Chance Meeting

(by, 31 December 1997)

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Chance Meeting

   "Are you following me ?" the pretty blonde said as she stepped from her car.
Colin couldn't tell if it was a question tinged with hostility or curiosity.
   The truth was, he had been following her, since Springfield. The construction
on I-91 had traffic backed up for half an hour, with first gear bumper-to-
bumper driving for almost five torturous miles. Colin hadn't minded, because
it gave him a chance to scope the road for his favourite drivetime diversion-
and he was on a loose schedule.
   In fact, he might not be on a schedule at all, as he was driving five and an
half hours on a whim.
   Now he was a little bit sorry he'd decided to push the issue by getting off
at the same rest area as this stunning, short woman.
   Or at least he would be, if she responded to his answer the way he imagined
she would.
   "Yeah. Because you were going eighty the whole way and I like following
someone who's not afraid of driving."
   "That's too bad. I thought you were following me because you-" and she paused
to take a long draw on her cigarette "-you liked to watch me smoke."
   That was the truth, of course. He'd been sitting there and trying to decide
whether or not to light a cigarette himself when he looked to his left and
there she was. Driving a late model black Jetta. Even though it was snowing
she had the moonroof open. Then she thumbed down the driver's side window,
placed a cigarette in her mouth, and lit it with the car lighter.
   The first plume of smoke from her mouth was so perfect that Colin immediately
lit his own and rolled down his window.
   They made brief eye contact and she smiled wanly at him then inhaled again as
her lane began to move. He saw the black on white ‘NIN' bumper sticker on her
car and was hooked.
   "Wouldn't you think it was weird if I said I did ?"
   "Not at all. I was enjoying watching you. I was hoping that you'd be able to
keep up. I would-" she paused to take one final drag on the cigarette, dropped
it underneath her foot, and let loose the sort of exhale Colin had grown used
to seeing from her. "-have been disappointed if you hadn't gotten off the
   "I was afraid you'd think I was stalking you or something."
   "Let's go inside. I didn't stop just to meet you. My name is Molli, by the
way." She extended her slender hand and he shook it gently.
   "Colin. Where you headed ?"
   "Rochester. A bunch of friends are getting together for the annual after
Christmas gathering. Hell of a drive from New Haven."
   "New Haven ? I live in Guilford. Did you go to U of R ?"
   "Yeah. You ?"
   "Once upon a time. I have a friend in from California. I'm hoping to hook up
with him at the Elmwood tonight."
   "Hoping ?"
   "Well, he's at his brother's. I haven't been able to reach him."
   She held the door for him and they walked inside. "You're driving five and an
half hours on a whim ?"
   "Basically. Where are you hooking up with your friends ?"
   Molli laughed. "The Elmwood. Look, if you can't hook up with your friend, I'd
love to have you come along."
   She saw the look on Colin's face.
   "I'm not desperate. Honest."
   Colin smiled. "Desperate ? You ? That was the last thing on my mind. Look, I
think I have to do the same thing as you. Then I was going to grab some lunch,
fill up with gas. You want to keep driving together ?"
   "You bet."
   They met up again after taking care of business. Molli walked into the gift
shop, bought two packs of Marlboro Lights 100s, and handed one to Colin.
   "I just wanted to make sure that you didn't run out during the trip."
   "Do you have a cell phone ?" Colin asked, taking the cigarettes gratefully.
   Molli took a business card from a black leather purse barely twice the size
of a pack of cigarettes.	
   Molli Harrington-Freelance Writer.
   "You write for a living ?"
   "Yeah. Just don't tell me you're an editor, and-"
   "Actually, I am an editor. I think I bought a piece from you a few months ago
for New Style."
   "Smoking in the Nineties, a Return to Sexuality ?"
   Even though they were still inside the rest area, Molli went ahead and lit
her cigarette. "I guess I know why you bought that one."
   "It was well written," Colin said defensively. "And you should have sent your
picture along with it. I would have bought the story and called your for a
   "I was seeing someone then. Thank God that's over."
   Colin decided to hold off asking.
   Molli offered him the cigarette, which surprised and excited him.
   The filter was faintly moist. He placed it between his lips, pulled on it,
and then handed it back. He was holding the cigarette in his right hand, so
she could have easily taken it with her left hand, but she didn't.	 Instead,
she reached across her body with her right hand and placed it across the
length of his, gently stroking his hand before taking it back. She immediately
drew on it.
   "Do you have a place to stay ?"
   "Not yet. I was either going to grab a room or drive back tonight."
   "Don't be silly. I have a room at the Radisson off 590. Follow me in and you
can try to call your friend from there."
   Colin, who couldn't believe how well this trip was turning out, just nodded,
then accepted the cigarette from Molli again, who openly watched him with a
wry smile on her face.
   "You lead, I'll follow," he said, handing the cigarette back.

