The Dead Next Door

(by, 22 August 1998)

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Dead Next Door

   My name is Sanna. It's a normal name, but I'm not a normal person. If that
bothers you, well, now is the best time to stop reading this.
   I'm dictating right now while driving my car over the bridge. It's a typical
morning commute, but I'm an atypical commuter- really, I work at home. I write
copy for a privately funded internet magazine most of you will never hear
about. So why am I participating in what one thousand professionals listed as
the second biggest complaint about their occupations ?
   Well, first of all, I can work while driving, like I'm doing now. Second, I
don't actually have to be anywhere. Unlike most of you, I enjoy a good
accident, because it prolongs the reason I'm out here.
   Now, if you were actually listening to this tape instead of reading the
transcription, you'd hear the tell-tale snickt of a lighter and the sound of
that first inhale on a freshly lit cigarette.
   Pity you can't.
   If you're still reading, that sort of thing probably turns you on, which is
exactly why I'm out here. Yes, I light my cigarettes, and like many women, I
smoke Marlboro Lights 100s. I know that some of you are not excited by this,
that you'd prefer I smoked something more exotic, something longer and less
pedestrian, but please-
   I'm been smoking since I was twelve and that's the brand my sister smokes.
She was my mentor, the woman who opened my eyes and hearts to the wonders of
the habit. I've tried the longer styles and they're okay, but that just lit
100 is perfect for me. I'm on the small side and those longer cigarettes just
look strange in my hands. And while it's not all about looks- I wouldn't smoke
if I didn't enjoy it, looks are important.
   Especially for this, for what I'm doing right now. If I didn't smoke, I
guarantee you that I wouldn't be out here. But I don't just enjoy smoking. I
enjoy putting on a display for other people- both men and women but mostly
men- to watch. I love turning heads while I work. There's nothing quite like
knowing that all you need to do is light a cigarette, take it from your mouth,
and hold it and the steering wheel with your left hand to attract all sorts of
   I love summer. I can drive with the windows down.
   That's the first thing the siter looks for. The open car window gives the
approaching siter the hope that you're smoking.
   I also wear my hair in a pony tail with a white cloth scrunchie holding it in
place. That pony tail is a sure sign I'm a woman.
   So I light up, then watch in the rear view as I drive down the middle lane. I
watch them approach, that eager hope in their eyes. I'll take the wheel with
my right hand sometimes and let the hand with the cigarette dangle out the
window, the dead give away. When I snare one, they pull up alongside, slow
down to my speed, and cast what they think is an unseen furtive glance.
   I always meet that glance if traffic allows and smile.
   I make sure they understand that I know what they're doing and I give them
what they want to see, the sort of inhale which their dreams- and mine- are
made of.
   Yes, I've caused a couple of fender benders, and once a month or so I`m
pretty sure I get somebody to masturbate while they keep pace with me. That's
the hazards of what I do.
   The thing is, if you're really brave, you might just get to end up doing more
than just watch me on the highway. That doesn't happen too often, but every
now and then I extend the show to a more personal appearance. What do you have
to do ?
   Well, the first turn on for me if that when the guy- sorry ladies, but I live
on a one-way street, so to speak- sees me, he immediately lights a cigarette
or cigar of his own to let me know that he too is a smoker. That's a big turn
on, that solidarity. He's saying yes, I smoke too and isn't it great. The guys
who are brave enough to watch but won't join in do nothing for me, I'm afraid.
There are plenty of women smokers who don't need that, but I'm not one of
them. I smoke exactly one pack a day, no more, no less, and I'd I'd prefer a
few of them were before, during, and after sex.
   Second, the guy has to give me my due. I'm not model tall or model thin, but
I have a very pretty face, attractively pert breasts which I enjoy being
handled, and the sort of blonde hair blue eyes combination which is considered
`standard pretty.' I want to see in his eyes that he appreciates that. 
   Finally, that appreciation has to grow by leaps and bounds when he sees me
lift that cigarette to my hungry lips.
   If he meets all those criteria and smokes attractively- men can be such ugly
smokers, gripping the cigarette funny, leaving it in their mouths too long,
waving it around like a sword instead of a delicate instrument of personal
pleasure- then maybe I'll follow them- remember, I have no set destination,
   That freaks them out, but the smart ones know how to handle it. If they
don't, well, too bad for them.	
