341-360

341. Insulting rain, dampening the night shades and shades darker, going whap wham whack to every bit of the house’s façade, the rooms I sat in felt soaked to the lights and the cigarette smell mixed with washed away soil, ozone, shakes of the belching fumes of the forest nearby.

342. Her skull was some starving old bone, one she feed until it strained with cigarettes and old French novelettes—she’d have rolled the ones from the pages of the others.

343. I’d gladly be the deaf ears for the tumble of her to fall on, her imbecile need for cigarettes, motel keys, the heated ink of electric typewriters, tap water, pacing floors in nothing but ideas, not-stitched-yet poetry mumbling out of her.

344. The fast food was sniveling, felt like it was pressing out at the skin under his pubic hair—one thing, he certainly wouldn’t envy whoever had to autopsy him were he to keel dead after this cigarette, whichever doc would be called on to poke through the cold bag of his last meal.

345. His promise, she knew it, he knew it, wasn’t worth the spit to slick his teeth saying it, and part of her just wished he’d keep up the bullshit, light her cigarette, call her whatever little pet name made him feel clever, a bright little alchemist combining her and whomever.

346. The worlds of Anton Clever’s fiction were filled with attractive people (unattractive people used only as befitted some symbolic purpose, some ugly trope) were filled with writers writing their own fictions (always ones that meant something) were filled with short cigarettes and kisses to friend’s wives and dialogue that went on and on and on like some kind of incomplete algorithm.

347. The claws of her mistakes had caught too far in to flesh of all the lives hers overlapped, it was only a matter of how many cigarettes she would get through before some knock, some ring, some somebody something would strike back at her from their pierce.

348. From the height of his nose, standing at the table, thighs touching the lip, he dropped his cigarette into the remaining milk in the cereal bowl, the stub vanishing, lurking up just a slightly thicker seeming spot of milk, still submerged, the ripples moving some last few Rice Krispies toward the bowl side.

349. Nobody in the town of Antiadale cared for the secrets they knew of each other, the folks would tread cautiously down every sidewalk and keep as monosyllabic in conversation as possible, anything to avoid knowing one more hidden cranny of a neighbor—one Wednesday, this is true, Henrietta Vonn spied Gary Pilmith smoking a cigarette down behind the cinema and suffered a mild paroxysm there and then just from the revulsion, the revulsion, the revulsion of knowing another stitch.

350. After the squirrel had finished burying its little nut, hoppitied off and round arounded up some tree, young Wendell strolled over, setting casually his cigarette on top of some not-too-dry leaves piled close by, and dug it back up, grinned at the jewel of it in the sullied lines of his palm, popped it in his mouth, sucked, spit it high into the air and caught it, buried it back, and patted the earth over it sturdier than the animal had done.

351. Most of the attending staff placed their bets on how long the elderly would last in numbers of cigarettes—Duncan had put good money that the codger in the room at the corridor end wouldn’t even crack the plastic of the second pack of the two for one’s on the paperback under his bedside lamp.

352. Rene would only head nod or Mmn-hmn while she had a cigarette, but would expect him to keep up talking at the pace and intensity as when she was volleying back and bulldozing him.

353. On the wall just inside the apartment was an enlargement of the photograph of Camus with that scrape of cigarette in his mouth, but Evan had no idea who Camus was, explained the poster was left over from a previous tenant.

354. Steam lurching out from his coffee into the utter frigid of the mid-morning mixed with the cigarette trill he whistled out, the two greys mingling into almost a line of perfect Ws.

355. Real black and white cinema is not glorious or pristine, is not silver or crisp, none of that—real black and white cinema is the world seen through cigarette blown in your eyes.

356. Fever had gaunted his face, cigaretted his skin, made the veins around his forearms slug thick and itch like they were keeping his bones bound.

357. Another dilemma—Bryan wanted to keep smoking the cigarettes Kayla had said he could help himself to, the package up on the dash, the lighter in the coin cup in one of the holders, but he was distinctly not in love with her and could spot it plain she’d take each successive one he indulged in as a more and more reverent wedding vow.

358. But for a good five minutes he gave serious consideration to purchasing a ten dollar copy of the lesbian pornography titled Let Them Eat…starring the pseudonymous Marie Antoinette (really a gal named Giselle Baine, he knew somehow, from some entertainment article or news magazine spot) in the end only deciding against it because he needed cigarettes still and wouldn’t be alone with a VCR for days, his desire for the spread labia and tongue-to-clit sure to have mellowed in the meanwhile.

359. Cigarettes wagged like doggie tails and ticked like the batons of maestros, spiked like the administering of wrong syringes.

360. As Norma died and her husband was too drawn with wanting to join her to weep, the sea outside lapped the scab of beach their property could access, patient and unconscious, drag drag cigarette, knead knead cat paw, kiss kiss lips new and old to each other at once.