   The trip was pretty uneventful after that. Molli kept to a steady 78 and
Colin followed. When the road was open they drove side by side. They talked on
their phones, getting to know one another as they ate up the miles.
   Then they pulled into I-490 toll booth. Colin settled in behind Molli, who
passed the ticket and money out the already open window. There was a longer
than usual pause, and then she handed her cigarettes and lighter out the
window as well. There was the flare of a lighter, the smoking gear was passed
back, and Molli pulled forward.
   Colin finished lighting his own cigarette just before he pulled up. The girl
in the booth couldn't have been more than twenty-one. She had soft red curly
hair and an attractive face. He sweet smile reached all the way to her eyes
and she paused to draw on the cigarette before taking Colin's toll ticket. But
she rejected the ten.
   "Your girlfriend already paid, Colin. She said to say hi."
   He took the time to put the money back in his wallet, watching the toll booth
worker smoke. She almost seemed to know that was what he was doing, and if so,
she certainly went out of her way to oblige, giving him a quick series of
three inhales and exhales before he drove off.
   Colin sat down on the bed- trying to remember the last time he'd sat down on
another woman's bed. It had been at least three months.
   And she hadn't smoked. That had actually been the defining factor in their
relationship. She had quit smoking just a few weeks after they'd started
dating and it had been all downhill from there. Her trying to get him to quit,
him trying to get her to start again.
   And it had worked. One last night of glorious sex, with plenty of gratuitous
smoking before, during and after. The next morning she'd called and told him
she wouldn't being seeing him anymore.
   But at least she was still smoking.
   "Did you get hold of your friend ?"
   Colin sighed. He'd reached his friend's brother who let him know that Jaime
had gone to Toronto for the night and wouldn't be back until late tomorrow.
   "He went out of town for the day. I was thinking about driving back. I don't
want to be a burden."
   Molli looked up, an unlit cigarette dangling from her mouth. "Well, if you're
going to talk that way, maybe you should go home, silly. Otherwise, I have
almost two hours to kill, and I'd like you to help me as much as possible."
   She then lit the cigarette, tossed the lighter on the bed, and walked over to
Colin. Without missing a beat, she sat down behind him, straddling him with
her legs, and put the cigarette up to his mouth. He accepted it eagerly,
inhaled, enjoying the way her fingers brushed his face. So gently. There was a
real art to what she was doing, a touch that was more than simply sensual.
   Although it was sensual, as his hard on attested to.
   "Your turn," he said smokily.
   She drew the cigarette to her mouth and he heard it hiss as she pulled on it.
Her inhale went into his ear, her lips touching that sensitive skin.
   "I want you to know I'm not usually like this."
   "I didn't think you were."
   "Good. Then you won't mind if we go a little farther than this ?"
   She squeezed her legs tightly against him, offered him the cigarette again.
His inhale was deeper than usual, but it felt heavenly. Her tongue worked the
perimetre of his ear, gently. So gently.
   There was no question she was amasing.
   She worked her right hand around his mouth, cupping it so that the exhale was
trapped there, carrying back towards her. She drank it in, then treated
herself to another inhale of her own. Her breasts were pressing against his
back and he could feel the hard surety of her pert nipples, the perfect accent
to wonderful breasts.
   "You know, I've never dated a smoker before. It's always been a fantasy of
   "And I always wanted to pick up the most beautiful girl on the road at a rest
   That right hand drifted considerably farther south and felt something
pleasing to both of them.
   "Have you ever had sex before while smoking ?"
   "Before ?"
   "Before now, silly."
   "Well, yes."
   Molli laughed a delicious laugh. "Am I going to enjoy it ?"
   "I hope so. Make that a- what are you doing ?"
   Somehow, Molli had worked his pants lose with just the one hand. She was
stroking his penis in perfect series, driving him to a frenzy.
   "I'm making sure that you come before we start. You don't mind, do you ?"
   She offered him the cigarette again with her other hand and he accepted it.
His exhale wreathed them both in smoke.
   As she drew on it again he came and she caught it all with her hand
   It was only the beginning.

