461. ‘Nothing makes the insecure feel better than being told reading books amounts them to something,’ he said, lulling the car another turn, still not the right direction, road going single lane, straight old cigarette off Southerly.

462. The fireworks were distant, the pift of them bursting no louder than a cigarette cough into soft curled fist.

463. He’d spent the night in an adolescent insomniac business of dying his hair, going through the closet to find shirts he owned but could not recall (and pants too, if there were any) burning a design of dots around the lapel of the hand-me-down blazer he liked so much with one of the cigarettes he’d swiped from his sister’s purse, filling out a comic book order form from the back page of an issue of a Darkhawk so old certainly there would be no one at the address were he to actually send ten dollars (pity, he got gloomy now wanting those decade old mags).

464. The two of them, even at odds as they were over a bit of crooking from the grocery store gone wrong, still met to smoke a joint between them and four regular cigarettes, to plan on how the one might get the girl with cinnamon-red hair to fall for him, to plan how the other might get in better shape without really having to ever work up a sweat—laughter, laziness, some still bitter feelings as they parted, but both assured in silence they’d wait for the bus together, next morning.

465. All this effort he’d put in to filling an hourglass with collected cigarette ash and exactly nothing slipped from top bulb to reservoir beneath, hardly any even if he shook the thing monstrously.

466. Lucy Jinx ahem ahem ahemed her way from conversation cluster to conversation cluster, complimentary cigarette from each, and every eye that should not have been following her ass followed her ass and her flat breasts in profile as she busy bee pollenated the room with her pheromone hair, the cropped cut of it not washed in a week but still kind of watermelon bubblegum tart.

467. One could almost see the brown rash of pumpernickel skin this old man on the radio must be cloaked in, some poet, free verse, never a rhyme but words in the tight or screwed shape of cigarettes fresh or blotted out done.

468. The wallflowers all stood with their cigarettes waiting for later—they’d make a fine photograph, how they squinted, how they wished there was something in the room to be unrequited in reference to.

469. When moody, she got a brow all Neanderthal, any semblance of her poise rotten on the vines of her skinny body, skinner arms, even skinner legs, she didn’t so daintily sip her cigarette like it was wine from some just so specific province, but like it was a soup bowl she was taking blubber mouthed slurps from.

470. No dog’s as loyal as a man is to his last cigarette.

471. The quacks from the sandwich sellers, cigarette vendors, street performers with tin can piano and dental floss guitar were out of control for this just being a Wednesday night, he was cursing by the time his back was to his quickly shut apartment door, curses usually reserved for the weekend’s din.

472. The clammy of his hands started now to itch, that moist irritation scratching or rubbing with dry cloth did nothing to relieve, he spent a cigarette running both hands in semicircles over the old brick of shop front.

473. The night was a sloppy grift out of the till of the day and evening, he wasted it on smiling cigarette teeth and anxiety dry eyes at women coming out of the discount shops or the flabby one in a sweater that did a lousy job hiding the extraness of her, blunt lady scratching at scrub brush hair while she was busing the tables in the café next to the salon.

474. Cigarettes stole his imagination, he couldn’t even puff up his misery into hyperbole, just leaned suckling the dowdy filter knowing he wasn’t tormented or anything, just a touch downtrodden and would be no worse off than any other generic doldrummer by morning.

475. Not telling his wife that he’d bought cigarettes for those kids at the gas station, he wondered if that constituted dishonesty, really.

476. Erik fawned over her, couldn’t pawn off friend’s stories as his own or insist she take his every cigarette quick enough.

477. Four empty houses now cavitied the uneasy grin of the neighborhood, the residents who hadn’t gone under or fled leering the time away, eyeballing each other’s nighttime lit windows, trying to lure each other into tepid evening conversation by standing beacon at the edge of their watered lawns with an air they would gladly share cigarettes.

478. Slosh and crunch of frozen mulch and thawing mud, over shoe sides his socks ruined, his frame an uproar of shivers that would leave him a mucus ridden recluse, cigarettes punctuated with sneezes and garish wipes at face when tissues got too slippery thick with his leaks.

479. For an older man he was quite attractive, cigarette colored stubble very dapper against his phony brown hair uncombed, the sort of suit on that had no purpose and boots quite obviously from some foreign country he’d likely visited ages and ages ago and would never return to.

480. No math could measure which was colder, the air her cigarette grey cut paper thin through or the pause then smile she wouldn’t explain before walking off with.


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