(by an4@anon.lelnet.com, 09 January 1998)

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Smoking From All Sides ( Glamor - Pics | Female Celebrity Smoking List )
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   "What the hell is she doing ?"
   The cameras were all focussed on the teenage girl who had just stepped
outside of the courthouse into the light of day. The first thing that she did
was pull a pack of Marlboro Lights 100s from her purse and light a cigarette
with amasingly steady hands.
   There was the sound of camera motors whirling and reporters asking questions.
Her lawyer was trying to shield her from the press of bodies, but it was
   The girl didn't move until she'd taken a long draw on the cigarette and
allowed a thick rush of white smoke to escape her lips.
   "Can you blame her, Hank ?" Nora asked, watching in fascination as the girl
ignored the reporters and concentrated on following her lawyer. And smoking
her cigarette. "After all she's been through-"
   "She's just fifteen, for Christssake, Nora."
   "So ?"
   Nora pulled a long white Virginia Slims 120 from her purse and lit it with
steady hands. Twenty-two years ago, when she'd started smoking, she'd thought
that the day would come when she and Hank- when she'd have to quit for nine
months. Looking at the girl, well, Nora wasn't sure why, but it made her think
of that, of how some incompatibility between their soma made that sort of
thing impossible.
   "So you'd think that lawyer of hers would have her better coached. She
doesn't strike a very sympathetic pose, standing their with a cigarette in her
   "Like it doesn't give you wood. Christ. Some days I think you must have
turned sixty when I wasn't looking."
   Hank got up from the couch, walked over to where Nora was sitting, and gently
rubbed her shoulders with his hands.
   "The only woman who waxes my willy with a cigarette in her mouth is you,
   She looked up at her husband of eighteen years and smiled. Then brought that
long cigarette to her mouth and gave him a treat, thinking as she often did
when she was trying to turn him on that it was a shame he'd never picked up
the habit.
   "I'd be the biggest fool in Norhampton if I believed that. Unless you want to
tell me you watch the Pretender to see what new novelty food Jarod discovers
each week."
   "Maybe I should take you in the bedroom and show you just how I feel."
   Nora drew deeply on the cigarette and gave Hank the sort of exhale that would
cause a serious disturbance in his boxers.
   God, she loved the fact that they owned a home business.
   Rick pulled into Margit's driveway slowly. He didn't like leaving the girl
here alone every day at the end of the court sessions.
   "Are you sure that you want to stay here by yourself, Margit ?"
   The girl looked at him with her steely grey eyes and smiled. "Mr. Johnson,
are you ever going to not ask me that question ?"
   She didn't get out of the car. Instead, she waited for the cigarette lighter
to pop, holding a fresh one in her left hand as she smiled.
   "I'm not afraid."
   "You must be lonely."
   "I wouldn't want to upset your wife."
   It was a very adult thing to say.
   Rick watched Margit as she pulled the ready lighter from its' slot and lit
her cigarette. God, he could watch her smoke all day. Which was the best
reason for not bringing her home. Maureen was a committed non-smoker, had in
fact talked him into the patch.
   He'd quit about six months ago, but it hadn't been the damn patch, which did
nothing for him because he actually enjoyed smoking, which was what Maureen
would never understand. Which was why he quit. 
   Now was not a good time to think about that.
   "In a few days, the trial will be over, Mr. Johnson. Then the court will
probably place me in an home somewhere and then I can be miserable all over
   She was an amasing girl. That she would willing go back into that house-
   She pulled deeply on the cigarette, and made no attempt to blow the smoke out
the open window. She watched the way Rick drank in the smoke, and it made her
feel better.
   "Want a puff ?"
   "Yeah, sure- I mean no. I couldn't."
   "You won't. But you could. Come on, I won't tell your wife. Just brush your
teeth as soon as you get home and you'll be fine."
   She held the cigarette out to him and he took it after a brief hesitation.
She knew he wanted it.
   In more ways than one.
   His inhale was slow, patient, very adult. She'd pegged him right away for a
cigar smoker, but the natural way that he worked the cigarette told her that
was not the case. He managed to make the simple act of drawing on the
cigarette seem more like an artistic expression and thought that his wife must
be an idiot.
   When he handed it back, there was the naughtiest look on his face.
   "You'd better go, Margit."
   She did as she was told, getting out of the car before she could notice that
her lawyer had lost some of calm exterior.
   The thought of going back into the house-
   There was nothing pleasant about that.
   Court would be over soon, in a day maybe, so she'd be going back to school,
back to the harsh whispers and the outright lies.
   Still, the thought of the old brick bunker was preferable to going back
inside this house, even though she knew the man responsible for turning her
life into an living hell was behind bars, locked away until they found him
guilty of making her an orphan.
   She drove the key into the lock and turned it quickly, looking over her
shoulder as she did.
   Something was still wrong. The man who'd killed her parents with a silenced
automatic was sitting in a jail cell without bail, careening towards a date
with a needle, and yet-
   The house felt cold. It was sixty outside, even warmer inside, the most
miserably unwinterlike weather for January. The skiing would be-
   Margit killed that thought as she stepped inside the house and closed the
door quickly behind her. There would be no skiing. And she had the strangest
feeling Damon Anders would never feel that evil.