   They'd been at the Elmwood about an hour now. While Molli certainly hadn't
hesitated to smoke, there'd been something different about it.
   Still, things had gone pretty well. Her friends hadn't asked too many
questions about him and therefore she'd not had to work very hard to explain
him. But none of the seven of them smoked, and it was definitely having an
effect on her which he didn't exactly like.
   They'd broken away from the group to play a game of darts. Molli's smoking
changed for the better as soon as they were away from her friends. The inhales
were fuller, the exhales far more voluminous, and she now held the cigarette
with her old confidence, announcing clearly to all who watched- and there was
a definite amount of attention being paid to her- that she was a smoker.
   He was about to say something when the gorgeous twenty-something waitress
with the thick curly black hair and the amasing breasts brushed up against
   "Hi, Melody."
   "Can I get you anything ?"
   "Another pitcher of Bass would be nice. Do you want my credit card ?"
   "No- don't be silly. God, I wish I were as lucky as you."
   Colin watched Molli's first throw land just inside the bull's eye. Two more
and it would be over.
   She looked so hot, standing there with the cigarette in one hand along with
one of the darts and the other poised to be thrown. So carefree.
   "What do you mean ?"
   "You get to stand around smoking and throwing darts while I'm waiting on ill-
mannered college students. I haven't had a cigarette in half an hour."
   Without further prompting, Colin held his cigarette out to Melody.
   She glanced around, as though someone might see her.
   "Come on. I know they let you smoke."
   "I ran out."
   "I'll make sure my tip includes quarters, then."
   "The machine's out of my- your brand."
   She took the cigarette gratefully as Molli marked her bull's eye and plucked
her darts from the board. Colin couldn't quite read her look as she saw Melody
draw deeply on his cigarette and smile at him with more than simply
   As she handed it back she said "If you were from around here I'd be in love."
   She walked away, smoked trailing over her shoulder as she savoured the
   "You're very good at making friends," Molli said playfully, kissing him
on the cheek even as she exhaled.
   He took the darts. "And you're a damn good dart player. But before I take my
last futile set of throws, I have something that I want to ask you about."
   "Am I jealous of pert-breasted Melody who keeps brushing up against you ?"
   "No. Why do smoke the way you do around your friends ?"
   "What do you mean ?"
   Colin moved to one side of her, dropped his hand down by his waist and angled
his cigarette so that the smoke trailing from it curled away from them. He
even used his body to shield her from the sight of the cigarette. He then took
a quick, almost half-hearted inhale, which he followed with a rapid exhale,
his head turned away.
   "Why do you think I do that ?"
   "Because they don't smoke, right ?"
   "I really do that ? God, that's depressing. I mean, I always try to smoke
like I mean it-"
   "Because you do. But around them-"
   "It's because of Pam."
   "She's an anti ?"
   Molli inhaled deeply then laughed as she exhaled.
   "God no. When I came to college I'd never so much as tried a cigarette. I
mean, I was the only one in the family who didn't smoke- and my sister Ellen
was twelve. The last thing she said to me before I went away to school was
‘You'll be a smoker by October.' She was right. Pam was a pack a day smoker
all through college. We met the first day of classes and I started smoking
that night. We both used to smoke in the group and no one seemed to mind. Then
I moved away and she started dating Bill, who is  the anti in the group.
Bastard. The pressure was too much, I guess."
   "So you smoke like that-"
   "So I'm not rubbing her nose in it. She sneaks- I was up here a month ago
while Bill was out of town and she smoked every waking moment- we even slept
over in the hotel so he wouldn't know."
   "Why does she keep dating him, then ?"
   Molli gestured that they should move back to the dart board, which was being
eyed by a pair of MCC types.
   "He's really a nice guy- with one hang up. And I told you, I'd never dated a
smoker before-"
   "Or had sex while you were smoking," he said, throwing his first dart into
the wood casing around the board.
   "I expect to try that again later, you know."
   None of Colin's throws hit the board.
   He walked up and retrieved his errant throws, handed her the darts, and said
"Here, you go first."
   Just then Pam strolled over, holding a glass of Genny Cream Ale. It made
Colin glad he and Molli had their own pitcher.
   "Can't you guys finish that later ?" she asked as Molli scored two twenties
and an accidental triple 6.
   "No way," Molli quipped. "We split the first two and this is to see who gets
to be on top later."
   Pam's eyes drifted to the pitcher, their third.
   "I don't think it's going to matter."
   "We walked here, Mom."
   "Sorry. But I haven't seen you in a month-"
   "Want to sneak off after the game ? Maybe take a walk around the block and-"
   "He'd just taste it in my mouth and then be mad for a week."
   "You know, there was a time you didn't care about that, Pam."
   "I know. There are times I still don't, but I'd be pushing my luck. He was
supposed to be working late last night and lo and behold he strolls in at six
and there I am on the back porch, smoking the last cigarette from my pack.
They're doing end of the year and I took the day off, thinking I'd have plenty
of time, twelve hours at least."
   "Was it worth it ?" Molli asked as she watched Colin bury three bull's eyes.
   "That's the first time I've smoked a whole pack since you were here-"
   Molli gestured Colin over and then took the darts, studying the board before
starting her throws.
   "Molli tells me you're the reason she started smoking, Pam."
   "It turns you on, doesn't it ?"
   The question was so blunt it caught him off guard, but Colin found himself
smiling. Her could see in Pam's deep azure eyes that she approved. Those eyes
sat in an heavenly face which looked much better with a smile on it than it
had the rest of the evening.
   "Yeah. That's how we met-"
   "God, she is so lucky. I'd give anything to date a smoker, you know ?"
   "It's hard, getting in the car and going home at night, knowing you can't
roll down the window and light up, knowing that you won't be having a
cigarette after dinner or before you go to bed."
   "I sneak whenever I can, but it's not enough. Bill wants me to try the patch,
but I don't want to quit. He's such an asshole about it sometimes."
   Molli handed Colin the darts, and looking at what she'd accomplished with
just three throws, he saw that she was most definitely going to be on top
   "Why don't you do something about it then ? Did you bring your cigarettes
with you like you said you were going to ?"
   "Yes," Pam said hesitantly, "But you know what will happen. Everyone will get
uncomfortable and leave, Bill will leave without me, and you'll be stuck with
me tonight just like over the summer. And-" she rolled her eyes in Colin's
direction, "-you don't want to be stuck with me tonight."
   "Try me-" Molli said.

