A Story About Cigarettes by Gordon White

May 6, 2013 § 1 Comment

Right, so there was time I was in this bar. I don’t remember where, although I do remember some guy shouting at me in some language I know I don’t know, but that doesn’t really narrow it down.

It was some bar, the kind you stumble into on a Wednesday night and are thankful for something on the TV and a glass that you don’t have to wash. But it wasn’t a Wednesday. No, I know it wasn’t Wednesday because it was a Wednesday crowd and that just made it feel sad.

I was there and she was there and there was this other girl, drinking alone at the end of the bar. I didn’t know either of them, but I hadn’t seen the new one before. Or maybe I had, if it was a bar I went to a lot. Either way, the dim lights and the woman beside me had my mind drifting off into the music and down to the end of the bar. We were smoking a pack of Camels we’d split at the gas station and it reminded me of counting out coins at a machine for a pack of Camels with this other girl I used to know but pretended not to. One by one we burned them, blowing cancer sideways into each other’s faces as she looked sad and I looked down.

As the night smoldered away, I took great pleasure in thinking that I was slowly killing each of these Wednesday night fucks who had come down to stare at the personal desert between me and the her beside me. I ordered more drinks, twisting the brown paper butts between my fingers, fraying the edges as I obsessed in the minutiae of my almost microscopic destruction. My eyes sat in the ashtray, pulled up only to glance down the bar at the new her, wondering all sorts of things that I’m not ashamed to say I don’t remember now.

At some point she got up and left, the one beside me. She may have told me she was powdering her nose or taking a piss or maybe she even told me to fuck off and go to hell. I’ve been told worse by better and been hurt by things both more terrible and less important than anything she could have said anyway. But I looked into the pack of Camels, two left from a full pack earlier in the evening, so I put one in my mouth and lit it up. I sorted of floated down to the end of the bar, where she was still sitting, still sipping alone.

“Can I give you a smoke?” I hand her the last one.

“I only smoke Parliaments,” and then she turned away.

What?  Yeah, that’s it. I don’t remember either of her names, either of her faces. But I remember it was Camels, but she only smoked Parliaments.

And I know we were smoking, so it wasn’t New York.

© 2013 Gordon White

Gordon White lives in New York.  His poetry has appeared in several journals, including Danse Macabre, Shadow Road Quarterly, and Curio Poetry.  He maintains a website of diverse interests at www.grizzlyspectacles.com

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