“You’re the last of a dying breed, you know.
Thank God,” the fancy young socialite snarked while boarding the #143 bus, Starbuck’s cup and iPhone firmly in manicured hand. Stockton Earnest, of the popularly unfamous North Jersey Earnest’s, flicked the long flaking ash of his cigarette in her general direction. The bus door hissed closed. Burnt tobacco floated to the ground where Chanel boots stood impatiently a second ago.
“Shit,” Stockton muttered, “I was gonna call her a bitch. You Bitch!”
The bus pulled away as the horn-rimmed twenty-something realized he’d missed it, a wonderful opportunity to put one of these motherfucking freelance anti-smoking activists in their place. That bitch.
Thick black clouds of ‘clean’ diesel fuel suffocated the remaining straphangers-in-waiting at the bus stop, leaving the modern commuters looking as if 1800’s Industrial London had just sprung up around the lot of them. Stockton clamped his mouth tight just after some soot settled on his tongue and, with his lungs now acceptably blackened, extinguished all of the deadly toxins lightly puffing from the cherry end of his hand-crafted smoke. He wouldn’t want to get anyone sick.
Buses come and buses go, yet Stockton stays seated on the bench. He was going nowhere, a sad fact that kept creeping into Stockton’ head while he sat waiting for some publicly-inspired inspiration to replace the negative thoughts boiling inside. The bus stop at Sixth and President Street in downtown Hoboken was where Stockton Earnest, the eternally soon-to-be-famous writer, went when the once mighty pen began to feel limp in his paralyzed hand.
Was there some unknown magnetic energy source deep under the ground of that creaky wooden bench at the corner of 6th and President that only spiritually tuned artist-types knew of? Did the natural and mysterious forces of the Earth itself congregate at that very
subterranean location to mediate disputes between gravity and quantum physics? Is the New Jersey underground where hydrogen electrons go to secretly pop their cherry and elope with Helium atoms? For all of humanities’ technology, the esoteric knowledge that could answer those questions was burnt up at Alexandria, as Caesar himself was enjoying the first Roman Holiday.
No, the only reason for Stockton to be at that bus stop was simply to watch the mundane aspects of human drama unfold. He was a lifelong loner who realized, when he first thought about turning his old journal into a great, important American novel, that he had no idea how other people naturally interacted with each other. The unnoticed subtleties of life were absent in his work, leaving his efforts stiffer than morning erections that he was too accustomed to handling manually. So when he was stuck on the finer points of social life, Stockton would pound it down to the bus stop up the street from his shared apartment —Hoboken was too pricey for any single artist to live alone—and attempt to draw inspiration from the organic world outside his dank bedroom walls.
Buses come and buses go, yet Stockton stays and rolls another cigarette. The Sun’s midday blaze nearly lights the neatly wrapped business end with no need for his recently sparked match. Stockton squints to find the sulfuric flame without burning his long auburn goatee, but his half-tint sunglasses were no match for Sol’s full-blaze fury. Judging distance to the pyre by factoring the strength of the prevalent rotten egg odor relative to his noses’ reaction to the hellish burn, Stockton ended up with a half-lit smoke and a singed beard. He turned to the left, he turned to the right, but the young blinded hippie couldn’t find a shadow that fit him. Some business people on the audible periphery chuckled and smugly grunted at poor Mr. Earnest, awkwardly fumbling to ignite his “death stick.” Very much did the young man know that many of those same important business people were old smokers who jumped Camel when the acceptable social vice turned from tobacco to cappuccino. Ah, caffeine—nature’s speed. Gods know that America can’t get through one work-hour without being jacked up on some coffee brand or another’s Special Blend Espresso nowadays, which would have been a train wreck towards economic disaster if Zoloft hadn’t been invented. Halleluiah and praise for fat bankers and tiny pill makers! Everything can now get back to normal, prescription fees paid upfront, please.
And speaking of getting back to normal, as soon as Stockton finally married fire to his instrument of relaxation, the reliably skittish Sun saw thunderstorms on the horizon and cheesed it. Lightning violent and cirrus minded, a new dark gang took over the skies. Fat drops of mean, grey cloud piss drenched away any hope for the wet cig’s long lasting, full flavored life. Fate enjoys the intentions of man. Those sparkling little dreams keep her toilet clean while swirling down the shit pipe.