   It was close to two, closing time, and Bill and the rest of the group were
long gone.
   There had been no deviation from Pam's prediction. She'd calmly walked over
to the table, pulled a pack of Virginia Slims 120's out of her purse, lighting
one with forced casualness. Bill had a cow. Donna and Mike paid the tab, Helen
and Joan slipped out a few minutes later, and finally even Ricco had snuck
away. Bill took the car and peeled out of the parking lot with the look of a
man who'd decided he was through.
   That was almost three hours ago. Since then the three of them had gotten good
and wasted, drinking and smoking and laughing. Melody's mood had gotten
progressively less friendly as she watched the other two women gravitate to
Colin. BUt he had hardly noticed the turn things were taking.
   Not even now while they were playing six foot footsie under the table.
   "We gotta go," Molli said, looking at the large clock over the bar.
   "I'm ready," Pam said. "I hope I can get a room," she added, although her
voice indicated this was not really the case.
   Colin dropped a twenty down for a tip, recalculated, decided it didn't
   The walk home was magical. They smoked and laughed, walking arm in arm in
arm. When they reached the Dunkin' Donuts they slipped inside and ordered
three black coffees, ignoring the no smoking signs.
   The next morning Colin would wonder that the cops who drove by them during
the half hour walk didn't stop them for public drunkenness. They knew they
were being loud but none of them cared. For his part he couldn't remember when
he'd had this much fun.
   He had no idea what was coming.
   "It's a big bed," Molli said. "Don't be silly."
   "I'll sleep on the floor," Pam said. "Damn, it's hot in here."
   Colin had been thinking that was because they'd taken a long walk in the cold
and they were drunk, but it did seem awfully warm.
   It got quite a bit warmer when Pam stripped her blouse off without warning.
   "I can't sleep in the bed," she said. "I sleep naked." She followed this
exclamation with a stunning exhale that accentuated the word naked in a way
Colin had never experienced.
   "So do I," Molli said. "Just like last time."
   They'd shared an hotel room last time, Colin remembered. He thought of these
two women in a bed naked together.
   Molli read his thoughts.
   "I should have said I'd never had sex with a man while smoking, Colin."
   "You two ?"
   "I was depressed," Pam said. She exhaled again, handed her cigarette to
Molli, who drew deeply and passed it to Colin.
   "Are you depressed tonight ?" he asked timidly.
   "Not if you sleep naked, I'm not."
   "I don't think I could sleep right now."
   Molli took the cigarette back, drew deeply, and then did something Colin
couldn't have dreamed of. She kissed Pam hard and they shared the smoke.
Without breathing, Pam then kissed Colin, delivering a still potent rush of
smoke to his lungs.
   "I don't think any of us are tired," Pam said throatily.