   She inhaled, tried to let the smoke calm her, but it was hard. This house was
so big, so empty, and once again, as she had every day when she first walked
into the house, she had the vague notion that she was going to totally freak
out. So she held the smoke in her lungs and willed the willies to some dark
   It was only a few steps into the living room. She looked down at the rug,
which was once again a natural colour like condensed milk. The cleaners had
done a marvelous job lifting out the blood, just as they promised they would.
They'd done it for free- many people had done things for free for her since
the day it happened. Everyone- everyone outside of the school, anyway- had
done their best to make her feel-
   Human again.
   She sat down on the couch, put her head back, and drew on the cigarette
again. It calmed her slightly, but not much. A chill swept through her. The
same chill racked her frequently.
   "I wish I could stay like this for the rest of my life-" she said, but she
knew better.  The trial would end and then school would be over in a year and
an half and it would be on to college and then she'd be expected to go out and
get a job. After all this, she was supposed to have a life-
   She started to cry.

   Amy stared out at the empty expanse of the parking garage. He loved parking
   She hated them.
   There he was.  He came out of the elevator door, coat billowing behind him,
head swivelling like a goal-cam. He looked at once supremely calm and utterly
   Sometime they'd have to go for a beer. Loosen him up.
   She got out of the car.
   He passed her the pictures.
   Two bodies lying on a light coloured rug. Professional style hit, single
bullet to the brainpan. Scorch marks indicating that the muzzle of the gun had
been placed directly on the skin before discharge.
   "I've seen these pictures before," Amy said. She then lit a cigarette,
noticing the faint arching of the man's eyebrows as she took that first
   "Then you must own a television. The DeMarcos. Diane and Frederick. Gunned
down in cold blood in their own living rooms. Daughter walked in on it."
   "Yeah. The killer gave himself up. Why he didn't just kill the girl-"
   "Those weren't his orders, Agent Pondress. And the girl did hit him with a
softball bat. Fractured his knee cap. But you're right. He could have gotten
   "But he didn't. So how does this concern me ?"
   His eyes were still scanning the empty garage, as though the crew of Hard
Copy might be hidden behind a stone pillar.
   "He hasn't said a word about the motive. Hasn't said anything since he was
   "This isn't an FBI case, is it ?"
   "It has to be. Very shortly. Tomorrow morning a high-level government agency
will take Mr. Damon Anders into custody. The case will be closed. Twenty-four
hours later Damon Anders will disappear for good. That's how long you have to
find out why he murdered these two people. You'll be receiving a call in half
an hour for the deputy director. He'll instruct you to go to Norhampton and
find the missing pieces to this puzzle."
   "Let me guess- success in my current assignment is imperative, right ?"
   He turned and walked away, leaving her with nothing but the gruesome

   Frederick DeMarco was a scalar isotope chemical engineer- whatever the hell
that was. Or he had been. Diane DeMarco was a very successful author who wrote
everything from mysteries (under her own name) to romance novels (using the
pseudonym Marla Graves).  
   She'd thought that maybe the ex-Mr. DeMarco might have pulled some time as a
research chemist for DOD or the military, but there was nothing like that in
his records, and to be honest, even after reading up on what scalar isotopes
were, Amy hadn't the faintest idea what the hell he might have been working
   The local police had determined that it was a burglary gone bad. Anders had
the former Mr. DeMarco's wallet in his back pocket- twenty-seven dollars plus
credit cards. 
   Of course, that didn't jell with the assassination-style killshots, but these
were local police.
   Anders' record was less interesting. His prints confirmed his identity with
the National Database of Offenders, but that was where things got funky.
Anders was in the database- despite never having been charged with anything.
Beyond that was nothing. No drivers license, no birth certificate, not even a
credit card. There shouldn't have been a Damon Anders in any database
   Amy already didn't like this. She liked less the fact that there'd been
construction on 91 and it had taken almost four hours to get here. It was
close to ten at night now and she was about to disturb a girl who'd seen her
parents brutally murdered and the clock was ticking very quickly on a case
where she had no leads, no direction, and no faith in her ability to find
   She was almost surprised when the girl answered the door.
   "Can I help you ?" she said. Her voice was weary, unsettled. In her right
hand she held a freshly-lit cigarette.
   "Amy Pondress, FBI." Amy flashed her badge.
   "FBI ? I thought-"
   "Could I have a few minutes of your time, Miss ?"
   The girl thought about this, took a hard drag on the cigarette, and then
swung the door open.
   "Please come in. I hope you don't mind that I smoke."
   "I could use one myself, if that's okay."
   They went into the living room as Amy lit her own Marlboro Lights 100. She
knew better than to think that Margit would mind- after all, she'd seen her
smoking on television- and she'd certainly looked more composed than she did
at the moment.
