Monday, February 20, 2012

An Old Smoking Friend

He took a long drag on a cigarette and leaned forward, watching the passing vehicles with interest, happily smiling, and talking to his friend. They were sitting on the front steps of a building. It was their lunch break after hours of hard work, painting and repairing an old shopping complex.

He had just finished half of his lunch. The rice was hard and cold, with salted fish and jungle vegetables. But that was all he could afford, and he must find and muster the energy to work.

He had a cigarette between his fingers, his usual 'dessert' after a meal. He looked inside the cigarette box, examining slowly the last few sticks, before retrieving the lighter inside. Then the terrible sound, half coughing, and half clearing the throat, before he lit the cigarette.

Then he looked at the passing traffic and took a long drag on the cigarette....

The pictures of the cancer diseases on the cigarette box didn't bother him. They never would, never on the long-term, elderly and heavy smokers, though they looked very scary and ugly to me. Old habit dies hard, really hard!

I breathed a sigh of relief. It had been a long while since I kicked the habit.

I looked at him for a long, long while, recognizing him as an old friend.

He looked much older, thinner and frailer, though I was his senior in school many years ago...

The old man burst into a laugh, smiling and talking to his friend, probably something funny.

But he didn't notice me, or was he avoiding me? I remained a distant stranger to him.

The old man took the last long drag on the cigarette, before he threw it and stepped on it....

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