   Not that I need to stalk men, but sometimes it can be fun.
   Change of subject.
   My neighbours finally started smoking again, apparently. I saw them this
morning when I was leaving come out of the house- James had run off to the
store and come back with two cartons of cigarettes- and they were both
smoking. It mad me kind of sad when they quit- I'd expected their daughter
Felicia, who babysits my cat when I'm away, would have started by now, too.
I've always thought the three of them would make a cute family of smokers.
   Just to let you know that I'm really not normal, I was glad because of the
girl. I like getting other people to take up smoking, and I'd thought from the
time I'd moved in four years ago that she'd eventually be a good project. Her
best friend Ophelia smokes, but with her parents quitting I was afraid there'd
be no chance for me to corrupt her. Now I have some hope of doing just that.
   I'll pay her a visit after I get back home.
   Why, do you ask, would I want to do such a thing ? Am I evil ?
   I hope just a little bit.
   Seriously, I remember how much I loved my sister for getting me started. I
really will always love her as much for that as for anything we'll ever share.
I just want to be able to do the same thing for other teenage girls- and grown
women- I'm twenty-six now and more than happy to say that I've gotten five
other twenty plusers to start this year. I keep very careful track and I'm
more than a little proud of it.
   If that turns you on, keep reading.

   Felicia walked up the hill until the pizzeria came into view. Ophelia would
be waiting for inside with a pack of cigarettes and a spare lighter.
   The excitement was overwhelming. Would she start smoking today ?
   Ophelia would want her to start immediately, and she wasn't sure that would
happen. But it was going to be soon, she was sure of that. She actually wanted
her parents to come home from work one day soon and see her sitting in the
living room, puffing away on a cigarette. She could think of nothing cooler.
   But she was not going to start right now. No, she was going to take the pack
home, study it, think about it until the anticipation became so overwhelming
that she had no choice but to light a cigarette and surrender to the mystical
charms of the habit everyone else seemed sold on.
   That would disappoint Ophelia, who would want to be the catalyst, but she
would be happy enough once her friend was smoking.
   There was no thought that she would try it again and hate it as she had
before. She was older now and she had a feeling the lights would make all the
difference to her.
   She hoped.
   No, she knew.
   But getting by Ophelia today would be a problem. She wasn't going to just
hand over the pack and say `Enjoy yourself.' No, she would push and push and
it was Felicia's responsibility to herself not to give in.  Not until she was
entirely ready to give over. Or so Felicia thought.
   As her hand went to the door handle, it swung slowly inwards. There was
Ophelia, the end all of shit eating grins on her face. She was holding the
pack of cigarettes in her hand and the lighter and there was so much open hope
in her eyes. Best to deal with that right away.
   "I'm going to smoke, Ophelia, but not right now. I think that the quicker we
get that out of the way the better off we'll both be."
   Ophelia showed her disappointment but she seemed to have been expecting it.
So she satisfied herself by lighting a cigarette of her own and walking along
the parking lot with Ophelia in tow, drinking in her second hand smoke and
finding that she enjoyed the sweet smell. That alone was strange. She'd never
enjoyed the smell before and it seemed strange that she would like it now. But
somehow or other, it was enticing.
   "You know that you're an awful tease, Felicia. When you called me this
morning I had this silly idea that you were going to light up for me right
   She took a deep draw on her cigarette and smiled. 
   "But that's okay," she added. Smoke trailed from her mouth as she spoke, some
of it clinging tightly to her while a dense cloud spread slowly in the moist
August air. "There'll be plenty of time for the two of us to enjoy smoking
together. I'm sure that once you light that first cigarette you're going to
have an entirely different view of what smoking is."
   "I want that," Felicia said honestly. "Just not right at this very moment.
Can you understand that ?"
   "Not really. But I'm not going to push you." She inhaled again, pulling the
white smoke deep into her lungs and making Felicia want to know how that felt.
She watched the long exhale and it reminded her of the sensuous way that
Maureen had smoked in the video.
