Lurker Chronicles (incomplete), Part 1

(by The Lurker , 03 December 1996)


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The Lurker Chronicles

	Welcome to the Lurker Chronicles. Even though I know a great many of 
you through ASG, ASFS, and personal email, I have decided to post this 
collection of stories anonymously.
Privacy, as we all know, is a dicey thing. No one will find these tales 
unless they are looking for them, but anybody who cares to can find ME, 
along with all that is about to follow.
And that could pose a bit of a problem, because you see, every single 
word of what I am about to tell you is true...

Chapter One
In The Still Of The Night

	The sound of the telephone is like a gunshot in the darkened room, so 
intense and unexpected that I will swear afterward that I saw a flash of 
bright light at the instant that it rang. Confused, I try to focus on 
the clock beside the bed, but it's still too dark to see much detail, 
and besides, if you want to know the truth of it, I'm not much good  
without my glasses on anyway. Not that it really matters, I think to 
myself as I roll over and grab for the receiver.  There's only one 
person who would have enough nerve to call me this early, especially on 
a Sunday.
	"David! Are you awake?" There are about a thousand things that I could 
say, but I know better. Instead, I just sigh into the mouthpiece and 
answer the question with one of my own.
	"Christ, Brenda, what the hell time is it? I didn't get in until after 
three, you know." I'm still dazed a bit, still hunting for the clock, 
and there is a the briefest moment of silence on the other end of the 
line. Then, in one split second, every fiber of my body comes alive. I 
hold my breath, straining to listen, and then I hear it.
There is a gentle little "pop" as she pulls the cigarette from between 
her lips, then, another short pause, and finally, I hear the long slow 
hiss as the greatest female smoker I have ever known sucks one in, right 
down to the soles of her feet.
	"Oh God. It must be eight, or maybe even later. I don't know for sure. 
I've been up all night, working." The sentence trails off into oblivion, 
and I can hear the air coming out of her nose at the end of it, the 
little whisps and remnants of the drag. Another pop. Another hiss.
	"David? Are you awake or what?"
	"Mmmmmm...?" I don't want to talk, not just yet. I want to hear the pop 
and the hiss again, just one more time before I die. If I close my eyes, 
I can see her, just like she was sitting right here beside me, bent over 
the terminal where she has been for probably the last 10 hours, laboring 
over God knows what, getting up only to empty the overflowing ashtray, 
and maybe heat up her cup of tea in the nuker. Every ten minutes or so 
she stops to light a fresh cigarette, using the Zippo that I gave her as 
a good-bye present when we graduated.
	Ah, Brenda. I know her so well. She'll take three long, slow drags 
without stopping, inhaling each one in on top of the last until her 
lungs can hold no more, and then release them, slow and creamy through 
her nose, while filling her mouth with the fourth and largest puff. 
Finally, she'll pull the smoke away from her lips with that little "pop" 
sound, and open up for a second so that the smoke ball can dance around 
a bit before she finally snaps it back and it vanishes. This is the drag 
that Brenda holds, and hold it she does, sometimes for as long as ten 
seconds, before she finally puts her head back and blows it gently 
toward the ceiling. If you get Brenda on that very first drag, and if 
the light is just right, you can still see the smoke coming out of her 
eight or ten breaths later.
	I've always thought that she should have her own TV show; "Brenda 
Smokes in the City", or maybe "Brenda and Friends".  Something like 
that. I know she could do it if she wanted to. Brenda Lewis can do 
anything.
	"David!" The throaty voice is a little more insistent now. "C'mon. Wake 
up. I've got something really important to talk to you about."
	"I told you, Bren. I'm awake. I'm just.....thinking.  That's all."
	"Like hell you are". The voice is a little softer now, and I can hear 
the smile in her tone.
"You're just laying there in bed, probably with your hand on your 
pecker, and you're listening to me smoke, aren't you? God. You're such a 
pervert. You really are! Remind me to lock up my daughters around you. 
That is, I mean , if I ever have any daughters."
