The sky is a piece of shit. A painting a blind leper could’ve painted, a lot of grey mounted on a thin canvas of poor blue. Outside its raining and the air is colder than I need it to be. Standing shoulder to shoulder with me is an angel with demons, a ripped page from my immediate past. She looks good and she doesn’t recognize me without my vices. ‘Cause that’s the only way to see people, as representations of things you wouldn’t do.
No one else is in office, they’ll be in after lunch, that’s enough time, she reckons for us to have a smoke. It’s been so long, but you can never forget how those sleek cancer sticks taste in your mouth. (This sounds more like a PSA for smoking than it does for whatever it is am writing about.) Well, I hesitate, but I’ve always been impressionable. Self-restraint isn’t a virtue I’d want to waste my patience on.
We’re on the last floor of the building. Cool. Quaint. Pedestal-like. The windows are open, and the drizzle tickles our fore arms, and goose bumps spread like our gazes over the slow traffic on the street below. There’s no hooting, no whistling and no lewd angry remarks from those louts, the hush is almost as silent as the heavy intoxicated breaths circling our respiratory systems.
I don’t recognize her so calm, so at ease. Transcendent. But that’s the charm, isn’t it. That’s what the nicotine is here for, to forget. To be a haze. Or maybe it has just been that long. Maybe her calm is a filter for something graver.
She doesn’t say anything and we both feed the silence with stray thoughts, wary of what will come when the silence goes.
She flicks the cigarette butt into the traffic, and with a sly amused smile she waits for someone to react to having a cigarette butt on their windscreen, but nothing comes. She makes me do the same, and still nothing.
She lights up another pair, and another, and the sun comes out, and it has now become a game of waiting for someone to be offended. My lungs are, because am coughing like a mutherfucker, and staring at my watch. Only twenty minutes have passed.
Only twenty minutes.
Unless someone shouts from down there, unless this traffic morphs back into the bustle we both expect it to be, until I stand up and say sorry, I don’t think this was a good idea, we just might spend the whole pack here waiting for something outside our control to control us.
The traffic is denser now. It takes roughly five minutes for her to down a cigarette. The prospects are good. Basically, I have five minutes to decide which I like more, being insulted by a faceless driver, or offending someone whose only goal is to offend. Basically am fucked. ‘Cause, anymore, it’s liberating to have all my choices taken away for me.
One, two, three… I start counting the seconds.