The Code of the Road, Part 1

(by, 11 April 2001)

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"The Code of the Road"
Part 1

The Ford pickup wove slowly through the traffic. John was relaxed as he 
drove as it was a drive he and Suzie had made every other Sunday for the 
last year. They made chit chat as he drove, verifying airline schedules, 
arrival times, and hotel phone numbers. The traffic picked up a bit as they 
merged onto Broadway, the direct route to the small airport. It was 11:00 
and clearly the business travelers were making their way for their weekly 
trips out of town. Dave estimated only a fraction of the people flying out 
of their small Montana town were vacationers, and he would be correct if 
someone knew this statistic.

As they approached the passenger pick-up / drop off area, Suzie began to 
gather her things: purse, laptop, and all season coat. Phoenix was going to 
be obviously warmer than Montana this time of year, but Suzie carried the 
coat where ever she traveled just in case.

John braked to a stop and put the truck in park, leaving it idle. "You sure 
you don't want me to park and come in and wait for you?" he asked. He asked 
the same question each time he dropped Suzie off, and her reply was always 
the same.

"No, don't waste the money parking, honey. I'm a big girl, John. I know you 
have things to do in the yard, so you can get going." Suzie replied.

They both hopped out of the cab. John reached into the bed and pulled out 
Suzies hanging bag. He marveled how she was able to pack for a weeks trip in 
just one bag. They kissed deeply and genuinely, and finished with a long 
hug. "I can't wait till you can get off the road honey," he said softly, 
"This is getting kind of old."

She patted him on the back, consoling him. "I know John, but If I put in 
this time on the road now, I'll be better positioned for a non-travel job 
here in a year or two. We've been over this..."

"I just get to missing you, that's all.." John added.

"Me too, now get going, ya' big stud!" she said as they broke their embrace. 
She slapped his butt playfully. He over played the emotion and yelped 
loudly, drawing the attention of the other travelers. They both giggled and 
waved good-bye.

John got into the cab and replaced his sunglasses, waved good bye and drove 

Suzie waved good-bye and stood there, waiting. As the black pickup rounded 
the corner and out of sight, her expression turned immediately to one of 
desperation. She walked quickly to the stone benches, carrying her bags. She 
lay them down in a heap and sat. Suzie rifled through her purse and quickly 
unzipped the secret compartment which housed her cigarettes. Two unopened 
packs lay in the pocket, marlboro reds box and marlboro lights 100's, box. 
Suzie pulled out the reds and quickly unzipped the celophane, flipped back 
the box top, and pulled out the foil. She tossed the foil and celophane to 
the ground, letting the wind carry them away. She quickly extracted a single 
Marlboro and placed it between her painted red lips.

Suzie replaced the pack to the pocket, and removed her cheap pink Bic 
lighter. She turned and cupped the tip as she flicked it to life. It missed 
on the first attempt. Her hands were sweaty and slightly shaking. It had 
been nearly 48 hours since her last cigarette and her body ached for the 
nicotine. It caught on the second attempt, and she eagerly dipped forward 
and drew as the tip touched the flame. A small cloud left her mouth as she 
drew to ensure it was lit. She then sat up and drew deeply, caving her 
cheeks in. She inhaled and repeated the draw, holding. She filled her lungs 
and mouth a third time. The nicotine's effects were already running through 
her body. Suzie finally removed the cigarette from her lips and exhaled 
lazily into the wind, smiling and reveling in the sensations. She returned 
the filter to her waiting lips and this time drew once, careful to return to 
a casual style, hiding her desperation. Suzie finished her cigarette and 
crushed it out under her brown loafers, and then loaded up her bags and 
headed to the ticket counter.

As John rounded the corner he kept a watchfull eye on Suzie, waving 
good-bye. When he could no longer see her in the rear view mirror, he 
cracked the driver side window two inches and reached under the drivers 
seat. He fumbled for a brief second before pulling a new pack of Camel 
Filters from under the seat. He again checked his mirror and was satisfied 
that he was far enough away from Suzie, and quickly unwrapped the celophane. 
John pushed in the lighter in the truck and placed a Camel in his lips, and 
waited for the device to pop out. It glowed red. He puffed a few times as 
she placed the glowing coils agains the tip. He despised using his car 
lighter, but had failed to pick up matches when he had made his purchase.

Satisfied it was lit, he drew deeply and inhaled, holding the smoke. He 
exhaled towards the cracked window. The wind gusted and blew some of the 
smoke back into cab. He closed the crack to 1 inch to minimize the wind and 
continued home, enjoying his first cigarette since Friday afternoon.

John and Suzie were married April 25, 1999. Suzie had graduated with a 
Bachelors Degree in Communications and a minor in Computer Science at the 
end of the previous semester. John would graduate in May, with a teaching 
certificate in Math.

Suzie smoked her first cigarette her freshman year in college, at a frat 
party. Several of the girls from the dorms were smoking and drinking. 
Naturally, Suzie wanted to fit in. Her first produced a series of coughs and 
gags and nausea. Through it all, the pleasant sensation was present and it 
eventually won her over. To her friends and family, she verbally despised 
smoking, but in her 'closet' she secretly craved them. Suzie got into a 
routine with hiding her smoking. She knew the bathrooms on campus that were 
empty at which times; she would walk alone at night; and she always carried 
the strongest breath mints and gum to help mask the smell.  When Suzie 
eventually moved off campus, she lived alone. Her apartment was always 
masked with strong scented candles and pot-pourri. She always wore pefume 
just a touch to heavy, and her car always had a freshner, or two, hanging 
from the rear view mirror.

John was a bit more open about his smoking, that is until he met Suzie. They 
were introduced through mutual friends and they hit it off right away. On 
their second date, John planned to light up in front of Suzie. On the drive 
to the movie a car full of young smoking girls pulled up to them at a red 
light. Suzie of course commented how gross their smoking was. John's heart 
sunk a bit as she continued to rant about it. She was gorgeous and smart, 
everything he'd hoped to find in a woman. Eventually his heart won out and 
he swore off smoking, in front of her.

Suzie continued to hide her smoking through out their engagement, while John 
fought hard to quit. He would occasionally stop on the way to school and buy 
a full pack and smoke one, throwing the rest away out of guilt or fear of 
being found out. At times, both smelt the lingering smell of cigarettes on 
the other, and even questioned each other about. Their stories would be the 
same, "walked through a group of smokers outside the student union" or 
something to that effect. They both hoped the answer would be something 
different, like "Honey, I have something to tell you... Im a smoker and I've 
been hiding it from you... can you please forgive me?", but their shame and 
pride prevented such an answer from ever breaching their lips.

So they played their games and perfected their routines to hide their 
addictions from each other, extending their private misery.

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