481. In this state, what should have been the white of Cynthia’s eyes had a clear quality, sockets shallow cups of saliva, and the pupils were dull orange going grey, tips of cigarettes no one was breathing in.

482. By this time, overnight burn of computer screen while he smoked cigarettes in the semi-dark of light bulbs dying and others dead and unchanged actually felt artistically proper, to lug out the typewriter wouldn’t feel bare-boned enough, not scruffing the barrel bottom, would seem a peculiar, poseur indulgence.

483. Tanya, as she normally did, sat up and made kissy sounds for her cat to come over after an obligatory moment or two of sighs and flop touches with hand back to David’s afterglow ribs or thigh side, David, as was his wont, giving the cat a tap to its nose after fishing his cigarettes from crumple of trouser pocket, moving off to the bathroom to open the window for a smoke.

484. The fire would consume the orchard, help could not arrive nearly in time, but the trees would not be razed before everyone working that day plucked a few, ate them gingerly while others had cigarettes—tossing these thoughtless into dry patches of grass—singing a song to shared handclaps, an anguished and charming sense of laughter while the billow of smoke off distant lurched its drunkard way nearer.

485. Nobody could concentrate on their own small talk over the bow-wow of the neighbor’s argument going on (it’d been an hour, a bottle or a dish or something the piercing highlight) so it’d become just a group of five or six of us (I don’t remember if Shelly had already gone) somberly minding our beers and cigarettes, a linger of toe scrapes on the cement of Donald’s porch, waiting for sirens maybe we should have been the ones dialing for.

486. It wasn’t her voice, that was clean, too bright really for the lyrics, but the tone of the guitar, as though strung with six cigarettes, that made the ballad of heartbreak seem olden, murderous, rather than young love balderdash, just another girl who thought the kisses she’d took came from somewhere else than a man’s mouth.

487. The driver head-nodded I should come over despite the On Duty not being lit, doused his cigarette in (it seemed to me due to the way his sniffed his nose around, squinted beforehand) an exact bead of water on the taxi hood, let out a gargling sequence of inarticulate sighs before introducing himself and asking me where we were headed.

488. Thirteen stops the metro bumbled through, delays due to a shared rail, delays due to overcrowding and nobody wanting to be the ones to wait out a bit longer, thirteen stops in just under two hours that was usually hardly twenty minutes, the cigarette he’d tucked nice behind his ear now reeked of stale sweated scalp, in his mind he was dragging from a tube of his dandruff.

489. Days are as morbid as night, just in the light (if there is any) or by a belief in the meaning of clock hands one can convince themselves the dead aren’t just as present and watching in afterlife judgment, the cigarettes not just as lonesome because there are so many, snaking the air of stutterstep crowds, the betrayals not quite as severe because the beds haven’t been tumbled in yet, are still waiting for the betrayers to have the fucks they’ll think up weak tea deceits to cover.

490. The cigarettes popped down like sugar pills—if they were medicine, I’d be well overdosed from cure.

491. She waited neat, patient, calm as a church song for him to show up, figured if she allowed any impatience it would put a curse on him—swiping cigarettes was something she couldn’t fathom how he managed, and if being good at ‘wait-for-me-here’ was her part in things, she would do it, reverent and no protest.

492. On murky days he liked the dullard thud of the horse hooves when they were walked in the thicker dirt of the inside arena, he would walk outside the place, trot window to window, stopping at each for a cigarette drag and to watch the ripples of equestrian musculature, the pompous swat of tails, and arrogant lay of brushed manes.

493. Slumped to the dash in the parked car in whichever this lot was (he did peek but just didn’t remotely recognize the place) he stared at the coffee cup of squid cigarettes, tried to inhale through his fisted sinuses, each attempt rewarded with a papercut of headache just in back of his eyes.

494. Biggest disappointment over this country so far: cigarette brands were no different and the few that were, they were sold like specialty packs, not like the proper indigenous things to suck on down streets, over billiards, working up drunk nerve to try outsider-suave on some local.

495. There were talons of wind and rain getting good gores off the poor bastards having to make a dash from building to car out there—Clark shivered even defended by space-heater and under his shoulder draped extra coat, watched his thinned reflection smoke its thinned cigarette in the pane, figured to just sleep in the office that night.

496. In the letter, though it wasn’t how he felt (was always using correspondence to try on some manner of air) he complained how his painter friend Nicholas had given up cigarettes, how this seemed to be going against the Gods, as if one seeks aesthetic immortality in the form of canvas and pigment the trade off should be don’t you dare ever try to healthy a few extra days onto your actual life.

497. Her laugh would definitely be spelled Haw-haw, yes it would, was like she said it when something amused her, said it slow to make sure a transcriber wouldn’t miss it—Haw-haw—nothing like the gravel of his chortle, sorry cigarette chuckle, sound of something left to burn too long on a pan.

498. Cigarette in the cat litter—hers? what in Christ’s?—she sat to the carpet and held it, dusting the granules of blue from its strangled pose, sniffing it, spent a few minutes sifting the grains of the box to see if any other oddities would come of it.

499. It became frustrating that he couldn’t get the pouring smoke of the cigarette he set on the curb to show up in the photographs he took, not just the curb, at all, wherever he set the cig to shutterbug it, like his lens couldn’t capture smoke—and this thing had cost him four months lunch money and a trip to the pawn shop with shit his brother might one day come back for.

500. Marybeth chained cigarettes the way a stray cat strayed.


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