	It's a good joke, and I laugh softly back at her.
	"Just make sure they never take up the habit, Bren. That's all. 
Besides, you know I'm more into the mature, femme fatale type. Somebody 
like yourself, for instance. Why don't you take a couple more drags for 
me, and then maybe I'll let you tell me what's up?"
	Now it's her turn to laugh. "Sorry, pal. The concert is over for now. 
That was my last one until I get to the store, and besides, I need your 
undivided attention. I really want to tell you about my idea."
	Brenda is like a dog with a bone once she gets on to something, so I 
know there's nothing more to do than to lay back, fix my pillow, and 
settle in for the long haul while she clues me in. Besides, I don't 
really mind. I could listen to that voice forever. It's like a piece of 
handmade fabric, soft and warm, but still rough; the product of  thirty 
or so Camel Lights a day for more years than either one of us cares to 
remember. She used to smoke straight Camel Filters, back in college, but 
like the rest of us, she's tried to tone it down in recent years, all 
the while making up for it with the double and triple drags that now 
have become her inimitable trademark.
	I don't know why I have the fetish. I don't know where it came from, or 
what it means, or how it has conspired to direct the course of my life, 
but I do know that it has been with me since my earliest conscious 
memory. I can recall sightings as far back as 3 or 4 years old, in as 
vivid and perfect detail as if they had happened only moments ago. Every 
movement, every nuance is etched into my cortex as if it were drawn with 
the tip of a white hot needle, a sort of traveling slide show that is 
indelibly branded into my brain with a completeness that is unmatched by 
any other form of memory. It was years before I came to understand those 
feelings as sexual, more years before I came to terms with what I 
finally realized was my needless guilt about being different, and many 
more years before I learned, much to my amazement, that I was not the 
only one.
	I like to watch. In the club. In the car. In the mall. On the beach. It 
doesn't really matter very much where. There is something so personal 
about the way that a woman smokes, and if she does a good job of it, it 
becomes a completely un-self conscious act, something that is so natural 
to her pattern of being, and so far away from the mask that she may wear 
when she deals with the world, that to me, it's almost like seeing her 
naked. Like a private baring of the soul.
	So that's where I'm coming from, and this is the tale, the tale of the 
Lurker. It really starts a long time ago, on October 17th, 1979, in the 
student Pub at the University of Western Ontario, and I'm telling it for 
one reason, and one reason only.
	But we'll get to all of that.
	Don't let anybody tell you that college life is all rosy. For me, at 
least during my freshman year, there were a lot of ups and downs, and 
more than a few sleepless nights. I wasn't exactly a geek in high 
school, but I sure as hell wasn't the homecoming prince, either, and I 
spent most of that first 10 months more dazed and confused than 
anything. Everyone took General Arts in those days, because jobs were so 
plentiful that nobody ever really thought that they would have to 
actually LEARN to do anything, and that was a philosophy that suited me 
just fine. Back in Toronto I had always hung out with the creative kids. 
We played music. We wrote. We smoked dope and we thought deep thoughts, 
and we never really gave a shit about tomorrow. Here at UWO though, it 
was different. In this place were the musicians, the writers, the dope 
smokers and the thinkers whose well heeled parents gave a great deal of 
shit about tomorrow, and who had every intention of seeing their kids go 
on to run the country. Don't get me wrong on this, though. My parents 
were ANYTHING but rich. I was only there because of the high school 
music teacher who believed I was going to be God's gift to the piano.
	I lived in the pub, of course. Where else would a tried and true, 
lifetime member, card carrying smoking fetisher possibly want to spend 
his time? In those days, EVERYBODY smoked.   Tall girls. Short girls. 
