a very smoky room dot com, Part 1

(by Dromedary Joe, 15 July 2008)

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a very smoky room dot com
by Dromedary Joe

Part One: Prologue

It was a hot, steamy August day in the middle of the jungle on an island
somewhere in the Caribbean Sea. The man lit a fire and noticed the afternoon
thunderstorm clouds were moving in. A mere two weeks earlier the man had been
a successful business owner in the United States. It took one high school
girl to undo all his hard work. Today though, he would have his revenge.
Today was the Day of Vengeance.

The man stood there admiring the doll for a moment. It was the best one he
had ever made. He stroked her  blond hair made of straw and smiled. "Soon, my
little pretty, I will have my revenge. You will pay for ruining my life," he
said to the doll. 

The man had been a successful 7-11 owner in the United States. His store was
the busiest convenience store in the county he lived in. He remembered
clearly the words  which became his undoing, "Give me a pack of Newport 100's
in a box please." Within five minutes, his American dream was shattered as
the police came in and arrested him. He still remembered the smug grin on the
girl's face as he was led away in handcuffs. The little bitch had set him up.
The next day, his 7-11 franchise license was revoked and he was deported. Now
he lived in his old squalid hut back on his native island, but tonight he
would get his revenge. 

He put the doll on the sacred post and started chanting the ancient
incantations. When he was done he held the doll high in the air with both
hands as he noticed the lightning was starting to illuminate the cloudy sky.

"Almighty gods of Voodoo, hear my cries for vengeance. I beg of you, hear my
cries!" he shouted towards the sky. He put the doll back on the post. In the
usual ritual, this was where pins were stuck into the doll to indicate where
the Voodoo practicer wanted the pain and discomfort to be felt. The man had a
better idea. He would use an ancient ritual derived from Voodoo's African
roots. It was a rarely used ritual, but one which supposedly was very
powerful. The girl would not pay for her sins by feeling pain. He took a
small twig from a nearby tree and stuck the end of the twig near the flame.
Satisfied it was lit, he put the unlit end in the doll's mouth. She will
become what she hates most, thought the man to himself.

The rain started pouring down and the man quickly headed for his small hovel
nearby. Perhaps he had gone too far. Surely the gods were powerful and could
make her feel pain and anguish, but what he had asked for was for them to
control her will. Even the gods could not make a person change their mind-
they could not interfere with a person's decisions.  He thought for a moment.
The gods could, however, tempt a person to the point where the willpower is
tested. The man smiled and let out a laugh. Surely the gods were pleased with
his sacrifice and they would test the girl to the point where resistance
would be most difficult. In that moment, he knew the girl would surely become
that which she hated most...

(One year later...)

Juliet was starting to get tired. She yawned for what seemed like the
thousandth time that hour, as she noticed the sign which said she was fifty
miles away. She was less than an hour away from her new home. She was going
to college, she said to herself. She had planned for college for a long time.
Her best friend, Mindy, who was a year older and a class ahead of her had
already been attending State U  for the past year, and had an apartment
rented. Ever since middle school, they had talked about attending State U
together. It had all been planned out years in advance. They were both
excellent students and scholarships were a given. They knew once they got
there, all they would need to worry about was a place to stay, food, and some
money to have a decent social life. Juliet's parents had invested in her
college since she was a small child, but Mindy and her parents really didn't
plan for the future. Mindy graduated a year before Juliet would, and even
though she had a full scholarship, she still didn't have any money for living
expenses. Juliet assumed that Mindy would have to wait a year, get a job, and
save up some money. Juliet would finish high school, and then they could go
off to college together. Mindy said she didn't want to wait. When the time
came for Mindy to go away to college, she told Juliet that she would make it
somehow. Juliet had worried about her friend. Mindy had left with barely
enough money for the first month's rent and deposit, enough money for books
and school supplies, and food for a couple of weeks. Juliet figured she would
end up coming back home after a month or two after running out of money.
Mindy told her not to worry, she would make out, "somehow," she said.

