Eleven Cigarettes By Chloe Wicklund

May 5, 2016 Comments Off on Eleven Cigarettes By Chloe Wicklund

Evan Candor met time on a Saturday morning.

That was the way they’d said it; that was the way he’d heard it.

It took him eleven cigarettes, not that he was counting.

He puffed on another one as he looked out into the distance. Not at anything. There ain’t shit out there. Some great dark expanse with nothing but a couple of paisley handkerchiefs dropped by second-rate hippies been smoking too much dope.

Damn, that’s not good enough. Nothing’s good enough.

“He’s looking for Nietzsche,” one of them says. Not the cigarettes. The cigarettes don’t talk shit.

No whispers.

No talking.

One of them.

“Niche,” one of them corrects. “Nietzsche’s old hat. The mine’s dead there, dried up and shriveled. That’s what you get when you don’t think nothing means shit.”

“What’s with the cigarettes?”

Even Candor didn’t know.

Time is a call girl.

You get what you pay for.

You keep on looking and you still can’t see.

That’s what they say.

“He’s meeting her?” one of them says. They call this one the Double-D, because she’s bigger than the rest.

What they say, what they say.

The cigarettes used to help.

“You’re wasting your time,” one of them says, a hand on Candor’s shoulder, pious-like with a hint of contempt. Like a father. “Keep on looking, and looking, and looking.”

You’ll never really see what you’re looking for.

Just look at the cigarettes.

Cigarettes don’t talk.

“Time is a bitch, and you ain’t getting shit,” Double-D rings, because she’s the backbone and the bulldozer and the glutton. Come to rip the boy to shreds, for all his eleven cigarettes.

Not true, not true.

Take that in the solar plexus with the ashes you’ve been dropping.

“Time is lovely if you get it right,” the father one says. The father one is a wise man. Too bad he’s long dead, beaten with the horse that Nietzsche loved.

“The boy’s running. He’s afraid of something. When you can’t pay the bitch, the pimp catches up.”

Time speaks for itself.

“Aye, he knows what it is. Stag-nation.”

Who?

“Eleven cigarettes?” Right.

The problem is stagnation. Evan Candor can look into that damn cigarette, but what can he see, really? He ain’t gonna see shit ‘till he quits trying to find something.

“He’s breaking down. Screaming to the world.”

Don’t you get it?

Don’t you listen?

“Don’t listen. Hear it, boy.”

I quit puffing the damn things long ago. That’s when they started to whisper … speak to me in poetry. Warped my brain. Like it’ll do to Evan Candor, but I let it go.

Don’t let it go to your head.

Eleven cigarettes is all it takes to pay back time.

© 2016 Chloe Wicklund

Chloe Wicklund is ordinary. She hates Jon Bon Jovi. She likes absurdist fiction. She’s searching for the platonic form of a cardboard box, but who isn’t these days?

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