Plump girls in plaid skirts, and future models in mini dresses. Mostly 
rich, and a few not-so-rich. They were all there in that pub, and all 
puffing up a storm. They smoked DuMaurier Kings and Rothmans and Craven 
Menthols and Peter Jacksons, and a few of them still hung on to the 
incredibly strong Mark Tens and Players Filters and Export A's that they 
had grown up swiping from their parents' open packs. They French inhaled 
and learned to do poppers and double drags, and they practiced exhales 
while talking and laughing so that they could learn to look smooth and 
natural as the smoke came out of their lungs, and not choke.  I used to 
sit by the bar, sometimes for hours at a time, just doing my homework or 
staring into space (or at least that's what everybody who saw me 
thought). I may have felt like a stranger in the school, but in that 
Pub, I was a dog in a hamburger factory.
	Ask anybody, anybody at all who has truly has the fetish, and they'll 
tell you that there's a feeling that you get when you watch a woman 
smoke. It's better than any dirty movie that you could ever watch; 
better than any pornography that you could ever read, and at least as 
good, if not better, than any sex you have ever had or dreamed about.
	At least it always has been for me.
	I had my favorites, too, especially the group I called the fearless 
foursome, a ratpack of obviously well-off girls who always came in 
together and sat at the bar, sipping Cokes. I don't think I ever saw 
them wear the same clothes twice. The leader was a slim, freckled girl 
with frizzy red hair who did more holding than she did smoking. She 
would light up her cigarette and then wave it around while she talked, 
sometimes not bothering to take a drag until it was half gone. You know 
the type. Lot's of potential, but no talent. I'm sure she must have quit 
by now. 	Fortunately, her friends did a lot better, especially the dark 
haired beauty with the big eyes who everyone called "Kit". Kit was the 
quiet one in the group, content to sit at the bar smoking the Marlboro 
Reds that her mom used to send her, while she listened to everyone else 
talk up a storm. Kit had great style, and no one could top her light 
ups. First, she would shake a cigarette out of the pack, and then slowly 
roll it between the thumb and forefinger of both hands. I later learned 
that she did this to loosen up the tobacco so that it would burn better. 
When she was finally satisfied that the smoke was loose enough, she 
would place the filter exactly in the center of her mouth, lips pursed 
so as not to disturb her lipstick, and flick her lighter, gently moving 
it back and forth across the end until the cigarette was perfectly and 
evenly lit.
	Kit never inhaled the first puff. Instead, she would drag deeply, and 
then open the side of her mouth, and let the thick smoke gently escape. 
It was obvious that she needed that first real inhale to be a 
ever met a more generous, well mannered and polite person in my life, 
and not the least bit affected by her parents' money.
	Although we didn't know each other at all, we DID have a few classes 
together, and for the first couple of weeks of school, I had checked 
Lani out pretty good, fantasizing (naturally) as to whether or not she 
was a smoker. After class I would run sometimes, following her 
discreetly through the hall to see if maybe she was headed outside to 
have one, or scout around the cafeteria at lunch, just trying to catch a 
glimpse of her in the smoking section, but it never paid off. She was 
just too much into her school work, and always seemed to be in a hurry 
to get someplace important.
	Then, one night, after I had all but given up, she just breezed into 
the Pub with the others and took a seat at the bar, carefully crossing 
her legs and placing her small black purse on the counter. The girls all 
ordered Cokes, and as the waiter put them down, Lani reached for the 
purse, leaving it wide open on the bar as she took out her wallet. 
Instantly, my heart began to pound like a jackhammer. I stood up as 
nonchalantly as I could and began to move slowly  toward her. I was 
trying to be cool, but it was hard, because my legs were beginning to 
shake, and everything around me was kind of foggy.
	You know that feeling, don't you? It was like I was looking down a long 
tunnel and the only thing I could really see was that black leather 
purse at the end of it. I was hunting for a spot, a place where I could 
get real close and see, and yet not be noticed by the girls. The Pub was 
crowded, though, and really the only place I could stand was right 
beside her, so I took a deep breath and moved in.
	Lani was sitting sideways on the stool, and she had her back to me. It 
was tight, really tight, but somehow I managed to squeeze in beside her, 
right there at the bar. God. I was so close to her. That raven hair was 
just inches from my face, and when she tossed it back, I  got hit with 
this most incredibly clean scent of perfumed soap and expensive shampoo. 