   "Why ?" Felicia asked, not sure how to take her friend's seemingly nonchalant
approach. It simply wasn't what she expected.
   "Because the only thing which could possibly stop you from smoking is getting
too much pressure to smoke. I know you. I know how you think. Remember, we've
been friends like forever."
   "Yeah, but we've never talked about smoking before- not like this, anyway."
   As always, Ophelia didn't interrupt her smoking just to respond. She waited
until her exhale was finished to speak.
   "You taking up smoking is as natural as the stock market correcting itself.
In the big picture, it had to happen. You're just one of like a thousand
teenagers a day who decide to start smoking- except that where I couldn't give
a shit about most of them, I can't wait for you to start. We're going to have
a lot of fun."
   "Does it really make that much of a difference ?"
   "You won't understand until you start smoking yourself, dear."
   Ophelia took another full-bodied drag on the cigarette, looked at its half-
shrunken mass, and smiled.
   "I hope you're right," Felicia said. 
   I had a typical morning commute. I drew the attention of seven men and three
women in an hour and an half of driving and dictated two web pages worth of
content. Then I stopped at the mall, considered going inside to by a pair of
jeans, but in the end, I just sat on the wall outside the main entrance and
smoked and watched smokers. I love summertime at the mall because all the high
school girls are making pocket change working in the stores and they're always
wandering outside to catch a smoke on their break. 
   Don't get me wrong. As stated, I like men. But there's nothing quite like
watching pretty young teenage girls smoke- when they do it well, and some of
them do it so well I find myself getting jealous of them. I was an attractive
smoker when I was that age, but these days- it's odd, really. At the same time
that things are getting more and more difficult for teenaged smokers, it's
also never been easier. When was the last time you saw someone tell a teenaged
girl to put her cigarette out ? The truth is that not only are more teenagers
smoking than ever before, but more of them are doing it with the implied or
outright permission of their parents.
   I happen to think that it's great.
   Then again, there are places where teenagers are issued tickets for smoking
in public. What next ?
   Well, the mall isn't one of those places where they care about crap like
that. So it's one of the places I like to go when I'm between ideas- work
ideas, after all, there's some sort of idea always floating around inside the
dome.  But no one at the mall is going to hassle the girls, not the ones who
are there to work and especially not the ones who are there to spend their
parents' money.
   I must have spent half an hour there, maybe longer. Didn't talk to anyone.
Just watched and listened and thought about how thankful I am to have a job
which allows me this when I want it.	
   By the time I ran a few errands and got back towards home, it was already
   I was driving down Jacques Lane, just past the pizza place, when I saw
Felicia walking down the opposite side of the road. She had something in her
left hand- I couldn't quite tell what, although it certainly had a familiar
look to me for obvious reasons. But strangely enough I didn't make the
   The sun had given way to the sort of angry thunderheads you only see on humid
summer days, so I thought I'd better offer Felicia, who was still almost two
miles from home, a ride. I was in the act of lighting a cigarette, so I eased
the car over to the side of the road and let her draw even as I took that
marvelous first inhale. It felt so good I'm afraid I didn't pay close
attention to what she was holding.
   Felicia's a smart girl- she didn't need to be asked to slip into the car but
went round to the passenger side and settled in, hiding her cargo in the
   "How's it going, Sanna ?" she asked with her usual cheerful nature intact.
   I drew on my cigarette again and considered broaching the topic of her
parents taking up smoking, then decided to hold off.
   "Not bad. I got a lot done this morning."
   "You're getting back late from your morning drive, aren't you ?"
   "I went to the mall to people watch for a while. You visit Ophelia this
morning at the pizza place ?"
   "Yeah. She had something for- something to tell me."
   "Anything exciting ?"
   "Just the usual recycling of boyfriends. She never quite dumps any of them.
Just makes them ride the bench for a few quarters. Plus that Jack guy is still
hounding her."
   As I drew again on my cigarette I couldn't help but notice that she was
watching me smoke. You can imagine that I'm as sensitive to this as anyone
could possibly be.
   And then it hits me.
   The perfect cigarette. I'm smoking the perfect cigarette and what a time for
it to happen to me. 