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321-340

321. In the side pouch of his backpack, Levine kept his flask and two cigarettes wrapped in cloth, this a habit he had picked up from his older brother, or rather something he recalled his older brother describing to a friend once, Levine only six years old at the time, listening behind feigned sleep from the top bunk.

322. The cigarette was her Linus blanket, she snuggled to it in the apartment dark, it assuring her only some of the things she hated hated her back.

323. Later chapters of the manual dealt with sleight-of-hand utilizing cigarettes—he naturally wanted to skip ahead to learn these, but most of the instructions were given in a kind of code, referencing techniques by abbreviations, skills acquired in the chapters on cards, coins, and the lot.

324. The scent of whatever homeless had decided to use the vestibule to escape the previous night’s rain malingered, Gordon giving a sneer at the group of tramps trading cigarette bits across the way, outside the pimply delicatessen.

325. I was always gracious enough to hold my cigarette behind my back when anyone passed by, especially if they had children, made sure to smile double wide at anyone who gave me a scowl, keep my eye on them while they had to wait at the crosswalk, linger in the fumes of the city’s middle-day traffic clogs.

326. At least now when he blew his nose it didn’t stir up cicadas of headache, clog his ears for twenty minutes—yes, his nose was almost in working order, but the mucus dripping post-nasal still had a meaty coat on his throat and mouth’s inside, sludge-watering his cigarettes, but in a day or two even that would get back to ship shape, he could weather it.

327. Cigarettes would always be magic to Eileen, she would breathe in from them a lung of her sure-to-be-forthcoming miseries and then would breathe out the color of certain falcon’s breast feathers.

328. Forty glass bottles filled with cigarettes, the bottom bunch having sopped up whatever was left of the soda, the top bunch pristine, didn’t even look stubbed, just that they’d been slipped in still smoking—just one of the breathtaking treasures in the bedroom his former flat mate had decided to vacate with all belongings left behind.

329. Another of Donovan’s city walk superstitions—on Glover Avenue, mostly populated by a scraggly Asian community, he never saw any people of his own race having cigarettes (plenty of people his own race, yes, some even seemed to have employment if not to own little shops) and so he would never light up, not even right on the outskirts, afraid he’d be remembered the next time, a gangrenous posse waiting to disappear him.

330. Brick, his late mother’s dog, would always wake, pace around near the front door, when Curtis smoked a cigarette, would sometimes scratch at the door to the garage, running muzzle snot in overlapping circles near the knob, this leading both to melancholy, bitter-pill memories of mom and also to jeepers creeps he could do well without.

331. ‘Oh cigarette women,’ boistered Greg, ‘there is a special place in the Lord’s house for all of them—any gal who knows there’s nothing sexier than begin good with smelling like a coffee house ashtray, their every bone should be some holy relic, yes please.’

332. Quite charming, with no aid of inebriation, Nicolette danced with the grace of a drunk trying to park straight at a one a.m. gas pump, she’d let the cigarette she was holding fall from her hands some half dozen twirls ago.

333. The reason she could not do without her cigarettes was they made the inside of her head sound the same way reading Anne Michaels, Duras, or the screen treatment for A Bout De Souffle did.

334. His fists were balled, but wimpy lettuces slumped at the end of loose packed cigarette arms, things were darting behind his eyes, thoughts barging to be given physicality, but his throat was too shut to even give voice.

335. Some kind of pie, two slices, rotated behind the plastic windows, he couldn’t even tell if the heat bulbs were on—no, no idea what he’d call it, maybe cigarette-lemon from the color of the insides, crust like a cartoon picture of a moon monster.

336. Leaning back, just pressing on despite the overall mood among the odd bunch gathered, Prescot said, ‘And I’m more impressed by surgeons who had cigarettes while operating—I think that should raise them in our esteem, like how we admire ball players from pre-steroid days—a cigarette dangling over an open necrotic bowel, I mean, that’s working against a handicap.’

337. This whole country, honestly, had the stale, post-corpse demeanor of the old woman always down in the apartment laundry, cigarette permanent over a lower lip that looked it’d been caught in a door.

338. Striking at the cigarette lighter impatiently, every intention to pick up the ringing phone once he got one lit, he felt perspiration at his convalescing brow, glorious ‘Mother fuck God!’ unleashed, lighter flung to tiled kitchen floor, breathing gooey wheezes as he took the receiver up, said ‘Hello?’

339. Best part of the documentary: Colleen smoked the same cigarette brand these civilizationless tribe people were hooked on now, the only thing they traded for from outside their boarders.

340. Pigeons pecked around in the meek light of what passed for dawn, wing flaps and threatening coos over cigarette butts, Styrofoam covered nibbles, Tracey with pulsing bourbon nose and head cold building to crescendo, five miles walk still to her friend Oliver’s place.

