281-300

281. However long this toothpaste had been caked along the sides of his thumbnail—last night, this morning, longer?—he noticed it now, gave it a dull stare as he let a mouth of cigarette out over it, then dug at it with the tip of his opposite hand’s index finger, cigarette in that hand, a few more sucks while he scraped.

282. Snowflakey gas station to empty cigarette box motel—three hours on the road in the wrong direction entirely.

283. These deep pink and sponge red clouds clumped to the left of the sun, a bump of cauliflower, heat of day going to temperatureless night as quickly as the embers of a stepped down on cigarette.

284. Something in Suzanne’s posture or her accent or her way of not saying things he knew she knew, her way of asking ‘Do you have…?’ a certain brand of cigarette instead of saying ‘Can I have a pack of…’ when she saw them there plain, something—something—some aspect of her always put a picture of used car lot in Leopold’s mind, those ones he feels seem seldom visited for all of their banners and discount television ads, that exist kind of just to do so.

285. Windows across from window sized neon lit letters in the windows of the tattoo parlor Denver sat, nothing but cigarettes and fists down his coat pockets, insults and pathetic pleas of change-your-mind-please buzzing in clumps of pieces of each other in his head.

286. Ginette’s daughter had learned the word oceanic and kept calling it the most beautiful world in the world, but went quiet after asking ‘What does it mean, mommy?’ to which Ginette replied ‘Massive, unbearably large, peaceful, immense and peaceful’ glad she’d stopped herself from adding ‘It means the same thing as cigarette.’

287. The same bus always loitered, always seemed it was there too long, a major crossstreet, four lanes of traffic building up at each signal, cigarette breaths of the lanes out two at a time, sometimes crisscrossing, the bus just a plop where it had plopped.

288. In the music and handclaps between it, in the muffle of the six seven eight brands of cigarettes, he went heartbroken unseen.

289. She was cautious in everything—conversations as simple as ‘Have any cigarettes?’ ‘No’—had the burned to bone distrustful mannerisms of a blind woman who’d been stolen from.

290. It was a fact (one Scott mentioned aloud more often than he knew to co-workers and customers) that many overweight women came out of the plus-size store with a spring to their step, prideful of every extra lift of their flesh, the man who would take his cigarette breaks reading paperbacks by the payphone obviously knowing how to sell what he sold.

291. Trouble was, being known as a satirist his satire was squinted at from the get, the fine line between ‘man with thoughtful edge to wit’ and ‘dismal blowhard twat’ a little finer—he was still liked, but with a different flavor, much as a cigarette is still welcomed by lungs it has cancered.

292. From under the two tables he’d bused, he’d managed to séance up enough dropped coins that were cigarettes sold as loosies anywhere nearby he could afford enough to last him the hike back to Benjamin’s place.

293. Not seen it in thirty years, this road he’d walked every winter day in colds that’d bedridden him, all totaled, a year of his young life, now was just something to point out to his wife—who offered ‘Poor you poor you’ at the mention of his illnesses—from a vehicle too warm for his liking, heat bringing out every hidden touch of cigarette from buried in his scarf threads.

294. Those books they’d read only Pauline the first half of Colette the second, those from older-brother older-sister stolen cigarettes, those hours thinking in silence with each other and just agreeing when she told her what she guess she’d been thinking and she told her the same, those things were more than worlds away now.

295. The comic shop also sold all manner of little statuettes, the one he liked the best was older, cost more, was of a detective in no coat, the white paint of the tiny little cigarette in the thing’s left hand also had painted a few of the fingers, beautiful, and beautiful too was the chipped gone paint that left the nose just a cold graphite peck.

296. Hector’s language was the eighth one the announcement was given in—he’d figured this out earlier, so now had a drag or two off his cigarette through the first five, held his breath as the sixth began, not letting it out until the words in his tongue were finished.

297. She wanted to brood, but she needed a cigarette to do that, otherwise it was just sulking.

298. Cranes were every few inches in the skyline from the distance they stood looking, just as frequent as cranes were hotel signs, even more frequent were signs for banks (or businesses with names that made them think they were banks) squatter buildings smoked the cigarettes of their pinpoint chimneys or vents (or were on fire inside) under the disregard of their skyward betters..

299. There were the same panties, purple, she’d worn every day of this tryst—nude apart from them, freckles over her serpent tongue ribs, breasts flat unless pulled in hard handfuls by him, nipples the brown of cigarette filters, more freckles up her neck, over her ears, probably more under the wavers of crisp grey hair if she’d let it fall off.

300. The cottonmouth was getting worse in the morning from ordinary old cigarettes than from the now-every-other-daily joint—no good, he thought, staring down at the inside of his underwear around his ankles, cracking his cold toes on the towel over the tiles while he shat, no good at all.

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