To say Mindy "made out" would be a great understatement. When she came back
home on Christmas break, she was loaded with cash. Where she had gotten the
money from, Juliet hadn't figured out. Mindy simply said she was a "specialty
model" whatever that was. Mindy had also picked up a bad habit while away at
college. She had started smoking. 

Thinking of her best friend being a smoker made Juliet frown. To say Juliet
was anti-smoking would be putting it mildly. One of Juliet's biggest
accomplishments in high school was becoming president of the Anti-Smoking
Club at school her senior year. Before the election, she had promised the
other students in the club that she would do more to stop smoking than any
previous president had done. She had definitely delivered on her promise. She
had patrols set up at the peripheral spots on campus, spots she knew the
smokers liked to hang out at between classes and before and after school. She
had helped set up stings with the police, usually with herself as the "buyer"
at local convenience stores. 

Her proudest achievement, though, was making what some people called "The
Speech". She lived in a small town where a tiny, but vocal minority had set
up an organization to stop smoking in restaurants and bars. After getting
enough  signatures on their petition, an election was scheduled. The vote was
expected to be close and a public forum was announced. Because her town was
too small to have a civic center, this forum had taken place in the local
Sports Bar named Touchdowns. Juliet was the last speaker that night and gave
a rousing speech to the townsfolk on the dangers of second hand smoke.
Touchdowns allowed smoking, and Juliet finished the speech by walking into
the crowd and picking up someone's lit cigarette from the ashtray and said,
"Now if I decided to smoke this cigarette- I wouldn't of course because it's
a nasty habit, but assuming I did, and it harmed no one else, I would say
allow smoking in bars and restaurants, no matter how bad the smoke smells.
The truth; however, is that if I did smoke this cigarette, I would be harming
everyone else in this building with second hand smoke. She threw the
cigarette on the ground and finished, "It is for this reason that I say we
stamp out smoking indoors, for the sake of our families and our friends and
for the health and happiness of our community!" She then crushed out the
cigarette with her foot to the cheers of the anti-smoking partisans in
attendance. Juliet's speech was persuasive and the vote which was expected to
be tight wasn't even close. The town had voted to ban smoking in almost all
indoor buildings except private homes.

Juliet had done a lot of thinking when Mindy came home for winter break.
Should she stop being her friend simply because Mindy was now a smoker?
Juliet thought that would be silly, but she asked Mindy about what would
happen when she ended up going to State. Juliet was adamant about living in a
smoke-free apartment.

"Don't worry," Mindy said with a smile, "I've got it all worked out. You'll
love our apartment." Juliet had worried, though, and although she never
asked, she wondered what kind of arrangement would work for both her and

She followed the directions to the apartment and took another glance at the
directions after she saw they took her into a huge gated community. Surely,
this couldn't be it. This was way too ritzy. After driving around the block a
few times, she figured out that this had to be the place. 

She drove up to the gate and the security guard only said, "Juliet?"

"Yes, how do you know my name?" Juliet asked suspiciously.

"Ms. Mindy told me I should be expecting you. Welcome to the neighborhood.
Here's your gate key and parking pass."

Wow, thought Juliet, this place was nice. She looked around for a second and
then drove  to her designated parking spot. 

Juliet looked around. Which one was her apartment? Probably one of those
smaller ones over there. It couldn't be that big condominium over here. She
went to the smaller ones and saw they weren't her new address. Maybe it is
that big one. She walked to the big condominium with the French doors and
noticed the address. This was home. It would be her home for the next 4
years, she thought to herself. She took a deep breath and rang the doorbell.
After a few seconds her friend Mindy opened the door. 

"Jules!" shouted her best friend Mindy, "Oh my God, I was wondering when you
would get here."

Juliet gave Mindy a hug. Juliet noticed the lit cigarette in Mindy's hand and
frowned a little bit.

"Oh, I'm sorry. I forgot about you and smoking. I told you I would work it
out, though," Mindy told her, took a drag off her cigarette, and then added,
"Come on in and see your new home..."

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