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301-320

301. In the least visible crook of the bookstore, a number of cigarette devoid would-be poets sipped from water and sugar coffee, stammering a half thought between all of them.

302. This sofa was an island and he a civilization, fabled, on it, the cigarette smoke evidence of him, of fires with songs no outsider got near enough to catch a word of—his sickbelly frown and still the chalk of medicine tablets in his mouth, if these details got to the world outside his shores they’d be things enough to make myths out of and later novels referencing these myths.

303. Through her waif clothing, Merton thought it seemed his mother’s neck began just above her tailbone, giraffe long of her bumpy spine so thin and swingable, he imagined the cigarette smoke looping swirls around all the way down this length, her stomach, lungs maybe tucked cozy behind her bulbous knees.

304. On days his children weren’t there he would walk cigarettes through the house, windows all opened though freezing outside of them (more than enough air freshener to hide this tendency, nobody knew) and he’d look through their rooms, flip through children’s book pictures of cities in summer, in snow, on fire, beneath ground, with people, without, animals as people, animals as animals, moons as sinister eyes not to trust for a moment and moons as very best friends.

305. Probably, since the medicine would take six days to even show any effect, it would have been all the same to have never gone to the damned clinic and the worst of it was taking the medicine, knowing he was ill, put him right off smoking—if he just didn’t know, he could go enjoy a misery sodden smoke on the porch, immediately brush the slathered taste off his teeth, but now it was just appalling to even think about tobacco.

306. This plump old guy here, bookless while everyone else book-laden, smoked his cigarette like peek-a-boo, was whispering something, maybe whispering some song.

307. Mint green of her tongue from the long licked, bitten cracked, lollipop, this blowjob of hers was scented like bubblegum and all those bummed cigarettes all night, this mixed with my cinnamon sour perspiration soaking my shirt pits, arms laced up over my head, groaning it all in.

308. When sea journeys ran long, became death bobs, the waiting corpses would ration cigarettes—cigarettes which, when journeys went well, divided the days better than the rotation of stars, good navigators able to get globe-end to globe-end just by calculating the geography of breaths between drags.

309. It was like this, she told him one night, not even bothering to share the cigarette he didn’t bother to offer: she was always impressed with old books, but was never impressed by people who liked old books, especially not those who wouldn’t stop gushing, their exuberance the opposite of the magic the volumes should beget, and this was why his circle of friends was oppressive to her, their always thinking it some accomplishment to have paid two dollars for a book used and then loverboy sighing ‘This was written one hundred forty years ago—think about that, my God’ and all of it.

310. Teeth shivered rattlesnake to the hsssss in of his cigarettes, shoulders shivered turkey gobble as he bounced on fronts of feet with the outbreaths.

311. Something would have to be done about this—the suit he’d not worn to the funeral was laid out like a person on the bed, the suit he had worn being stripped off, floppy bored gesture of nudity, each piece discarded to the cigarette reek of the other laundry in room corners—did he move the pristine bastard back to the closet, sleep on it, what?

312. The cat was over there, gangster calm, purring pretend that its whiskers were a hung veil of cigarette smoke, forever unmoving.

313. Her son had smoked cigarettes, wasted evenings alone, left semen in women, ignored voices (even hers) over telephones, suddenly remembered things from times he couldn’t quite place—everyone’s sons do that, all of it, but now it was hers who had and she didn’t know how alone to feel, knowing most of the things she’d done, he her little baby, were those half remembered things, not sure if she wanted him to just enjoy the semi-sensations of remembrance or to not be satisfied until he could recall each detail, everything she’d loosely made up about why popsicles are cold, why grown up books don’t have pictures, who some dirt clumps to rocks and other dirt doesn’t.

314. Ten times, twenty times, thirty Daniel had answered ringing payphones in public (like this one he had glared at seething at his overdue bus with a cigarette) so much so he was convinced there was a specific tone in people’s voices, like they knew he always did it, found it creepy, knew they were the eleventh, the twenty-first, thirty-first stranger he’d so peculiarly decided to just say ‘Hello?’ to for nothing.

315. Some local film club was loitering through shared cigarettes, some bummed from him, in the last ten minutes before, according to the banner, the night’s feature would start—the girl had seen him look at her three times now, absolutely no way he could ask to be allowed inside, too.

316. Right beside, above a touch, a certain crucifix in the school Bernie and Hank had attended there was a speaker, bullhorn shaped, that school announcements were played on, the joke (told over and over and over during those school filled years) being that it was really there so some voice could blurt ‘Hey, quick slacking off Jesus, keep dying for our sins up there!’—a joke Bernie no longer found the laughter in, but could remember once choking hard on a cigarette at some retelling of, Hank remembering too, remembering mostly how Bernie had turned eggplant purple from the hacking and guffaws.

317. Large blank of the auditorium screen was taken up a few moments with sharp movements of projectionist shadow, the weight of the man obvious, the cigarette in his mouth, too.