   "I have to apologise, Agent Pondress-"
   "Amy- please. It's quite all right. I hate to disturb you, but this is a
matter of some urgency-"
   "They're going to take him away, aren't they ?" the girl asked, her inhale
deep. It appeared to calm her slightly.
   "Take who away ?"
   This certainly wasn't what Amy had expected. "What makes you think that ?"
   "I know a little about what my parents were working on. Together. Mom was
doing the writing, Dad the research."
   Amy was now on the edge of her seat. This was what she'd been hoping to
discover when she came here.
   "What was that ?"
   "I don't understand all the details. Dad's grasp of chemistry- his love of
chemistry- is what makes me so sure that I want to be an history major. It's
funny, you know ?" 
   Margit didn't say anything more immediately. Instead she drew on her
cigarette and smiled.
   "You'd think I'd quit, after what happened, you know ? I mean it's all about
smoking. But I have a feeling that's why you were sent here." Margit drew
deeply on the cigarette, enjoying the way it hissed as she pulled air through
the tobacco.
   "What makes you say that ?" Amy asked through her exhale.
   "Well, you practically walked in the door smoking a cigarette. That can't be
standard procedure for FBI agents. I don't believe that it's a coincidence
that you were sent here- was it ?"
   Amy thought about the pluses and minuses of being honest at this juncture and
decided that there was nothing to lose.
   "That's exactly why I'm here, actually. And I think that you have a right to
know that the man who shot your parents is going to be taken away in about
twenty-four hours, which is why I was sent here. So if you have anything that
you do know, maybe now is the time you'd want to tell me."
   Margit tapped the ash from her cigarette, and then did the strangest thing.
Although she looked like she was ready to cry, she smiled. It was a small
smile, hardly reaching the corners of her mouth. She followed it with the sort
of patient inhale common to dedicated smokers, and there was definitely
enjoyment in it.
   Amy followed suite, deciding on a nose exhale.
   "All I know for sure is that my Dad was working- you know, I even hate to say
the words. As a committed smoker- god, you must think that I'm crazy to say
that at my age-"
   All Amy could do was laugh. "You know, Margit, let me tell you something. I
was a closet smoker for years. It was the worst thing I could have done. I
mean, in a way it was wonderfully enjoyable. There was nothing like sneaking
into a store and buying a pack of cigarettes on the sly. There were times I
felt like a secret agent-"
   Blowing a rounded ball of smoke from her mouth, Margit laughed. "You are a
secret agent."
   "Well," Amy said with a grin, "not really a secret  agent. If that was the
case, I wouldn't flash my shield everywhere I go. But I think you may know
what I mean."
   "I never really had the chance to sneak around. The day I decided for sure
that I wanted to start smoking-"

   Margit watched her mom pacing the floor of the kitchen. She was what she
called ‘between ideas'. As a writer, she seemed to have few episodes of
writer's block, but when they hit, they manifested themselves in pacing fits.
Considering that Mom started each and every day, regardless of weather, with a
five mile run, it was hardly necessary to add this extra workout.
   Usually Margit didn't care. But today was different.
   After weeks of thinking about it to the point of distraction, Margit had made
a momentous decision.
   She was going to pinch one of Mom's cigarettes when she wasn't looking and
smoke it on the walk to school. Usually right after breakfast, Mom hopped in
the shower. That would give Margit two or three minutes to take what she
wanted- what she almost felt she needed- and Mom was pacing that time away
worrying some nut of an idea about some story which was slowly- far too slowly
   "You must have had a great run today," Margit said, as though she was just
making casual conversation.
   At first her mother didn't say anything. In fact, Margit was relatively sure
that her mother didn't hear her at all. Not because of any meanness or
deficiency, but just because she was intent on the turn of some character or
the twist of a phrase that might make or break a chapter. She didn't
understand her mother's creativity, but she did respect it.
   All the more if it did not interfere with her plans.
   "Are you saying that I look like I need a shower, young lady ?"
   She drew deeply on her cigarette, which was just more than half smoked. If
Margit could convince her to head upstairs before she finished it, the pack
would stay on the table. And that was what she needed.
   "Well, I wouldn't say that, Mom-"
   "I know. You're right. If you leave me like this I'll pace the floor until
noon and not get a damn thing and all the sudden I'll be standing around with
dried sweat all over my body wondering what the hell happened to the day. I'll
run along now-"
   Margit forced her eyes not to drift to the pack of cigarettes as her Mom
drifted over and kissed her.
   "You be good at school today, okay ?"
   "I promise, once I get to school, I'll be an angel."
   It was deceptive but accurate.
   Diane added a quick kiss and then slid from the room, trailing smoke as she
   There was no time to wait. Normally Margit would have stalled until she
actually heard the shower come on, then grabbed the cigarette, but she was
already budgeting additional time for smoking it, and that meant that she had
to get moving if she didn't want to be late for school.
   She reached across the table for the pack. It was an hard box of Marlboro
Lights 100s, the brand her mother had always smoked. The anticipation seemed
to trail down to the end of her fingertips as she made contact with the box.
It was so smooth and the lines so taunt. Mom had smoked about half the pack,
which was perfect. She'd never miss one.
