Thicker Than Smoke

Memories didn’t smoke cigarettes, and neither did most twelve-year old boys, but Ken had spent enough time with his nephew Stewart to know that he wasn’t like most twelve-year old boys. And there he was, deathstick hanging from his mouth, wifebeater drenched in sweat.

“I been lookin’ for you,” Stewart said.



Stewart stubbed his smoke out on the lawn, now nearly gray with dehydration. Ken was annoyed. The whole yard was a tinderbox about to blow. He wordlessly gave the boy another cigarette anyway. Stewart grunted his appreciation.

Ken found himself saying, “He’d have been 34 today.”

Stewart replied without missing a beat, “And if a frog had wings he wouldn’t bump his ass a’ hoppin’.” He chuckled a little. Ken didn’t find it all that funny.

“Your grandfather teach you that?”

“Nah. I think I heard it on TV.”

“That’s not what I meant and you know it.”

And for a moment Stewart actually looked his age, a shamed and orphaned twelve-year old boy.

But only for a moment.

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