521. There was no mistaking Jermaine for someone who would be considered ‘well liked,’ he had the sort of anti-social hunch to him that made even his cigarette seem droopy-eyed and eager to insult the most honest mistake.

522. Tough to make up his mind about which was the more perfect thing: slowly blowing cigarette out, wordless, as response to a question or the use of the word yeah (especially as in yeah yeah yeah) in some rock-and-roll song.

523. The new medication had his hands swollen and to drag in some cigarette was like taking a drink of room temperature milk—the fever was reduced, though, his back didn’t ache, and he could tell, even in the dark, that his vision was starting to improve.

524. How long before he’d eventually approach the man, ask him what his business was parking the car there, filling it to capacity with cigarette smoke, the radio droning downbeats that could be heard as far away as the curb at the playground edge—it was every night for a week now, between the same hours, dismal cold out and no one ever seemed to approach the vehicle, and the buildup of inevitably finding the man suicided was beginning to weigh on his own mind, so in need of some distraction.

525. Cassie’s heart bled like the middle summer sun—anything for relief, if it would end the heat of her empathy, unwanted unwanted, she’d let herself be stubbed to some wall like a cigarette cherry, would not mind being broken and a tangle if she could just also be made cold.

526. Traffic whinnied and stamped, drivers the particular blank faces of doom and nothing they wanted on their radio, and the most blank of all was radioless, heaterless, cigaretteless Parker Hilman, to alter his features so much as a frustrated lower lip out would topple him for good.

527. These two deserved each other, both so enamored of their sophomoric conceptions of the Soul—likely they truly believed that when they went on about their fanciful descriptions of it that they were hard-fast accurate, had figured it out over hand rolled cigarettes and types of imported tea that cost as much in a month as my share of the rent.

528. The ugliness was temporary, get Janet a cigarette and she’d be a doll all over again lickity-split, give her that smoke to play costume with and she’d be a sultry flash bang, beautiful, she got that way best when she was playacting someone other than herself.

529. Mouthwashed the evening’s cigarette before going in to resettle Julian, the last thing I’d want was for him to catch a hint of cancer off my lullaby.

530. Her green-speckled-pink scarf was long, same as was her lady-length cigarette, same as were her eyelashes, same as was the song she’d picked out to sing.

531. Ten or eleven odd folks and the breathing tips of their cigarettes mingled in with the bulbs of the fireflies, this assortment of lights, bright some, dull some, tip tap tip tap tip tap in a patternless series of winking inside of a night full dark as shut eyes.

532. How she held her cigarette (a few times putting it to mouth, then away, arm at a bend of elbow, angled away forearm) at the bar counter was enough to show him she was a well cultured tight of snatch, the only desire soon in him to know did her shoulders drain pale, her chest blush hot from the whiplash of a cum.

533. A street hidden enough by the hour of past midnight, she walked with a melody in her head and after a stop to get a new cigarette going from the one she’d hardly puffed at for having been too busy humming, she began to sway and her arms long longed like violin strains off to all sides.

534. Corinna would sell herself Satan if someone else couldn’t, same as she’d willed her favorite cigarettes to be the brand of the man who’d unfaithfuled the pure from her heart.

535. The automatic door was slow and so a well pronounced thud of his face, nose numb aching as he stepped back, cigarette snapped nice completely, filter in one piece, whole tube in another, both there on the unvacuumed entranceway carpet.

536. The reheated soup didn’t warm him and beside that tasted awful, good enough to use as a place to douse cigarettes the rest of the morning, though.

537. He’d woke and slipped back in to dreams three times, full dreams, gaudy with detail but only a total of five minutes passing according to the clock—and like realizing this time passage shook his memory to work right, by the time another five minutes had passed, a lazy cigarette with only one leg off the bedside, the images from those long dreams were gone, leaving only enough fleeting impressions to fill maybe five minutes of explaining them.

538. Darla yawned like a dog, the thin high pitched chirp at the end of it, the bubble pop of a lip smack after, a trait Arthur alternately adored and despised, usually depending how long it’d been since his last cigarette.

539. They had no need to speak to each other about it—even were the tragedy one not quite so immense, they both knew that it was no more possible to share another’s mourning than it was to know the draw of someone else to cigarettes, certain poets, or lovers who’d cuckolded them.

540. In a mire so desperate of wanting, not able, to sleep or even keep eyes closed, the sounds took on volumes quite strange—here, scratching his scalp through aching hair, a sound even if her remarked it usually would not be one he’d really notice, here, now, it sounded like a cigarette lighter being tried tried tried tried tried with cold fingers not even scraping up so much as a flint spark.


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