318. He sobbed an aviary that night, kawed through cigarette after cigarette, blame after curse after supplication.

319. The wino thick of his mouth after two hours sleep—waking just to urinate—made it feel he was smoking his cigarette—just four drags, flushed dissatisfied with his coffee-tint piss—through spider webs tangled with sucked moths.

320. One day he’d no longer smell the cigarette odor of her broken sleep on the bed sheets, one day it’d strike him he no longer knew her sleep anymore, at all.

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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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261-280

261. ‘Okay, okay’ he said, likely didn’t know his air was that of a cigarette that’d been offered and declined.

262. It just wasn’t fair of his cigarette, his last, to be done—not now, just here, the roil of another heartache just about to start, the only aggression he’d been able to show nothing but a scuff mark from a thud of his boot to the base of Martin’s door (already so many others there what would it matter?)

263. At the age of twelve, pianist Novak Yale for the first time played with a cigarette pinched between the third and fourth fingers of his left hand, at that time, though, not a proper cigarette, just a dollar bill made into a tube, pretended into a cigarette, tube held closed with a Halloween sticker Yale had had on his cheek all day.

264. Anxiety wafted, clumps of impolite cigarette smoke to his face from every table, he wrote notation after notation but the earlier miscalculation not only remained for each one, it worsened, snickered like a hornet’s house.

265. The parts of the film that bore no resemblance to the novel it was based on were Tobey’s favorite—he saw nothing wrong with this, but nonetheless distanced himself behind cigarettes from saying so, neither amused nor put off by the thrashing the screenwriter and all sundry manner of other’s involved with the film were getting from Rene, Jonathan, Juliette.

266. Shrieks of wind yawped up such dirt from these fields, she’d never seen anything like it—looked miles off still, likely it would settle by the time her car had slugged that far, but for now she just stared, cigarette lighter needing to be pressed down again, coils gone cold while she’d slack jawed and drifted at low speeds aweing.

267. Neighbor’s back yard, over the wall: the tops of prune colored leaves on weakling branches, chopped ends of mixed ropes of cigarette smoke from the fat laughing voices, scents of the cooking meat and the beer, all of this drowned under the choke of an airplane making a long line of itself off someplace.

268. Nothing like the flesh itself, the mouth with tip tap of cigarette, the naked neck, teenaged, the hands that haven’t touched the things they have such power over.

269. Sheila is a phone in an unplugged house, a cigarette mistaken for a nightingale—that’s what he wrote, and to alter it to anything that meant anything would be to define her with even less accuracy.

270. When the plaza briefly flooded with half-drunks each evening (and a number of flagrant, full blown cases) many of the vendors shut down, just not worth the headaches to them—mostly only the magazine vendors and some illegal peddlers of shoplifted cigarettes were excited for this migration of lushes, they made enough, usually, to guarantee they could drown themselves dumb in whatever hooch they chose, later, not be worse off financially for it.

271. Alone along the street, traffic lights at blink-yellow, she swindled herself with daydream after daydream, cigarettes going from pack in pocket to lip to out at arms-length to lip—again again again again—a wheel she was quite unaware of.

272. His grandfather bequeathed him a single pack of vintage Marigold Blue cigarettes, so to give the doddering coot the heartiest ‘Fuck you’ he could think of under Heaven, Norman spent the evening down on Peak Street, passing the sticks out to scrounging foreign homeless and transvestite under-agers.

273. Now Edvard’s sister was a whole different kind of a thing—she had eyes like a medicine show, an ass like some bottle that could be bought there, spoke like gypsy cigarettes and would betray a lover to their wife over them mispronouncing a word she was fond of.

274. The week went kick-the-can, Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday, then Friday was a deadfall into a barren apartment sloshed in cigarettes and a half-gallon of the unhealthiest vodka he could buy.

275. This man reading over his application results had a persona like malt powder, Jeremy already thinking ahead to being disappointed outside, clamped to a cigarette, putting off the phone call to Darlene.

276. Another boilerplate rejection letter, this time from a place with two editors he knew personally—good God, he was feeling less a writer, more a brain on a soggy belly that was nothing but a storm drain taking cigarette after rain soaked cigarette down it.

277. Only certain women could use the word Yummy with an actual degree of eroticism to it, this woman not one of those, but as far as company to keep for a few cigarettes and then a dish of stew at a local pub he’d never have to set foot in again she was top hole.

278. Whatever sense of elation there had been tobogganed quickly to guilt, unease, and the five dollars he would have spent on cigarettes went instead to a shitty little rose bought from a gas station, the price sticker of which he couldn’t peel all the way clean off the stiff plastic wrapping.

279. Morphine went the noon away, cigarette went the five o’clock, morphine went the midnight away, cigarette went the waking stiff—another day then another, a week before she’d be forced to cobble up some new pattern.

