake.

128. He doodled a cigarette in to the mouth of the chef being interviewed in the article he hadn’t read, glanced out the window at the brick of tunnel and the grey cast light from a bulb, garbled voice of the conductor apologizing again for the delay, passenger in front of him giving the verbatim hiss she had two minutes previous.

129. Teach the goddamned cat to smoke a cigarette, she thought, then I’ll be impressed.

130. Calvin offered around copies of the article and smoked a cigarette rambunctiously in poppy kisses, clapping all the time to emphasize things, a behavior Warren had never seen on display in his lover and which made him (though no one seemed to be put off) cringe a sympathetic shift in the corner chair where he’d stuck himself.

131. The same exact entry for every hour, every day, but here he was—last ten minutes of his shift instead of having done it in the first ten—scribbling the repetitive mess in increasingly slipshod penmanship all over the top page of the log book, the cigarette he’d rather be smoking giving him an unamused glower from the countertop.

132. Surgical gauze of the curtains gave the night in this motel the exact shade of grey left stained to a foot bottom by a new black sock and the walls were candy wrapper thin, he heard it like a nudge on his shoulder every time the measle-pocked woman in the next room struck her lighter for another cigarette.

133. Sandra wore boots that made certain people would forever be asking her for cigarettes, so Henry had taken to carrying around an extra pack—not his brand—to keep her from having to put up with the looks she’d get when curtly stating she didn’t smoke.

134. The elevator door opened and he stepped in to a puddle of a beer and a dozen dead cigarettes, lifted his foot with a snarl, felt it set down in another such ugly scum when he turned to lean to the wall.

135. Charmed past reason with himself, he hurried out the door of the convenience store (even bumping shoulder into the lackadaisical opening of the automatic door) jaunted across to the road-facing sign for Kelly’s Pizzeria, using the new Scotch tape to replace the missing second letter I with a picturesque new cigarette, then (another flash of brilliance) lighting another smoke, stubbing it to add a dot over the addition (a cartoon circle of ash) when he was done with it.

136. Set in line with a container of some beauty cream, the mouthwash, a box of Band-Aids, and an empty glass bottle that had a water-speckle-faded perfume label on it, was a pack of smokes, something he opened with a curious grin, expecting a baggie of marijuana or some such thing, not exactly sure what to make of only finding actual cigarettes, a whole twenty.

137. This was the moment he most looked forward to: returned to the house he’d grown up in, now blowing the smoke from a cigarette out in to the damp night air, a trick to the light from the neighbor’s porch through the wood slats of the fence catching the smoke in just such a way that a precise letter X seemed to appear, almost solid, in front of him, vanishing if he squeaked his head even a touch this way, that.

138. As the numbers affected by the illness increased, she and the rest of the doctors took to walking the rounds of the wards with continuous chain of cigarettes to their mouths, breathing the sharp sin into tarmac lungs with one drag, letting gulps scrabble indiscriminate over their faces with the next, the perpetual glaze of smoke the only thing keeping masked the swamp-sour odor of the garbage the afflicted would lilt to bedside and let stream from glugging throats to the tile.

139. The air licked by cigarettes from overnight workers and the morning thick of commuters and early lunchers gave a distinct flavor to the doughnuts baked in the early afternoon, the same hinted taste since he’d been a child and his father had needed him to spend the days trailing him from office to office, he with his pile of the same five comic books each week, the pad he’d tried to copy panels out on, hand drawn grids to enlarge certain portions he especially adored.

140. Black eye stung even worse a day later, sting of trying to enjoy the first cigarette after vomiting drunk all night.

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