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November 21, 2022
"Mes de los Muertos"

Meanderings 12

By Basil D.

Planting a Cigarette Bomb

Once upon a time, when the world was younger and Michael Jackson looked human, I attended high school. Being an athlete, there were a number of activities I was not supposed to engage in, and one of them was smoking. Now, at our school back in the day, 11th and 12th graders could smoke if they had a permit from their parents. Yes, it seems kinda bizarre that a school would allow students to smoke, but there you go. It was just a sign of the times, I guess.

Being your typical high-schooler, I rebelled at the notion that I couldn't smoke, especially since I'd started in the 10th grade. My answer to the school's declaration that I couldn't smoke was simple: I sneaked out to the smoking corner at the back of the school every day during morning recess and smoked em' up with my buddies. I'd slouch against the wall, puffing quickly and looking around the corner for any teacher who might be sneaking up on us. I did eventually get caught, but that experience and my payment for my transgression is for another time.

One morning we were all puffing away, and my friend Curtis pulled a small box out of his pocket. "Check em' out. Cigarette poppers."

I blew a thick plum of smoke over the box. "Cigarette poppers? What's that?"

Curtis opened the box, shook several tiny cigar-shaped paper objects into his palm, and held them out to me for inspection. "They're like miniature firecrackers. You stick one in the end of a cigarette, give it to somebody, and when they light it -- Pow!" He grinned with delight. "Time to test one out."

He pulled a cigarette out of the pack in his shirt pocket, and carefully pushed three of the poppers into the end. "There. The first cigarette moocher we get this morning is in for a real surprise."

I frowned. "Three of those things in one cigarette isn't going to hurt anybody, is it? You don't want to blow somebody's fingers off or something."

He shook his head as he pushed the cigarette back into the pack. "Nope, it says on the box that they're guaranteed safe. You can't hurt a fly with these things." His eyes lit up with wicked glee. "Let's just wait for a victim."

Our victim stepped around the corner. Homer was your archetypical country boy. He was the spitting image of the guy on the Mad Magazine covers, a buck-toothed, slow talking, slow walking good ol' boy. With his close-cropped, sandy hair, skinny, bowlegged shuffling walk and crooked-toothed grin, Homer looked like he belonged on an episode of Hee Haw. He would grow up to become a rather dangerous, very unpredictable brawler, but fortunately for us, at this time he was still a non-violent goof-ball. Curtis and I looked at each other. Homer was one of the worst cigarette mooches in our group -- a guy who never had a smoke or a light, but always had a strong desire. This looked promising.

"Any-bo-dy got a cig?" Homer asked, looking around at the semi-circle of people standing and grinning at him like he'd just made the cleverest remark in the world.

"Sure thing, bro. Here y'are." Curtis flipped out his pack, with the loaded cig sticking out. Homer reached out and took it between his calloused country-boy fingers.

"Need a light, Homer ?"

"Yea-uh."

Curtis handed him his bic lighter. We all stood expectantly, eyes shining with excitement and a sense of impending glee. Oh, this would be good. Homer placed the cigarette in his mouth, lifted the lighter, lit and inhaled deeply.

BLAM! The end of the cigarette blew completely apart. It looked like one of those cartoon guns that explodes and the splintered end curls back in a smoking ruin. Homer stood there, blinking stupidly, his head wreathed in smoke, the cigarette still in his lips. He carefully removed it from his mouth, picked a sliver of tobacco from his lip, and looked around at us.

"Day-yum. I thought the lighter blowed up."

You don't get moments like this just anywhere. There's a lot to be said for living in the country.

Article © Basil D.. All rights reserved.
Published on 2005-03-20
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