   This is something that only another smoker could understand. A non-smoker can
read this and be educated, but they cannot actually understand what it is that
I'm talking about, and while I don't blame them for this deficiency, they are
certainly missing something extraordinary.
   The first cigarette from a pack is always special. That cellophane does serve
a purpose, after all, keeping out moisture and temperature variables which can
make a cigarette go stale in the course of a few hours. But it's not just that
first cigarette which has the opportunity to be perfect. No, each one from the
pack has the potential, when you come down to it.
   What makes the perfect cigarette ? Some of it's real, some of it's almost
philosophical in nature.
   This happened to be the tenth cigarette from my daily pack. Everything about
it was as I would hope. It was burning at precisely the right rate. The taste
was full but sweet. The third inhale allowed me to trim the squareness off the
ash. The smoke that I pulled deep into my lungs was entirely satisfying. The
cigarette even looked right in my hand.
   So there was only one thing I could do- and those of you with experience in
this will know exactly what that was before I tell you. That's right- if
you're ever going to share a cigarette with someone- especially a beautiful
young woman like Felicia, whose looks alone are delicious- almost edible- it
should be a cigarette that you know is perfect.
   Will it be perfect to her as well ? 
   One must have hope.
   I keep my garage door opener velcroed to the underside of my seat, but she
doesn't know that. With rain threatening, it's a perfect excuse, since I will
be parking in the garage.
   "Can you hold my cigarette for me ? I think the garage door opener slid under
the seat."
   Felicia just nods and I savour the anticipatory look in her eyes. I cross my
body with my left hand, hold fingers extended towards her. She reaches across
her body and takes the cigarette between the first two fingers of her right
   The hold is, to labour a single word, perfect.
   "Have you smoked before ?" I asked cleverly, indicating that she will smoke
now. I hope it's a powerful suggestive.
   "Well," Felicia says, and I can see she stands on the brink of a
disappointing lie which will damage our relationship. "Yes, once when I was
eleven. Why do you ask ?"
   "Because you're holding that cigarette like you know what to do."
   It's true. If you've seen those ads for 54 you know what I mean. She's doing
Neve Campbell, sitting there with this long cigarette held straight up by her
face, wrist and fingers pointed upwards. It's classic smoker.
   "Well, I know what it's supposed to look like."
   We're so close to home and I don't want this moment to end yet. Just as I'm
thinking that there's no way to prolong it, a squirrel runs out into the road.
It's coming to see a dead friend that must just have been hit. It stops and
then looks at me as though saying `Go ahead'. I slow to a stop and honk. It
doesn't move.
   Luck is such a wonderful thing.
   "You know what it looks like, but do you know what to do with it ?" I ask,
the devil inside me taking reign. No normal person would push this girl to
smoke my perfect cigarette, but then again, as I said before-
   She looks at me and the confusion I expect to see isn't there. She brings the
cigarette to her mouth, opens her lips, places them a bit farther up the
filter than absolutely necessary, but I'm not going to complain. She manages a
full inhale without hollowing out her cheeks- a bonus, as I'm not an hollow
cheek fan of any sort, and catches the smoke.
   I can see that it almost overwhelms her, but she holds it, avoids coughing.
She's let her lips close as she removes the cigarette from between them, and
she doesn't open it again to exhale, instead pushing smoke out through her
   The effect it has on me is predictable. I feel warm inside. 
   Knowing his work is done, the squirrel bolts out of the road. Perhaps he was
paying his last respects to the departed.
   Not wanting her to overdo it, I put my hand out and she returns the cigarette
before I start driving again. The moment however, is not, as the faithless
among you might think, over. No, not at all. Of course, I don't know that she
has a pack of cigarettes of her own yet- or her mother's tacit permission to
smoke if she so choose.
   "I won't say anything to your Mom," I say, trying to show that I'm cool and
clever. I should know better.
   "Oh, when they told me they were taking up smoking again, Mom said that it
was fine with them if I at least experimented myself."
   "How did you find the experiment ?" I ask through my exhale as I turn down
our street.
   "I liked it. A lot. Which is cool, because I had Ophelia buy me these-"
   She holds up the cigarettes- her cigarettes- and I admit, only to myself,
that I'm impressed. And here I thought I had a project on my hands. Instead, I
was only allowed to be the final catalyst. Not quite as excitong, but the
reward is paid out much more quickly, which I like.