   Realising that she was dawdling, she popped back the box top to reveal the
waiting cigarettes. Her mother always stripped the foil from the pack as soon
as she opened it- Margit promised herself that when she finally had a pack of
her own she would carefully fold the foil back after taking each cigarette
   But right now wasn't the time to start fantasying about owning a whole pack
of cigarettes. No, now was a time to pinch and run.
   The cigarette slid away from its' sisters easy. Margit palmed the prize, got
up from her chair and-
   Realised that there was no noise of the shower running. There should have
been by now-
   "I hope you're going to smoke that and not just carry it around to impress
your friends."
   "Mom !" Margit said as she saw her peering around the hallway corner. "How
long have you been standing there, and why ?"
   "Well, I decided to get a closer look at what you were doing as soon as I saw
you come downstairs this morning. You couldn't stop staring at my cigarettes
all through breakfast. You must have forgotten that I was your age once."
   "Am I busted ?"
   "Is it your first cigarette ?" 
   "It was going to be."
   "Then get going. I assume you're planning to walk to school. You'll be late.
It's windy out. Do yourself a favour and light that before you step outside.
And try to let everyone see that you're smoking, will you ?"
   "You mean not see, don't you ?" Margit asked, confused. 
   "No, I meant what I said. You're fourteen. If you want to smoke. smoke. But
don't be shy about it, okay ?"

   "It seems like that was a million years ago," Margit said, lighting another
   "You were going to use the C word, weren't you ?"
   "What ?"
   Amy also lit another cigarette. It was pleasant to be with another woman who
was such a natural smoker, even if she was only fifteen. But Amy had seen the
news footage and she expected that from Margit, who was sitting back and
holding the cigarette in such a classic way- something Amy herself had only
truly mastered once she'd started smoking openly again.
   "The C-word. All of us think about it, but we never really want to talk about
it. Before you told me the story of how you started-"
   "Yeah. I hate the word. I mean, it's a very complicated thing- we're taking
an higher risk but there's never any way to know-"
   "Is that what your Dad was working on ?"
   "On the side. I mean, he had a great job at a place even you would probably
have difficulty finding out anything about-
   Amy laughed. "I made some calls right after I learned I was getting the
assignment and no one could tell me the first thing about what Amdigen
International does. Nothing."
   "That's typical. Dad would never talk about his work work. But his side
project- well, Mom was chronicling it all. I've read her notes because his are
incomprehensible, just chemistry and physics stuff I can't begin to
   "These notes weren't taken into evidence ?"
   Margit blew a long dense cloud of smoke which drifted aimlessly above her
   "No. As far as the local police were concerned it was a simple robbery-
homicide. As if."
   Amy leaned forward, trimmed the cigarette, sat back and brought her cigarette
to her mouth. She watched the way Margit tracked the action, interest in her
   "Do you mind me saying that I think you're a very attractive smoker, Agent
Pondress ?"
   "Please, it's Amy. And no, I don't mind in the least. But the feeling is
mutual. You've really mastered a very adult way of smoking, you know that."
   "Mom used to say that. She said I smoked with more style after six months
than my Aunt Bess- her sister- does today. But half of it's the wavy blonde
hair and the black clothes. If I had brown hair and corduroys, no one would
look at me twice."
   It was true that the wavy blonde hair was a nice match for her build and
facial structure. But the tight black mock turtle and matching black dockers
she was were more appealing for the way they accentuated the best features of
her anatomy- the bulging breasts and the pert behind. Although she was clearly
wearing a bar, Amy could see her nipples anyway. It was almost enough to make
her wish she could enjoy such things.
     "I don't know about that. But you could tell me what you learned from your
mother's notes."
   "Dad was developing a chemical agent, a synthetic variant of some sort of
naturally occurring electrochemically active compound. I guess in nature it
only occurs in the presence of moderate doses of certain types of radiation,
and I'd be lying if I said I understood the first thing about how it was
supposed to cause the desired effect."
   "Which was ?"
   Before answering Margit took a deep, ironic inhale. "Well, used as a
preventative, in very small doses, it was supposed to completely eliminate the
carcinogenic effects of smoking without depriving the smoker of the nicotine
and carbon monoxide rushes."
   "As a bonus," Amy asked as Margit filled the space between them with a
delicious nose exhale which was far beyond the average fifteen year old. "It
would probably have been cheap to produce."
   "Of course. That's the real reason I think that man killed them. Not because
of what Dad discovered but because it's no more expensive to make than
   "You still have the notes ?" Amy asked, not wanting to seem greedy or
unconcerned about the girl's welfare. But the truth was that she was on a very
tight deadline and while talking to Margit was certainly stimulating, it
wasn't getting the job done.
   "Yes. I made a copy of the computerised notes to my Powerbook. They're also
up on a hidden and password protected website. I have this strange feeling AOL
would yank them if they knew what they were."
   "Can you make me a copy ? I'll need to study them."
   "Sure. I-" Margit paused, inhaled, paused some more as she held the smoke in
her lungs. "Is there any chance that you'd like to stay here tonight ?"