   Molli had insisted on going last. And being on top.
   Pam sat beside them, holding a cigarette in each hand. She alternated between
smoking them herself and offering them to Molli and Colin, who were hard at
   They didn't speak. None of them did. It was the sort of sexual experience
would have been lessened by saying things that had no meaning. There was
meaning enough in the fact that Pam had to light two more cigarettes which
were almost gone by the time they finished. It was well after four now, and as
Molli came to one final jaw-rending climax, they just as silently agreed they
were all spent.
   But not too spent to share one last cigarette between the three of them like
high school kids.
   Colin only wished high school had been like this. Finally done, they shared a
strange three pronged kiss which made Colin wonder if two person sex would
ever be the same again.

   Six months to the day later, Colin stood in Molli's grandmother's back yard
on the patio. He took a long drag on his cigarette and then flicked the ash
away carefully so that it wouldn't get on the tuxedo.
   Molli was walking up the middle of the yard between rows of folding chairs
which formed an aisle. Her ivory Victorian style wedding dress was stunning,
and it was true that she'd never looked more beautiful. As their eyes met, she
put her cigarette to her mouth and drew deeply on it. The smoke trailed up
over her veil like a second train.
   Colin looked over to Pam. She was just lighting a Virginia Slims 120 and she
winked at him knowingly.
   There was no chance of repeating that night in the motel. Pam had started
dating a co-worker she got to know on smoking breaks and they too were
   Finally, Molli reached the patio.
   The justice of the peace took a fat cuban from his mouth and smiled at them.
   "We're gathered here today to join these two smokers in the bond of holy
   Molli grinned at Colin and he knew exactly what she was thinking about.
   Whether or not their vows were a little over the top.
   Watching her inhale, then somehow hold the cigarette perfectly despite the
wedding dress as she exhaled, he decided that it didn't matter.

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