   "I take it that's your first pack ?"
   "Yes," Felicia says, almost sheepishly, as though that's something to be
ashamed of.
   "Well, you're in for a treat."
   "The first cigarette from the pack ?" she asks knowledgeably, determined to
ruin any hope I have of providing a smoker's wisdom.
   She sees my face drop slightly, because she's a perceptive girl. As I turn
into the driveway she adds "Ophelia told me all about that. How the first
cigarette is the best and they get stale after a day or two."
   "You don't notice how they get stale until you've been smoking a while, but
she's right. Is there anything that you don't know about smoking you'd like me
to share ?" I ask, which is my way of admitting total defeat.
   "How long does it take to get good at it ?" she asks. I like this question.
It shows purpose and intent.
   "Judging from the way that took that inhale, I'd say that you won't need very
long at all. Go ahead and light one of those. We'll take some pictures and go
from there."
   She looks as though she likes the idea. We get out of the car as she strips
away the cellophane. She tosses it into an open garbage can and places the
cigarette in her mouth. Already she's answering the how long question with not
long at all. She looks marvelous, standing there as she lifts the lighter to
her mouth. Much better looking at it than anyone else I've seen today, and
I've seen quite a bit of smoking.	
   The lighter is lifted to the cigarette carefully. She gets the tip to catch
and then inhales, not too sharply, not quite as deep as in the car, but it's a
good inhale, and I know that I'm going to enjoy snapping her picture. 	
   She draws the cigarette from her mouth and smoke trails out. The humid air is
perfect because the smoke languishes around her and I'm glad I've turned off
the AC in the house. I open the side door and we walk inside as I light
another cigarette. I let her walk ahead of me, sizing her up, getting a feel
for how to best capture her on film. It's going to be easy. She'll make the
camera take her in.
   I have an idea. I ask her to sit down at the dining room table-don't ask why
I have a dining room with table and chairs when I live alone- it's a long
story- and pour two glasses of Volpe Pasini Pinot Grigio. I've seen her take
wine with dinner at her house- Diane and James feel sorry for me and have me
over now and again out of the sincere goodness of their pitying hearts- so I
figure it's okay.
   I hand her one, take a long sip of my own, and then pick up my Quicktake
digital camera.
   She's holding the cigarette up by her ear and takes a sip of the wine,
knowing what I want her to do without asking. I get in two of her doing that
and then before I can ask her to smoke again, she does as I would have asked.
   The way she moves the cigarette makes me wish I was getting more than stills.
The one thing about digital cameras is that the wait between shots is a little
on the longish side, enough time for me to draw on my own cigarette between
each take. Still, I can tell I'm getting plenty of workable stuff. I wonder
what she'll do with copies I give her. I know I plan to keep a set for myself.
   I get through half the exposures and disappointedly think that will be it.
She works on finishing her cigarette.	
   "You'll have to give me a minute after I finish this one," she says somewhat
sheepishly. "Unless you shot the whole disk."
   "No. I'm only halfway there. You, on the other hand, are much farther along
than halfway."
   She is obviously flattered, but the truth is I'm not exaggerating in the
least. She really looks like a veteran smoker, which is what makes it a
pleasure, after all.
   "So you think I have a future as a smoker ?" she asks, and I just smile.
   We small talk as we wait for her to get ready to have another cigarette. That
takes about twenty minutes, which is fine, because I really like Felicia.
She's bright erudite, utterly charming, and we share a lot of similar
opinions. The time goes by quickly and so does the wine. By the time she's
ready, she and I have kicked the entire bottle.
   She undoes the first two buttons of her blouse and her long blonde hair gets
down inside her collar. The pictures I'm taking are so perfect that I can't
wait to have some time alone with them. As soon as we're done, we rush
upstairs and I transfer them to my Powerbook and we start to look at them.
They are, as a group, nothing short of stunning. She's made to smoke for the
camera and I hope that she realises this. I mean, I'll admit to enjoying
watching myself smoke enough that I sometimes masturbate in front of the
mirror, but she's got me beat by a wide margin, and these are just stills.