280. It was a blitzkrieg of cigarettelessness, the horror coming out of nowhere and nowhere the sight of an end to it.

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241-260

241. He had milk for blood and not even half a cigarette for every sin in him.

242. The frown on her face a wrong bent staple, the sort of mouth that seemed to not even have a place for a cigarette to fill, she graveyarded the room with tensed shoulders and looks in the direction of the window meant to be piercing the flesh of poor Michael.

243. Looking a mud puddle in the borrowed coat, he flicked cigarette to wall-boink-pavement, the motion a dart, quick, hiding salamander, pushed his way in the already a crack open shop door and asked if it was alright he just come in to dry off, get a little warmth to his face.

244. Crust of sleep window-silled both eyes, belch breaking the drain clog down his throat, ghosts of the cigarettes he’d breathed down all night—not ghosts fucking ghouls.

245. Three old letters from his father, the aged pencil lead now was like the thoughts had been lettered by cigarette, three old love letters, two to his mother when she was his mother, one to his mother when she was some girl he didn’t know how to spell the name of right—Mya, the salutation read.

246. Even just starting the orgasm he felt his cock shrink, flop down, a wet anthill, Kellie still moving like she wasn’t sure (or hadn’t noticed) he’d finished, then just lolling to one side, sitting upright to the wall that doubled as headboard, the crinkle of the cigarette pack she already knew from earlier was empty tapped, fisted to a ball, the pit pat of it hitting the wall, the carpet.

247. It was the fourth time he’d lent the man a cigarette, but the first time he’d heard his old man’s voice, crumb filled, words were flakes discarded from shoe bottoms, speech an unvaccumed carpet.

248. Perhaps there was energy to their collaboration, enough it might even be called a friendship—perhaps if looked at closely, investigated with a patient rhetoric, but at just a glance they were merely entities next to each other, day to night, week to week, month to year, their interactions handled with the precision of cigarette machine operators.

249. Timid, Carlton didn’t trust his impression, too many ideas had soaked to his understanding of people, too much weight of general wisdom to trust his own take—these mothers, while their kids played, seemed sitting with eyes lusting cigarette tip smolders at the fathers, the unattached men, at Carlton himself, but he could not move himself to approach a single one of them.

250. Last night her slumber had been viscous, dreams like plump black lips of dogs, she’d woke with mouth too dry for a cigarette, throat too sore for coffee, no appetite for even the bread she was toasting, knife, butter spread tub already out, opened, tap running water but she not touching the cup she’d taken out from the dishwasher.

251. Shakespeare, tarnished engraving on the cigarette case she handed across—lighted fools the way to dusty death it read—he wondered if she’d be impressed he could finish the line, moved a shoulder around like a wind up but said nothing, suddenly unsure was this Macbeth, Lear, one of the Richards.

252. The hospital always seemed the color of a cankersore, the façade seemed to positively bruise with the combined longings of the dying inside for a cigarette or an honest laugh at one of the jokes occurring to them between pen marks from nurses and stethoscopes to their now purposeless ribs.

253. The pen leaked through his shirt pocket, pores leaked bourbon through his light lemon cologne, mouth leaked cigarette over the day’s salt coating his lips, pocket spilled coin after coin into the payphone to keep the conversation going, though the conversation had already gone rotten.

254. If he could be seen from above it would be quite beautiful, a dot on the bridge he crossed over the faucet rush of traffic—exhaust from city buses, taxicabs, commuter cars, long traveling goods trucks, his own and the cigarettes from others walking the bridge a cloud layer under the cloud layer above him over this cloud layer beneath.

255. Cynthia curled the ideal smirk, her city bought cigarette not even bobbing.

256. This duck billed little woman, she’d beamed so pleased with the ketchup through her little meal it didn’t surprise him at all that she utilized the squeezed contents of another whole packet to stub her finished cigarette out in.

257. Samuel patted the steam damp towel to his face, soft of it impregnated with a sour scent of mildew and his brother’s cigarettes, replaced it back over the bar more neatly than he’d found it, already regretting his fresh shaven face in the blur glass reflection.

258. Under his touch, her breasts gave like mealy apples—the cigarette was still in his mouth, his chin on her shoulder as she likely stared off malcontented (but no, she took the smoke from his lips and put it to hers and said ‘Last time.’)

259. Time seemed reversed, the cigarette of spring lit by the flame of the not arrived summer.

260. At least the radio was coming in again Johnny are you queer? no change to the blankscape around him I went down Virginia dotting through the dial, everything under static eyelids and punched my cigarette a real tease of something great on every drinking a pina colda at Trader Vic’s goddamned middle of noplace wavelength.

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221-240

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.

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201-220

201. Toothpaste still lined my teeth, as much as the fur of plaque it likely did nothing to combat, the perfect soil for another cigarette.