   "I have a room at the Relation and the last time I spent a night out of the
hotel room, my director freaked."
   "The Relation does an automatic call forwarding service. It's seamless."
   "Well, I have a few other rounds to make. People to see, but I'll bet you
don't much like sleeping here alone. Let me get my Powerbook out of the car
and we can get started."
   An hour later, Amy knew exactly where she needed to go.
   Diane and Frederick Demarco had done a marvelous job of documenting their
work. There was over one hundred gigabytes of everything from involved,
scholarly text to diagrams of chemical compounds Amy knew better than to even
try to understand. It was a codex for the new millennium, a piece that was as
artistic as it appeared to be comprehensive.
   As she drove the car towards the county jail, she had the increasing
sensation of being watched. Route 1 was a busy, four lane road, and with the
windows down, smoking one cigarette after another, it was only natural that
she would be watched. But this was different.
   No, it was that nagging sensation that one of these cars held agents from
some other government group, the one which would shortly take Damon Anders to
some safe hiding place before letting him go into the dark night of
conspiratorial bedfellows.
   There were times when she wished her Quantico-based training had been a
little more comprehensive.
   She tried to shake the feeling as she walked into the jail, but even after
she was in the interview room waiting for Anders, the sensation lingered.
   He limped in on the arm of a deputy. His right leg was in a walking cast so
that he could attend the trial, but he was still in irons, shuffling and
clanking like some modern-day Jacob Marley.
   Amy nodded at the deputy, who stepped outside. There was the sound of a lock
sliding home.
   "As my lawyer is unavailable, Agent Pondress, you'll find I won't have much
to say. I figured they'd send you."
   "I don't know you, Anders."
   "No one does. But everyone knows the FBI's ‘smoking gun.' If I were you, I'd
go back home before something bad happens."
   "Like what ? The HBO going out in my room ? Tell me, do you get HBO here ?
Showtime ? Maybe the Incarceration Channel."
   Anders reached into the pocket of his overall and produced a box of Marlboro
   "I'll assume you don't mind if I smoke ?"
   Amy responded by lighting a cigarette of her own and then one for Anders. It
was a struggle to not try and put one of his smug eyes out with the lighter.
   "So tell me, Damon- who's coming to take you away ? FBI ? CIA ?"
   Anders laughed, inhaled, made the sort of nasty twin-tracked nose exhale that
only a man could make. He didn't smoke the cigarette but rather consumed it,
without artistry. It was not pleasant to watch.
   "NSA, I imagine. And you know how they feel about FBI trailers. They're
likely to shoot you out of spite."
   "I'm likely to shoot you out of spite if you can't give me more than that."
   "Be real, Pondress. You don't think you can scare me, do you ? The people
coming for me would gut me like a fish and spread the entrails across half the
state if I gave you word one beyond what I've been instrucdted to pass along.
So try to keep up."
   Amy reached across the table and snatched the ugly little cigarette from this
ugly little man.
   "It would be real easy for the man outside this door to believe that you
dropped this cigarette in lap. By the time I get it out of there, who knows
what it might burn ?"
   Anders pointed his head towards the corner behind her right shoulder, where a
camera had been mounted.
   "Do that and my lawyer will get a walk on this. After all, the girl didn't
see me shoot them, did she ? There were no powder burns on my hands, no casing
fragments on my clothes, no blood."
   "You had his wallet-"
   "Having a man's wallet isn't a capital offence, is it."
   "How could you do that to that girl ?" Amy asked, feeling a mix of revulsion
and anger towards Damon, who merely smiled.
   "Can I have my cigarette back ? Or were you planning to soak me in gasoline
and use it to light yourself a human torch ?"
   "You're a monster, aren't you ?"
   "Demarco was a monster. He was going to unleash something that would have
thrown us back into the fifties, when there wasn't a man or woman over sixteen
who wasn't a smoker of some sort."
   "You smoke."
   She gave him the cigarette back and he drew on it immediately, leaving the
stubby harsh cigarette in his mouth when he was through.
   "That girl shattered my kneecap with a baseball bat. When this trial is over
I'll have to have major surgery. The little bitch."
   "I'll bet you don't have any parents, do you Damon ?"
   "Yeah, I know. It's impossible to believe that two human beings created
something as remarkable as me, huh ?"
   Amy walked away, trailing smoke. She was trying to enjoy what was still
sometimes a remarkable freedom to smoke when she pleased, but watching this
worm do it so poorly was upsetting.
   "Come on, Pondress. We're all adults here, aren't we ?"
   "What does that mean ?"
   "A cure for smoking related ailments no more expensive than aspirin ? Do you
know how many billions of dollars that would cost the pharmaceutical industry
? And don't give me that, ‘Isn't this all about eliminating smoking ?' crap."
   Amy laughed. "That would be like the same people who own HMOs and hospitals
trying to eliminate disease."
   "So," Amy said, walking closer, trying to feign indifference, "now that you
and I understand each other so well, tell me who's coming to whisk you away."
   "You've met her. The non-smoking woman. She told me to give you just enough
to tease you, and I've done that, so-"
   "Guard !" he yelled.
