221. These same two folding chairs always out on the fourth floor landing, mound of cigarettes stubbed out in an overturned baseball cap stuck underneath one, a hundred of them in there at least by now, mushy and spiked like some aboriginal brain.
222. Tuesday, it annoyed Neve that every time she drove in the car she’d hear at least two of the same songs, without fail, regardless of the time of day, like those were necessary for the programmers to play, people wanted to hear them so urgently always—what was wrong with the proletariat these days, she wondered and could well imagine the common men having traded in cigarettes for diet soda, thoughtlessly bipping heads to this repetitive constant.
223. It was the first time the cat had come out of hiding since he’d been stopping by to feed it—not so far out into the open, a tense posture by the books on the floor by the bookshelf—so he stared at it, stroked dulcet tufts from his cigarette, the cat watching them in the air while they had substance, cast coin sized shadows, tickle of its head and sniffs when the smoke broke, mixed gone with the empty air.
224. Snug by the covered door of the closed dry cleaners, the rain peppering in a hush then raising in rattles like it had found something to applaud, he padded at the cigarette pack in his pants, kind of wriggling fingers like he would be making mimic of the wet patter around him if not for the pocket being too tight.
225. Clunk clunk went his jaw each time he moved it, still out of joint from that fall earlier, crunched and clogged his ears when between cigarettes he made distinct grimaces to get it to catch back to place.
226. Lisa moaned the smooth of the day’s first cigarette when she made love to Gregory, but all very on purpose, liked the sound and was impressed by how perfect she mouthed it.
227. After awhile he relegated himself to the outskirts, tightening a sweet cigarette in the crook of his plummy molester lips.
228. He kept prattling away, smog, moistening his cigarette chops incessantly, hadn’t slowed down even by half a speed and here it was coming up on three in the morning.
229. Villa Croix sold only cigarettes that were hand rolled, hand packaged in grey wax paper a simple letter Y stamped to the spine, for ten hours a day, dozens of women filling the benches of the old monastery cafeteria to produce enough of them—and though she had petitioned several times and was in good standing, only locals were allowed this employment, they wouldn’t even let her try her hand free-of-charge, just for her own kicks.
230. Cooing gravel whispers he told she was his favorite, his little cigarette, the best dog he’d ever housebroken.
231. Whoever it was who’d marked up this book was a fuckwit, Devon thought, letting cigarette out her nose over the twentieth butchered two pages spread—penciled notes that meant nothing or were so odiously banal as to make her writhe where she sat and certain sentences underlined having no value, often right next to some really great ones, just a squashed wasp of a mind all over the thing.
232. Franklin hadn’t been in his office these two days, so Maxwell helped himself to borrowing the space heater, plugged it in and wondered, as his feet began feeling damp in his socks, if the thing was hot enough to light a cigarette with.
233. The narcissist red dress in the Vettriano was so evidently the lover of the turned headed man with the cigarette—he wondered how she didn’t read the painting that way, how the colors, the postures, the facelessnesses showed her any possible other narrative.
234. Through some quirk, the chain smoking and pacing was synchronized to perfection with the telephone ringing, going on, going quiet, starting up again—interesting, but it got exhausting, the motel room ten paces taking on map sized dimensions and every drag of every cigarette seeming an entire night’s broken sleep.
235. They became friends over cigarettes on these middle night walks, two husbands not wanting their marriage beds.
236. Days died like sprayed insects in this country, cigarette tight alleys filling with voices flung out windows, the dusk light crawling into the dark behind the mountain rise, cockroach to the shaded buzz of ovens, appliances.
237. Her heart was mop water, the sort slithered along store tile and left to air dry—she envied every other woman everything, saw herself coward always, couldn’t have a cigarette without thinking her lungs would turn prunes, couldn’t laugh without worrying she’d wake someone, jar them from some favorite thought, couldn’t sleep without thinking how she’d dream up her baby some colic.
238. Dashed the cigarette out in the sink basin, immediately swallowed some tap water and three vitamins from the bottle (no matter what kind) then an allergy tablet—this would be the start of his healthful phase, no more of this letting himself curdle in obesity and gut tar.
239. One orphan said he’d stolen a cigarette from a woman who’d come to visit, kept it hidden more than four years, had finally been found out and so gulped it in his mouth, the floor master on duty holding his head, not letting him chew and ranting something against his ear in an ugly brown language.
240. He figured the moon just wanted a cigarette, glowed shyly to show it, would wait shivering cold but not speaking, waiting for anyone to offer—stubborn old rock, night basking in its mute pride.