202. As soon as the temperature got enough to make a sniffle, Gwendolyn would up the heater, keep her apartment puke-warm and dress in nothing but Sullivan’s old shirt from his job at the arcade—and dressed this way, she’d coil herself around cigarettes under blankets on the sofa watching films she’d borrow and never return.

203. Shumbling the empty classroom, he breaked for a cigarette, sitting on the floor where he assumed there’d once been the teacher’s desk, noted the small handwritten somethings he didn’t bother to read, chickenpox of maybe poetry or lewd notes on the olive paint over the cinderblock walls.

204. His tongue rolled around, this cheek then that then settled like a marble in a cup bottom back to its place, froth, the held cigarette inhale mixing with enough saliva the swallow was thick and long, made him hiccup.

205. This motherfucking talcum powder he’d spilled a mess of was giving him a headache—on top of which he couldn’t stomach a cigarette, felt the powder was still microscopic everywhere, getting down in him with the drags, would settle in his lungs and sicken him, and then also the mix of the stuff with the usually pleasant scent of the microwaving pizza nearing ready was wrecking his appetite hard.

206. Wall to his ear, the catcalls of termites were evident, the big bellied louts ready to leave his home pauper thin, stick figure—screwing his only just lit cigarette into one spot made him feel better a moment, but then even if the things noted his anger in one hot moment before there was a just an ash spot he would be left to wipe up, in the next moment they’d stuff his shelter down themselves faster to make up for the bits that dribbled out from their guffawing maws.

207. ‘Rasputin,’ Starla said, breaking ten slow minutes silence, reclining the passenger seat back and now unable to see over the dash, ‘he knew just how to be—he’d have invented the cigarette if somebody hadn’t already.’

208. He was going in to his pocket, absently asked the panhandler what he’d use the few bucks for, panhandler saying ‘Need cigarettes, something to do since I can’t keep warm,’ and so he said he could just give him the cigarettes he’d just bought not five minutes before from the grocery store, panhandler saying ‘How bout the smokes and a few bucks—I’ll still need something to do when I’m still not warm later.’

209. Though it was easy enough to keep his sneer to himself, Mister Briggs could already see the fat man this boy would grow up to be, just plain as day saw the plumper full grown with dandruff white coat shoulders and cigarette ash grey shirt belly watching television with no sound in a restaurant alone once a week.

210. Fever not broken, two days in now, past shakes into brittle stiffness from no cigarettes, whole body felt dog-eared, marked to remember each ache.

211. He could smell the chlorine from the swimsuit his sister had left in the bathroom since yesterday and out in the side yard heard the fizzle of a half pack of matches stuck-extinguished as someone was holding stubborn against the wind for a cigarette, likely cupped to the stucco of the wall beneath the half open window he was hearing out through.

212. Bridget was the sort who was enamored of the shape of her skull, even considered ‘her eyes’ the holes in the thing rather than her penguin black pupils, tea brown and cigarette beige around them, those just grime she saw things with, her real eyes these even-there-in-death cavities meant for people to dare each other to peek in, poke fingers through.

213. The sign on one place loutishly proclaimed We Sell Cigarettes!—but everyplace sold cigarettes, she’d bought hers just at the other end of this mangy, frostbitten strip mall, so what was it made this place think a proclamation was needed?

214. Did the drivers all mark him, did they know he was chaining these cigarettes and walking dog circles from bench end to lobby wall because he didn’t want any of the first three of them (had his heart set on the fifth one back, who at least was reading a paperback and not just eating—what was it, porridge?—out of Styrofoam bowls) would he have to go back inside to buy another pack before someone else needed a ride somewhere?

215. The burger from earlier felt like two hands of dropped pennies down there, mineral sweet gurgles trilling up her throat, coming out in burps about as long as finger snaps, but before she looked for a toilet she blatted her only three drag smoked cigarette into a mash on the sidewalk, giving a straight look to the vulture do-nothings taking up all the benches over there (even still though they’d probably come over, see if there were any bones of it to peck at, even just a suck’s worth left scabbed to the filter).

216. This alleged gallery still hadn’t opened, though each day four cigaretted guys would go in and out in and out in and out, and now there were no longer the signs affixed to the inside of the windows (which he’d never read or examined the photos on) explaining exactly what it would be when it did.

217. Gerry felt just about like that broken skeleton of everyone’s cigarette scraps in the ashtray they all glanced for but never noticed the color of.

218. The cigarette he’d been playing with, tunneling into the spirals of the notebook, well now it was stuck in such a way the pages wouldn’t splay straight, his writing all off balance and the light causing pesky shadows to flicker with each wrist movement.

219. All he could think about, wide awake—wide wide wide awake but not moving—was how many cigarettes he’d have to pretend he didn’t have while he walked from Field’s Station to the office, the autumn leafing nicotine addicted homeless, two for every three cracks in the pavement.