   He started to stand up, the almost spent butt of his cigarette still in his
mouth. Amy put her own between her lips and managed to dangle it prettily as
she used her hands on his shoulders to shove him back into his seat.
   "You're done when I say that you're done. Tell me more about Dr. DeMarco's
   Anders spit his cigarette cleanly into the ashtray, turned his head up at
her, and smiled wanly.
   "Why not ? They wanted you to find his research. That's why you were sent
   "Tell me more," Amy insisted, pulling on the cigarette before removing it
from her mouth. As she did, she noticed that Anders was rubbing himself.
   "What the fuck are you doing ?"
   "Watching you smoke is a heady little turn on, Agent Pondress."
   Looking past his hands, she saw that it was indeed.
   Resisting the urge to punch him, she merely said "Enjoy it while you can.
You'll be taking from the other end soon."
   "That's wishful thinking. As far as I'm concerned, I didn't do a damn thing.
As soon as I can walk, I'll be walking away from this."
   His breathing was growing irregular and ragged.
   "Yeah, they wanted you to find the research. You'll eventually discover the
final reagent isn't in the documentation. DeMarco took that to the grave with
   "So why let me find it ?"
   "You don't see how the game is played. Right now, you're one of the most
important pieces they have. They'd never find someone willing to trust them
who could finish the good doctor's work. But you can, and when you do-"
   "They'll find some other piece of scum to do the same thing you did."
   "Whatever. It's always going to be like that for you. Until you go too far
and then you'll be as expendable as anyone else-"
   "Did she tell you to tell me all this ?"
   Anders laughed. "She told me enough to figure out the rest. It's not hard to
understand her. It's just hard to beat her, and you haven't got what it takes.
Oh, she knows you have some mystery patron, but he can't protect you. No one
   Amy finished her cigarette. She then drew her service piece from its holster.
   "Right now, no one can protect you, Damon."
   "Maybe not. But you won't do it-"
   Without hesitation, she placed the muzzle to his scalp and pulled the
   The gun clicked harmlessly and she was gratified by the larger, more
aggressive wet spot which stained Ander's smock.
   "Didn't anyone ever tell you that you should always piss after you
masturbate, dickhead ?"
   Without further conversation, she called for the guard.

   He was waiting for inside the convenience store.
   She had no idea how he knew she was out of cigarettes, anymore than how he
could have known that she would drive three miles out of her way to find a
store to buy them at.
   He was studying the milk cooler as though it held some dark mysterious
   "They've got a special on whole milk," he said, his voice gravelly, his round
jaw working the words like chewed glass.
   "Maybe I should get some."
   "I wouldn't if I were you. Stick to coffee. It could be a long night, Agent
   She waited for him to continue.
   "I thought you would know better than to point your gun at a murder suspect
on camera. But I'm impressed. He told you considerably more than I expected.
Everything we needed to know."
   "He told me nothing. It was all lies and-"
   "On the contrary. He told you the one thing you need to understand. When you
get back to the office, I'll expect you to turn that information over to me."
   "Why ?" Amy hissed angrily.
   "Because he was right. In your hands, that information could only serve to
get someone killed. In mine-"
   "Yes ?" Amy said.
   "-I have contacts you don't, Pondress."
 	"What about Anders ?"
   "That's not your concern."
   "Like hell it's not. He killed that girl's parents."
   "It's not your concern. It's past time you learned that you're still just a
foot soldier, Agent Pondress. The girl, on the other hand-"
   "What about Margit ?"
   "Until this matter is settled tomorrow, she remains in considerable danger.
After that, they won't risk further expose. If I were you, I'd see that she
was someplace safe for the night. And I wouldn't plan on sleeping."
   "That's it."
   "Yes. You've done well. And I rarely say that. Now leave before someone sees
us together."
   As Amy walked from the store she found herself wishing she knew his name so
she could hate him properly.

   "Sorry there's only one bed," Amy said to Margit as she dropped her gym bag
on the floor.
   "I don't mind."
   Amy heard the odd tone of her voice and wondered.	
   "Is that you don't mind, or you really don't mind ?"
   She found it hard to believe that she was asking a fifteen year old girl this
   "God," Margit said. She sat down on the bed, kicked off her shoes, and lit
the first cigarette from the fresh pack that Amy had bought her at the vending
machine a few moments ago.
   "You'll think I'm crazy. Right now, I feel a little crazy-"
   "It's understandable. I'd say that I understand, but how could I ?"
   She sat down on the bed next to Margit and held out her right hand. Margit
slipped the cigarette into it and she inhaled deeply before passing it back.
Soon the two were bathed in an unmoving haze of sweet smoke.
   "I'm bi, you know. You're probably wondering how a fifteen year old girl can
know that-"
   "Not at all."
   Margit detected the hesitation in her voice. "You don't quite mean that, do
you ?"
   Amy smiled. "No." She held her hand out again, but this time Margit climbed
behind her and brought the cigarette around to her mouth. Her hands were so
perfect. No age lines, just the sort of soft hands only a fifteen year old
girl could have, milky smooth.
