Beaufus dabs her Newpah Kools in the Vegas chotchkie tray.
Her today hopes, crushed along with the filter nub.
Beaufus calls them Newpah Kools, even though there is no such thing as Newpah Kools.
Harlan gets her Newpah Kools for her.
She has an arrangement with Mr. Graves at the package store.
She’s known him all her life.
Mr. Graves allows her son to pick up her cigarettes, even though Harlan’s underage.
It is one of a few kindnesses that exist to her.
She used to go for her mother’s cigarettes, when she was a girl.
Beaufus don’t get out much.
Hot pink bingo daubers and snow globes of shitty places where it doesn’t snow, surround her, and are the only reminders of past adventures.
Those, and Harlan of course.
A soiled bandana gathers momentum across her enormous nape of neck.
Getting out of the chair requires too great an effort.
Droning infomercial plays on and convinces her that she needs that square, copper, red, all-purpose, non-stick pan.
As she lights another Newpah Kool, Harlan appears chocolate-faced and doughy.
Beaufus plunges a measured thumb into her maw and licks the tip, beckoning Harlan to come closer with her smoking hand.
The bait is taken.
The boundary crossed.
Harlan takes his leave with a fresh saliva sheath made up of equal parts disappointment, menthol, and egg salad residue.
It thrives underneath his left nostril.
Right where he can be reminded that Mama loves him.
Somewhere, later that night, Harlan counts the sheep that leap from onion patches into the lingering phantoms of Newpah Kool second hand smoke.
Beaufus redeems nothing.
Beaufus reduces nothing.
Blame is plenty, and all that men are good for.
The remote taunts her, over there on the floor, just out of reach.
All seems out of reach.
Beaufus dabs a frustrating butt into the tray.
No one calls. Her Mama gone to cancer.
The veins on her legs are purple and invasive.
The crisp cardboard pack slaps against her pudgy digits and a sortie escapes to her mouth.
Deep…down into places reserved for guilt.
The next pull affirms the moment, and she shifts to her left with some well-earned ease.
The droning set leads off to a distant place she’s never been, nor will ever be able to gain.
She smashes the butt in the tray, and allows the tears to flow down her rosy cheeks.
Beaufus yearns for a relief that never comes, but is sought with every puffing breath.
Every fucking menthol breath.
Every fucking mental breath.
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