220. He pumped his gas in his unbelted pants, jiggling tugs at them, an alarming number of stepped out cigarettes slimed in the puddles of gasoline he tried to avoid but couldn’t—and that blue juice for cleaning the windshield had fourteen or fifteen glug glugging the surface of it.

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181-200

181. Daphne was a whole different sort of creature, fucked like she had aims on replacing the sky and in the morning would sit on his toilet while he shaved, smoking her cigarette and narrating back what were her favorite portions of what she’d had him do.

182. Fireflies strode around, what a lot of rascals, the fumes of his cigarette mixing with the blips of where they’d moved do, disappeared, moved to.

183. After twenty minutes he just gave up on the extension cord, wrapped the part he’d untangled around his wrist three times, pulling tight until his fingers all lost blood, went cigarette white, tingled, and then he relaxed and let the chill of life returning to them spread as much through him as he could.

184. The clerk pointed to a wrong pack, another, another (finally getting the right brand when he said ‘Those ones about the size of a pill bottle’) and then made some bashful small talk, not red with embarrassment but a shade more pink, saying how he didn’t smoke cigarettes, said it seemed weird these weren’t cheaper since they didn’t have the filters.

185. All evening Tony smoked, passing the cigarette hand-to-hand between each drag, air of a fellow who’d shown up for the funeral of someone he’d never found time to apologize to.

186. There was a particular woman he’d seen one autumn, remembered everything about that few minutes—her ten-cent eyes and the aplomb of her dousing a cigarette in the last of the lemonade she’d ordered, her plum colored coat shoulders, her uncovered mouth coughing as she crossed through the parking lot, and the sound of more coughs while he’d seen her waiting for the signal to turn at the crosswalk.

187. Both men chuckled I-don’t-know faces at each other, took turns giving hard looks around, both with it in mind to use the coffee cup left on the bench center as receptacle for their done cigarettes, one of them thinking the man reading the newspaper had been drinking it and might be back for it, the other thinking, no, it was that other man who was laughing with some bike riders who’d pulled up at the curb.

188. In the unlit mirror, he took this or that position, giving himself stern regard, comparing his musculature to hers, looking for similarities—he wanted the cigarette feminine of her forearms to thin wrists, had grown to hate the masculine lack of bones showing on his hand backs.

189. In the rock covered path of the garden, Roman began to remark not so much the obscure bits of litter—a syringe, a toy shark, some playbills, portions of burst balloons and other whole balloons still tied and gone airless—but how for every rock there seemed to be a piece of cigarette, so much the rocks seemed just as ill belonging as them.

190. He watched her dress, how she did it between swallows in of smoke, cigarette then set to the sink counter—the cotton of the same green dress as always, it was a kind of fox fur over fresh leather how she made it to her shape.

191. In the smeared baubles of the past midnight traffic, she lost sight of the hearse, kept looking for its cigarette long as the road opened up and she drove faster, intent of making up time she hadn’t really lost—even the next day she still kind of looked, waited an extra five minutes in parked car through radio commercials at each rest stop, thinking it might be just about to pull in.

192. First gentle, then teeth tight, she sucked the length of his tongue, giggling and still unbuttoning her blouse, and soon he could scent the cigarettes he’d been smoking all night in her breath, kissed her more aggressively, took both his fistfuls of her hair and stumble dragged her, both laughing at the sound of the coins falling from his pants dragged along like an obsolete tail from where they still clung to one of his ankles, until they managed to find a wall for him to press her against.

193. In the apartment she felt progressively more hidden, each turned over short glass of vodka muting and dimming the thought of any world but the radio she sang along to with more disregard for lyrics or tune, each cigarette making her voice more sour-frog.

194. The neighborhood kids he’d paid to shovel the snow from his driveway were passing a cigarette between them—one must have been no more than seven, the girl he knew was called Christine and was only just in high school, the boy who seemed oldest not much older than her—and he watched over the lukewarming coffee he wasn’t drinking, wondering, as an adult, if there was something he ought to be doing about this.

195. Tonight seemed listless, the dark confused and going nowhere—we thought maybe each speck of it was wanting our cigarettes, not minding what it ought to be doing, not acting like night, just wanting to borrow a drag, get close enough to hear what we were saying, but our voices were kept so low even all night couldn’t get at our secrets.

196. Then he tried C-minor, A-major, D-minor, B-flat, E-sharp with a few wrong notes mixed in—which chord sounded the most like a cigarette, which the most like a steamboat, which the most like some beggar wishing the fog were a roof and some walls?

197. Two left in the pack, but they were her cigarettes and so he really would rather not smoke them—the bark of her shouting lurked the empty rooms, still, wouldn’t get off him, the wet and sting of a snowball.