   After she inhaled, Margit moved the cigarette to the side of her face, still
close. Amy nose exhaled and Margit said "Again," her voice sultry and sexual.
   Amy complied.
   "The truth is," Amy said, speaking through the exhale, "-there was a time I
wanted to try it. Woman to woman, I mean."
   Margit slid herself around Amy, who accepted the closeness because she
understood the girl needed that.
   "Just to know ?"
   "Yes. Just to know."
   "Have you ever found another woman attractive ?" Margit asked-

   Amy was sitting in yet another boring statistics lecture. So boring. The
professor, a blading thirtysomething with a love of manipulating data, was
droning on about the beauty of recursive logic as it applied to-
   Something or other.
   Her eyes drifted. It was an huge lecture hall, big enough to seat three
hundred fifty. There were only about seventy-five, and of them, only one held
any interest to Amy.
   She wasn't tall. In fact, she was petite, about five two. Her blonde hair was
done up in waves, cascading down off her head in a frizzy sort of infinite
variation. A controlled, intentional frizz.
   Her eyes, hidden at the moment, were so blue they were almost purple.
   Her breasts were like gently sloping mountains. She had a way of walking-
   But it wasn't the girl's walk which held Amy's attention. It was the way she
   As if the cigarette was air itself. She'd seen her all over campus, and
almost always she had a cigarette in hand, puffing away as though she didn't
have a care in the world. When she told a story the cigarette was waved
through the air like a pointer. When she left class, she could be counted on
to immediately extract a cigarette for an expensive-looking silver case, tap
it once on the closed lid, and light it with a flair which could have landed
her in movies.
   Or at least music videos.
   Amy wanted to meet her because-
   The way she usually felt about guys-
   It was the way she felt about this girl. There were times after she went to
bed at night-
   That she was glad she was a woman. Guys ended up with such a nasty byproduct
after they masturbated. Not that they ever admitted to doing it. No, they all
said it was like being homosexual, because of course they could never just
admit that in a vacuum, sexual needs would still have to be satisfied, one way
or another.
   Finally class ended.
   Amy was at the first height of her smoking habit, enjoying a pack a day, not
knowing that she would one day become nothing more than a closet smoker. As
soon as she reached the cool crisp outdoor spring air, she lit a Marlboro
Lights 100 and felt herself begin to unwind.
   It didn't last long. Suddenly there was the blonde girl, lighting one of her
impossibly long Virginia Slims 120s, and talking to Amy as she did it.
   "I don't mean to be rude, but were you staring at me in class ?"
   Amy tried to find the right answer for that question and finally decided that
there probably wasn't one.
   "Yes, actually. I'm sorry. It's an rude habit."
   Felicia took a long pull on the cigarette and waved it away from her face
with typical flourish.
   "Not at all. Frankly, I enjoy the attention."
   Amy inhaled, able to draw more smoke from her thicker cigarette. Or so she
thought. As it happened, their exhales were nearly identical.
   "You don't think it's weird ?"
   "Not at all. But then again, I'm a lesbian. I guess you're not."	
   "No, I'm just Amy."
   "Felicia. I've seen you around campus. And this isn't the first time I
noticed you watching me."
   "It's the smoking, right ?"
   Amy nodded. Felicia took another inhale, the sort which gave Amy pause to
stare openly. The girl had such a way, as though she were making love to the
burning stick.
   "You're worth watching yourself. I was kind of hoping that the attention you
were paying me was more than just idle attention, but-"
   "Are you free tonight ?"
   Felicia seemed to study some mental day planner located just above her
forehead. "I'll have to cancel the orgy, but- what did you have in mind ?"
   "Dinner. Off-campus. I have a car and to be honest-"
   "Dining room food doesn't cut it ? Sure. How about I swing by your room at
six ?"
   They became friends. They would snuggle up and watch television the way only
women could, sharing bodies without it necessarily being sexual. Although
there were times Amy felt it was- or wished it was, or at least wished she
could allow it to be. The laughed and smoked and talked together.
   Amy had no idea what had ever happened to her. But every time she saw a woman
with one of those sleek cigarettes in her hand, she wondered what could have
   And she usually regretted never telling Felicia that sometimes in the depths
of the night, she closed her eyes and masturbated to the thought of her
smoking those cigarettes.
   "Yeah. Once."
   "We used to snuggle up together, like this, and pretend that we were nothing
more than close friends."
   Margit squeezed her with her free hand and offered the cigarette with the
   "I hope you don't mind my saying I think that was a waste."
   "Not at all. I agree. If it makes you feel better, I have masturbated naked
in bed with another woman."
   "Really ?" Margit asked, intrigued.
   "I don't suppose you'd like to take that a step farther ?"
   There was a pause.
   "I suppose that you think I'm horrible for suggesting such a thing."
   Smiling, Amy vigorously disagreed. "Not at all. I think it's entirely healthy
that you can think about anything besides you parents right now. But I have a
duty to protect you, and I don't think that's what it involves. Look, why
don't we both strip down to our night clothes, get under the covers, light
cigarettes, and talk about trivial things until we fall asleep."
