The Smoke

Sep 4, 2019 | Prose and Poetry

Spencer’s hooded brown eyes skirted uneasily along the lengths of the crowded living room as beads of sweat begun to form on his balding forehead. He wanted to pretend he hadn’t noticed the sign at the entrance to the premises that had explicitly forbidden the one thing he lived for at this very moment: a good old smoke.

Spencer was in a hell of his own making, one he could have easily avoided had he not set step aboard the bus and shown up to the memorial. He loathed himself for the unhealthy obsession he had to please people, a habit he could not escape even when the subject in question was not there to demand it.

The sound of a carrot stick snapping, of kitchen appliances whirring from another part of the house, of the voices of emotionally troubled guests speaking in hushed, sad tones made his head want to explode. Why was he even here, at the memorial of a woman who had made him feel imprisoned in a cage for all of his professional life? The one release he sought lay in his back pocket, the tobacco practically singing out his name, begging to be in his blood stream.

But even in death, Clarissa Gonzalez owned his ass. His boss had chided him on his smoking habits before, having caught him the first time in the office and never again.

“That’s filthy, Spencer. You’re filthy. I catch you smoking on these premises again and I’ll smoke you, got it?”

Clarissa’s voice rung in Spencer’s memory as he snapped back to reality, his back hitting the wall as another posse of Clarissa’s mourners passed by him. That old crow was the one who got him smoking to begin with. All those late hours, early morning coffee runs, verbal assaults and humiliating taunts had done him over.

But now Clarissa was dead. He guessed he could say she was being smoked in a little place down south. Spencer chuckled and with a triumphant grin, snuck a hand into his back pocket only to catch air.

The cigarette was missing.

“Damn it Clarissa.”

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