These Men Wonder at a Star

It's warm. I've rolled my jeans to the knees. All sorts of people go by the house. One of the people is shirtless and running. Another is crying and hugging her purse.

A crying woman once asked me for a cigarette and I felt so awful for not having cigarettes. I was holding a small box of frozen mice and the crying woman thought it was a pack of cigarettes. I explained, but the woman was already walking.

I haven't smoked a cigarette in a few weeks. The last time I smoked a cigarette, I didn't really smoke it. I just held it in my fingers and my friend told me I held it like I was rich. No one taught me to smoke. I've watched my grandmother, though, and that's where I picked up the form. It's from when smoking was part of a person's social presentation. Everyone smoked in the past.

One of my friends has a vapor cigarette. It's a long, electronic tube of metal. The tip glows green when you suck in. It looks like a dog whistle for robot dogs. The vapor is flavored, but all the flavors are crushed candy. When you breathe out, the vapor is white and thick as pot smoke.

I saw some shirtless men sitting on their front stairs giving each other haircuts. I have a list of situations I find attractive. The haircuts one is only surpassed by the one where a gap-toothed man crosses the street carrying a case of beer on his shoulder. It's been a lucky week because I've come across both of these situations. The gap-toothed man wasn't smoking, but that's the optional ingredient in the recipe.

It's been a lucky month, really. My story, "Other Sons" from SmokeLong Quarterly, made the wigleaf top 50. I got my first check for a story you'll read in June. I looked in the mirror and smiled because I've been working out and I can finally see the change. I was around at the right time to watch my snake shed her skin. It was like watching someone try to take off their shirt after a workout. I wanted to help my snake, but I have this policy about disrupting the natural order of things.

I will swat a fly, though. If it needs doing.