   "I sleep naked," Margit said.
   "Fine. Just keep that to yourself. I'd rather not have it known that I slept
naked with you. Especially since I usually sleep naked as well."
   "That's a start."
   Amy woke up first. She rolled over, lit a cigarette and lay back. It was
amasing how good a night's sleep she'd gotten with a fifteen year old girl
wrapped around her, their naked bodied full of the intoxicating smell of
   Her first exhale of the day travelled the length of the bed before spreading.
   Margit stirred, and then there was a noise. A vibratory noise.
   Margit moved across her, her eyes gazing up at her, her chin resting between
her erect nipple. There was the brief sensation of penetration, followed by a
much more pleasant and erotic commotion down below.
   "What are you doing ?" Amy asked.
   "Thanking you for watching over me last night. For sharing yourself with me.
Just lie back and smoke for me."
   Amy did as she was asked, mixing it up until the vibrator made her inhales
and exhales more widely spaced. There was nothing like someone else working
the vibrator for you while you smoked. As the eroticism of the moment built
towards climax, Amy found herself stroking one nipple and Margit suckling the
other one.
   Then, just as she was starting to relax with a post-coital exhale, she
noticed the time.
   "Oh my god. It's eight-thirty. We have to be in court in half an hour."
   "As if that matters," Margit said sullenly. But then she brightened. "That's
okay. This is waterproof."
   They laughed, and Amy accepted that once they got under the hot water, it
would be her turn to yield the pleasure wand.

   They were standing outside the courthouse together, listen to the local news
reporter telling her story to America.
   "The man who shocked the small town of Norhampton is being led away by
federal authorities. According to initial reports, Damon Anders was barely
even listed in the National Offenders Database, however, according to
authorities he has now been identified as international terrorist Dolf Ingram,
the man believed responsible for-"
   She walked by the reporter. As he had promised last night.
   "Excuse me," the reporter said, interrupting herself as she thrust the
microphone into the non-smoking woman's face. "How can you do this to this
small town ?"
   She didn't look at the reporter. Not at first. Her gaze travelled to Amy and
there was the barest hint of something akin to a grin.
   "Mr. Anders, or Mr. Ingram, is wanted in connection to terrorist acts in nine
different countries. We're taking him in protective custody until such time as
it is deemed that he can be tried for all of crimes without fear for his
safety or the safety of others. I would like to make it clear that he will be
called upon to answer the charges brought against him here in Norhampton- at
the appropriate time."
   "Which government agency are you with ?"
   "One of them," she said, and turned away.
   That would have been it.
   Except that even as Anders, shuffling and limping, surrounded by agents in
full riot gear, looked up at a building across the street, a shot rang out.
   Amy recognised it from weapons training as the report of a high-powered
single action rifle- very popular among the assassination crowd.
   On cue, Ander's head rocked back and there was an explosive jet of bone and
blood. Spectators scattered, the newswoman unceremoniously hit the gravel, and
Margit ducked behind Amy, but Pondress never moved.
   After all, she imagined she knew who had pulled the trigger.

   Nora and Hank were arguing over which one of them was more nervous when the
door swung open, revealing the girl and a social worker.
   It had been almost four hours since Nora had partaken of a cigarette. They
were afraid the social worker would think less of them if they smelled smoky,
so she'd abstained since their morning shower, which was in large part why
they were so irritable with one another. But that irritability faded when they
saw the girl.
   She was beautiful, with an adultish build and a warm, if awkward smile. And
any worrying they had done about smoking was proven silly. Both the social
worker, a buxom redhead with a toothy smile in her mid-twenties and Margit
were smoking cigarettes, the girl a Marlboro Lights 100 and the woman a
Virginia Slims.
   "I just have one question," Margit said. "How permissive would you be towards
my smoking ?"
   Nora reached into her purse and lit a 120. "If that's the only issue here, I
think we can expect pretty clear sailing."

   It had been almost three weeks since she had seen him. During that time the
girl had been placed in foster care and the authorities had publicly given up
on finding Anders' killer.
   She was sizing up red leaf lettuce when he brushed past her, his long black
overcoat rustling.
   "Why did you do it ?"
   "My refrigerator is bare, Agent Pondress."
   "That's not what I mean."
   The man picked up a bunch of scallions, inspected them as though they might
have a listening device planted between them, and dropped them again.
   "I told you he wasn't your concern. I never said that he wasn't mine."
   "He could have implicated them."
   "They are beyond implication. I would have thought that you understood that
by now. I didn't come here to discuss history, Agent Pondress."
   "It couldn't have been for the lettuce prices," she quipped.
   "Keep that sense of humour. You're going to need it. Tomorrow morning,
Director Arose is going to send on a very important assignment. Be very
careful. Some very high placed people have decided that you present a danger."
   She put down the lettuce and turned to look at him.
   But he was gone.
   Suddenly she didn't feel like shopping anymore.
   Instead, she walked outside, lit a cigarette, and thought happy thoughts
about Felicia.

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