Tuesday, January 24, 2023



I took a drag from my cigarette. I preferred to roll them. I foolishly thought if I made them myself I could control my addition. I would know exactly what was going into the papers. I never stopped to think that unless I grew and harvested what I would be smoking, I was eliminating no risk to my health. I’m not certain at that moment in my life I cared or had any concept of consequences. The youth always feel alive, burning bright with stupid decisions and risks and I was no exception.

I wish this was a cautionary tale of the dangers of long term dangers of smoking with black lungs and cancer granules. I can’t say if that’s better or worse than what I lived through but from where I’m sitting now…well, let’s just say I wish I had used better judgement. 


From across the street it looked like a movie. Time slowed and what was surely less than a few minutes felt like hours to anyone close enough to witness the catastrophe. No one was entirely sure how it started, though it was likely just the right combination of chemicals. Between her hair product, perfumes, and the way she carried that paper bag of gin like it was Thursday night for the homeless, she combusted with just a spark of her lighter.

At first it just looked like a quick burst of fire in the air from the various fumes surrounding her. Then her long black hair caught. Then she dropped the bottle and the gin exploded at her feet. She screamed and everyone just watched. Bystander effect in full swing no one moved to call for help. The crowd stood in stunned silence as the impossible unfolded before them.

Finally the owner of a nearby diner ran to her with a small extinguisher. She had collapsed by then. There was the sound of insistent sirens in the distance and a nauseating smell in the air. The little old man gripped that red cylinder as though he had done it a thousand times and sprayed. She whimpered, not moving. The old man beamed as he stood guard and waited for the ambulance. Someone wrote an article about him that day commending his fast thinking when the rest of the street stood in standstill. When she developed frostbite along with her second and third degree burns it turned into a media shit storm. Legal action was threatened and his little diner nearly collapsed from the aftermath. 

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