   Finally, we have to stop looking at them and load them onto a zip disk.
   "What are you going to do with these ?" I ask as she lights her third
cigarette. I'm glad to see that she's pacing herself quite nicely.
   "I"m going to pick one or two of the best and send them to a friend of mine
named Maureen. She sent me a quicktime movie of herself smoking, and that's
what kind of got me interested. Then Mom and Dad started again. Thanks for
taking the pictures. They came out great."
   She's a little tipsy and very happy, so it's no surprise that she hugs me. I
have a low-backed chair and her breasts press up tightly against me during the
hug. Heterosexual or not, as soon as she leaves, I am going to masturbate
until I'm sore, I swear. What I wouldn't give to be a guy and feel those
breasts pressing against me that way.
   I hand her the zip disk and make some lame ass excuse about needing to get
back to work.
   She smiles warmly and then is gone. I lock my bedroom door, put fresh
batteries in the vibrator, and settle in.

   what happened ?
   Felicia smiled, knowing Maureen had gotten her pictures. No `hey how's it
going'. Just `what happened ?'
   i saw how much fun you were having smoking, and decided to try it for myself.
   no, really.
   well, mom and dad started smoking again and mom told me i was welcome to try
it and i decided why not. i tried. i liked. you can understand that, can't you
   you're a gorgeous smoker. i have a girlfriend who would die for you. my
boyfriend would die for you. i mean, jesus.
   i was afraid i wouldn't be good at it.
   get real.
   is that a positive comment on my smoking abilities.
   you are the hottest smoker I've ever seen. are you smoking now ?
   Felicia was in the middle of lighting up, so she smiled and typed you bet,
how `bout you ?
   for what ? Maureen asked.
   for letting me know how cool smoking could be. i can't believe you were
worried that I wouldn't like you or something just because you SMOKED. that's
   well, i know that now, but i didn't know that then. i'm just glad that you
joined the party. look, i have to run, but promise you'll send me more of
those pictures.
   will do. they're not that great.
   let me show them around. you'll get plenty of email arguing that point. bye.
   Felicia saved the IM window for posterity and waited for her mother to come

   It turned out to be even more anti-climactic than she had imagined. Mom had
come home, seen her sitting in the living room smoking a cigarette, and told
her that she was happy she'd taken her up on her offer. Nothing else was said
about her smoking until Dad came home. That he was happy about was obvious
because the first thing he did was suggest they go out for pizza, which he
knew perfectly well was her favourite.
   It probably never occurred to him that it would give her a chance to show off
for Ophelia, but that certainly wasn't lost on Felicia. During the short ride
to the pizzeria, she thought about various ways of letting Ophelia know. As
Dad parked the car, she knew exactly what the best way was, and she quietly
lit a cigarette before getting out of the car, amased to see that half the
pack was already gone.
   They walked inside through the post thunderstorm humidity and the hostess
expressed some silent surprise that she was faced with three smokers. 
   "I won't be able to give you your usual table tonight. But Ophelia is working
the smoking section- two of our regulars are out so she got a change of
scenery tonight. I'll send her right over."
   James smiled at the hostess, an old friend and fellow smoker.
   They were lead to a table in the back of the giant restaurant and sat down
only seconds before Ophelia darted over to them. Felicia was sitting next to
her and her friend grabbed her forearm and shook it in solidarity but said
   "Can I get you the usual ?" she asked, her voice silky and joyous.
   "Sure," James said, "but aren't you due for your break, Ophelia ? I'll bet
that Felicia would love to join you outside." 
   Felicia had no idea that this was part of her parents' plan, but she
appreciated it nonetheless and quickly agreed to meet Ophelia outside in five
   "Thanks, Dad," she said. "You guys are being so supportive. I can't believe
   "Well," Diane said, trying for the same tone her daughter had given them last
night, just to tease her. " I suppose we can't actually stop you from smoking,
so we might as well at least pretend the idea pleases us, don't you think ?"
   Felicia smiled, understanding the joke well enough.
   "Thanks, guys."
   "Go and wait for Ophelia, sugar."
   As their daughter left, Diane looked at James with a wry smile on her face.