198. Every customer who came in, he’d watch them browse videos, ponder them nude—this one, her body seemed, if revealed, would be about as interesting as the plot of an outdated paperback, the only sensual thing about her the tight square of cigarettes in her back pocket.

199. On days where Julia could see Jessica, even just for a cigarette, it was an Indian summer, tobacco odored talk about the most trivial things—days when she couldn’t, those were soundless winters surrounded by the promise of Hell.

200. Kyle’s brother tried to explain Wendy to him but it was all such arcana—these claims of his that she sang English songs in French, laughed in German, held grudges over ungiven cigarettes in a diaspora Greek.

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161-180

161. I was gaseous but stretched solid from the bottom of my gut to the top of my throat, hardly room in me for the cigarettes I kept scarfing, my out breaths were from inhales that didn’t even cram all the way full my mouth.

162. Tonia was the sort of person who never could settle on what was grey and what was blue—acceptable when she was talking about ocean water, sure, not so much at all when she stammered uncertain about the appearance of her cigarette smoke.

163. Without his glasses, the streets were gaslight flat and voices came always from out of a sharp gloom he could make out no better than he could his insides—the cigarette was a defense, a reason to keep his head down, a way to convince himself he was not a waiting victim for whoever might fancy a gobble.

164. Why there was a coat rack behind his table, let alone two sodden, ladies’ jackets and a scarf draped over it, he could not understand—it made him self-conscious of his cigarettes, the longer part of his meal and after-meal drinks spent giving the restaurant floor secret glimpses, trying to eye women who were growing irritated at his inconsiderate behavior toward their garments.

165. Her hands were still pond water clammy and there was a clay aspect to the cold skin of her face, she looked a combination of wax and bent cigarette, and the insomniac drawl to her voice, the sleepwalker kick to her gestures would make anyone believe in cast out apparitions.

166. The scent of his cigarette got to the top of the stairwell far before him, would be waiting there in an hour, share his shame all the way back down.

167. The coffee and glazed doughnut had taken care of the bleeding, the lost tooth itself fisted tight, likely leaving a mark of itself in his palm, and the cigarette tasted of sugar and licking his fingers after childhood knee scraps.

168. Too spent, warm, luxuriant to bother standing to find someplace better, she rolled, shifted to one side, and with gingerly stabs doused the cigarette on the damp area of the bed sheet—he’d like that, she figured, more anyway than just another singe on the unpainted wall.

169. The cabdriver pulled over and a friend (a fellow driver?) got in, both bathing the closed vehicle in cigarette, taking turn after turn he had no way of knowing were proper.

170. Her friend was an actor, so she automatically assumed he thought himself handsome despite his untrimmed toenails in the scrappy sandals he was wearing, despite his cigarette stain tan to his elbows, the way his face wrinkled like tinfoil when he laughed.

171. Paulette guessed wrong Sherri’s brand of cigarette, guessed wrong again later, too, but still would not just let Sherri tell her, said given enough time she’d remember, there was some hump she’d gotten smelled just like it and she usually was good about noticing which kind of cigarette she was offered next morning.

172. The five dollars in winnings wouldn’t pay to borrow a leftover from somebody’s ashtray—cigarettes were elusive now, the hardest loss, a part of himself he didn’t get for the night, and the part of him he was left with to lug around was basically just an earache and too much pride to call for a ride home.

173. The music in this place was a kind of leprosy, the only thing he could do was keep going outside for a cigarette, coming back in but saying he needed the toilet, another cigarette in the stall, glad if someone was grunting or leaking enough to drown the din out even just for a shit-length.

174. It wouldn’t take long for the men’s eyes to turned poison-veined—the only woman in here, they circled her, a month’s worth of matches with only one cigarette to flame between them.

175. November and December the cigarettes were the worst, shared around with visiting friends and his brothers and their wives.

176. The secondhand bookshop down Gulver Commons Road was the only one that allowed smoking—every employee a cigarette dangling and dusting ash on the hand written receipts—the only one with pages that smelled right, and the more a book reeked the more she loved it, imagining the loitering thumbs of time wasters reading it, deciding against it, leaving it for her to take off to bed.

177. When it got too cold to step out for cigarette breaks, the conversations became more philosophical—Camus might have written something about this, or something about the philosophy of prisoners, which just about equaled the same.

178. The only thing he regretted of the entire encounter was the cigarette he gave her wouldn’t stain her teeth the same as the wine she shared would his.

179. The rest of the afternoon his pockets were one of them empty, the other nickel-dime thin, his chest was heartbeats and soiling in-outs of cigarette, but his mind was a dusk that knew just how beautiful it was, godforsaken as he may be.

180. Giles tendered over the bills he had (looked like they’d been chewed on) for a pack of off brand cigarettes, the clerk kind enough to tell him ‘Nevermind’ about the dollar he was short, a sad false lemon of the shop’s humid mop water following him a few blocks after he left.

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