N and I stand outside a bar called Bukowski. It is across from our apartment. A girl plods on past. She is crying; her whole body is crying. She is wearing rainbow socks. I pass N my cigarette. He takes a couple drags.
“Do you need a cigarette?” someone asks N. We turn. A man with two dark eyes is holding his pack out to N. N holds up his hand, politely.
“I’m trying to quit.”
The dark eyed man frowns.
N shrugs. “Death?” he wonders, taking a couple more drags off of my cigarette. The dark eyed man looks around the street. He laughs.
“What else is there to do in this city but die!” he says, suddenly. “All these people saying quit, quit, quit!”
He spits. “Why don’t they leave us alone. Everything here will kill you here; the roads, the cars, the water, the air, your neighbors. hell! Dennis killed all his neighbors with a base guitar.”
He motions to the man beside him. He has a patchy beard and glass eyes. He nods.
I smile, nervously. N takes another drag from my cigarette. The dark eyed man crosses both his arms, cigarette hanging from the corner of his mouth.
“You know, people always saying; no smoking, no smoking, NO SMOKING! You know, the other day I was in the park and I saw a man smoking. And, you know you can’t smoke in the park.”
N nods. I shrug.
“Well, he was smoking. So, just to see what it feels like, I went right up to him and said ‘you know buddy–I even said buddy–I said, buddy, there is no smoking in the park,’ I told him. You know, just to see what it would feel like.”
He puffs away.
“And?” I ask.
“And what do you think! I felt awful, terrible! The man just looked at me; saw straight through to my asshole, which is what I was, an asshole. I threw up all over the poor man.”
N makes a face. The dark-eyed man is all worked up. His face is red. His glass-eyed friend pats him on the back, comforting.
“Asshole,” his friend says, softly, motherly. The dark eyed man looks about to cry.
N finishes my cigarette.