The #CleanWIP theme for January 28, 2020 is BLOCK. [More info]

Photo by Ondřej Šponiar

Earl Chinnici ~
The following excerpt is from a currently abandoned manuscript, When Jimmy Quit Smoking. I was going for a crazy but clean coming of age story with a terribly morbid ending, but a friend talked me out of writing it soon after I began. Such is one common hurdle in the life of a writer.
Jimmy moved into the apartment next door when I was twelve. Five years my elder, he seemed quite sophisticated as he took a break from unloading the moving van. He sat on the couch he was unloading to light a cigarette. I am certain I was twelve because after learning my name is Steve, “How old are you?” is the second thing I remember him asking. My reply sticks with me as though it was only yesterday, however it was fourteen years ago. “I’m between eleven and thirteen,” I said. In retrospect, it seems silly but that’s who I was back then, the silly kid on the block. Now, I’m CEO of the popular electronic toy firm Digiwhats.
Usually when I replied to that question with that answer, the asker responded with rolling eyes or feigned ignorance. Jimmy just nodded his head, letting me know he understood. It threw me off guard, but I recovered quickly and asked what he was doing. At that, he rolled his eyes in such a goofy way I could not resist laughing.
“Well, I like to move my furniture sometimes so the dust doesn’t get too deep.”
Of course, since I was twelve, it took time to digest. Once Jimmy knew that I caught on, we both laughed. In fact, I laughed so much it was hard to form words. “I mean, why are you smoking? Cigarettes are bad for you.”
“You wouldn’t understand” was his reply.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but Jimmy was right. I’m twenty-six now and I still don’t understand why people smoke. Even fourteen years ago, the toxicity of cigarette smoke was no secret. Besides, how can people not realize how horrible it makes them smell? I cringe to think about it.
“So what brings you to Crandon?”