"Sure you don't want to go watch ?"
   He answered with a mild glare so that he wouldn't have to tell his wife a

   Felicia and Ophelia lit the first of many cigarette they would smoke
together. They didn't talk at first, but just smoked in erstwhile silence. It
felt good to Felicia, sharing this thing together, not needing words but
rather just enjoying one another's company quietly.
   That was when a late model Camaro pulled into the parking lot, and finally
the silence was broken.
   "Shit," Ophelia said, and not recognising the car immediately, Felicia looked
at her friend strangely.
   "It's Jack Handley. That bastard."
   Felicia understood but she didn't. Most of the girls in their school would
have loved the attention Jack paid Ophelia, but Felicia understood why her
friend was sick of the vacous idiot. He wouldn't take no for answer, and
despite his nice car and cool clothes, he was first and foremost just an
idiot. Felicia had watched Ophelia try to blow him off dozens of times, but he
always came back for more punishment. Still, he took his one shot for the day
and then left her alone. It wasn't that big a deal- not to her way of
thinking. But Ophelia didn't agree.
   Ophelia drew deeply on her cigarette and then resigned herself to another
encounter with Jack and his friends Kellie and Nathan.
   "I've tried everything, you know. I hate to be an egoist, but I'm sure that
he's just here because he knows that I'm working tonight."
   "He might like pizza, Oph."
   "There are two pizza places closer to where he lives, and one of them has
better pizza."
   Felicia felt bad for her friend, in a way. 
   In way. After all, not everyone had rich- if stupid- and good looking boys
chasing them.
   Felicia could attest to that.
   "I have an idea," she said, following this statement with a nose exhale.
   "I'll try anything," she said as the three got out of the car and walked
towards them. Jack was already smiling, almost within earshot.
   "Anything ?"
   "Anything. You get Jack off my back and I swear, you'll be the maid of honour
at my wedding."
   Felicia waited. She knew Jack. He wasn't the type to yell across the parking
lot. He liked to work in close, so she just took another draw on her cigarette
and held on to her idea.
   Just as he opened his mouth, just after Ophelia had taken her usual deep
inhale, Felicia turned and kissed her as hard as she could. At first there was
shock in Ophelia's eyes and her mouth was closed, but as she glanced at Jack
and saw the open disgust on his face, she opened her mouth and accepted
Felicia's livid tongue. They kissed one another hard and the only thing
Felicia found herself thinking was how wonderful Ophelia's mouth tasted.
   They held the kiss for a long time.
   Finally, Ophelia muttered "Okay, they're gone."
   Felicia smiled at her friend.
   "Was that really necessary ?"
   "You know it was."
   Ophelia hugged her friend. 
   "Of course it was."

   James and Diane were lying together naked. The sex, once again, had been
awesome. He rubbed the bite on the underside of his leg, knowing it would be a
day or so before it healed.
   Diane looked so sated. Which she was.
   She smiled at him, her teeth red with his blood. 
   "I guess that Ophelia and Felicia didn't realise that we could see across the
entire restaurant and right out the front window."
   "I think it's kind of funny," he said, trying for a neutral tone.
   "I think it probably turned you on," Diane said, and he didn't try to argue
with her. Still, he had been happy that Felicia had explained herself, had
explained the kiss. Not that he would have been that upset, but he was hoping
for grandchildren some day in a vague sort of way.
   "Why did it take us so long to realise that we were idiots for quitting ?"
   Diane smiled at him again. She enjoyed showing him her teeth at times like
this, for obvious reasons. He was amased that she could smoke when she was
like this, but he was also glad.
   "Who cares ? I'm just glad we started again. Don't take this the wrong way,
but our sex had gotten rather pedestrian."
   He watched his wife smoke for a while and then turned serious. Diane saw the
look in his eyes and sighed.
   "You're thinking that we told her we started smoking again so maybe we should
tell her- other things."
   "I hate when you do that, you know."
   "I know. But it's built in. There's nothing I can do about it. Now, do you
want to keep watching me smoke, or do you want to have all these serious
thoughts ?"
   James lay back and answered her question with his eyes, and she certainly
didn't disappoint.

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