There’s a shady convenience store down by where my neighborhood changes from chain link fence to rubble and traffic lights. When I was young, I used to sneak to that store with the older kids and watch them pocket Bazooka gum and snack-sized bags of Munchos. That was in the days when it was just snacks that they put into their sweatshirt’s pockets. The oriental man that seemingly lived on a stool by the register, very matured in age, shouted at the young thieves convictionlessly. However, years later, the oriental man’s son often chatted with the now young men in hush’d tones and illicit words behind the coolers while I waited and admired the wall behind the counter. This wall was filled with shelves that gleamed with wax seals on thick cigars, assortments of cigarillos, wrapping papers and arrays of tobaccos, and ornate glass smoking pieces. I always dreamt of when I’d be old enough to have one of those cigars, and a matching sophisticated lighter. It wasn’t very long after that that I was, supposedly, ‘old enough’. When I learned I could walk in, give the little oriental man’s son three dollars and a svelte smile, and walk out with a cheapo Swisher Sweet, there was no turning back. I could Walter Mitty my way through the daily grind by a newfound habit with a long-time friend. Today, I bought a handful of cigars, handfuls really. Tonight I’d smoke myself out in an empty house.
    I hope the whole neighborhood doesn’t hear the smoke that rolls out my windows each time I’m left alone. I live in the moment when I breath the sickly-sweet embargo smoke that tastes like sawdust and Comstock  cherries; the kind a lazy grandma puts in her pies. I singe and then engulf the head of a Cuban in flint-fueled flames. I’d not dare light a cigar with butane. The smell of the dense beast permeates my nostrils and encapsulates my endorphins. It’s a rich smoke that I selfishly keep to myself, as if all of me depends on it. I smoke this cigar hoping the whole neighborhood won’t steal my wealth.
    Inevitably, sometimes my smoke escapes me. Tonight being one of the nights that the leftovers which have washed the sins from my own lungs gyrate out the open windows and crawl over concrete playgrounds to ravish another. Into open doors and holey walls, it saunters propitiously. Ghetto mamís fixing their hair, like in contemporary fairy tales, are never aware of the way my smoke wafts around their extensions. Nonetheless, it does. Doors down, men are sitting around a square table where there are more bodies than chairs as the salubrious smoke matures. Simultaneously, the fog graciously introduces itself to young entrepreneurs squatting around a handful of dice and exchanging feeble, green bills. The men rose and let their senses lead them to me. I knew them all from the short walks to the mailbox I take nearly everyday. They all know my name somehow, and they know the smoke; my signature.
    Abruptly, my harmonious fantasizing and warm, somber crying was interrupted. They had stopped what they were doing and walked over to my door, the men, they had. Beggars packing heat were nearing my fortress and my smoke could no longer provide me shield and shelter.  A handful of sausage-like fingers rapped on my door, but it was obviously a formality. Ill-willed men barged through my door and began seizing my unlit beauties and my troves of sentimental treasures. I do believe they thought I had left, and it was only the smoke that I had smoked that lingered. Helpless, I hid. Partial to my fortunes, I felt pieces of my entity fleeing with each grab made by stout, grubby hands. The same thieving digits that once pocketed cheap snacks. It was soon that I heard useless work boots clunking up the stairs.  A small swath of smoke sought refuge with me, but that was all.
Written by m_abbott1999 (Madi)
All writing remains the property of the author. Don't use it for any purpose without their permission.
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