My stomach was doing barrel rolls. I knew it was as dangerous as hell, 
but it was like some outside force had taken me over, pushing me 
forward, inch by inch, almost compelling me to lean over her shoulder 
and look into that bag.
	I didn't have to wait long, because just as I moved forward for the 
last time, she began to turn on the stool, and suddenly the bag popped 
into view, not two feet away from me. Finally seeing that pack of B&H 
Menthol 100's sitting in Lani's purse has to rank in the top ten 
greatest rushes I have ever had. I could feel my blood pressure going 
off the scale, but Lani was already turning, turning toward me, and  I 
knew I had to look away.  I tore my eyes from the purse and shouted to 
the bartender.
	"Hey, man. Give me a Blue, will you?"
	"Well, Hello! What are you doing in here?" The voice was soft but 
confident, and very friendly, and coming from right beside me. I turned 
to face her, trying my best to look surprised.
	"Oh, Hi", I said. "Don't I know you from somewhere?" She flashed that 
killer smile.
	"I think so. My name is Lani. Lani Tan. Aren't you in my English 
class?"
	"Right, right", I said, nodding my head up and down like a total goof. 
"I haven't seen you in here much."
	"I know." She made a face and reached for the bag. "I haven't had a lot 
of social time here. My parents have this plan that I should study 
myself to death."
	"I hear you. Mine are the same way." I am very short of breath, and 
little sentences are about all I can manage. She has the pack her hand 
now, and I can see it's a fresh one, not even open yet. She gently turns 
it in her hand, softly tapping each end on the surface of the bar 
several times. Her fingers, which I have never noticed before, are long 
and beautiful and covered with rings, the nails even and perfectly 
manicured. I watch her carefully as she unzips the cellophane and peels 
back the foil. The gesture is one of absolute, complete femininity, and 
although obviously well practiced, it is totally subconscious. It is 
like I have stolen a completely private and intensely personal split 
second of Lani Tan's life, caught her in a simple, secret act that has 
now become an eternal pact between us.
	"I'm sorry. What's your name?" The 100 slides easily from the pack.
	"David. David Hayes."
	"Well, David Hayes, I can't seem to find my lighter." She holds the B&H 
easily, about a third of the way down, and moves it directly in front of 
her face, exquisite fingers curled gently in toward her palm. "You don't 
happen to have a light, do you?"
	The Zippo is out of my pocket in about a nanosecond, and even though it 
feels awkward as a greased baseball, it goes, miraculously, on the first 
try. Lani places the menthol carefully between her lips and gently pulls 
her mane of hair to the side as she leans forward to meet the flame. I 
watch her cheeks contract as she pulls softly, and the fire from the 
Zippo disappear into the end of the cigarette. Finally, she leans back 
on the stool, inhaling deeply as she goes, holds it, and then blows a 
long steady stream out into the crowded room. Almost immediately she 
takes another drag, and I see the tiniest of poppers as she pulls the 
smoke into her lungs. She closes her eyes and puts her head back.
	"God. That tastes so good. I haven't had one for hours. I can't believe 
how much you can want a cigarette sometimes, can you?" The B&H is 
already on it's way back to her mouth, when suddenly, Lani's eyes open 
wide. "My God, David. Look at your hand. You're shaking like a leaf." 
The Zippo goes back into my pocket like a flash.
	"Actually, I'm freezing" I say. "It's always so bloody cold in here." 
Lani smiles, but doesn't say anything. She just taps the B&H softly in 
the ashtray, turns, and blows another perfect, thin stream out over top 
of the crowd.
	Lani went on to get her MBA, and moved out to Vancouver, where she 
became the manager of a bank. We haven't spoken for years, and I often 
wonder about her, and whether or not she still has her exquisite habit.
	I do know one thing, though. Hong Kong isn't like North America. There, 
smoking is considered to be a social grace and is perfectly acceptable 
in all circles. It wouldn't surprise me a bit if Lani Tan is lighting 
one up right this minute. At 20 cigarettes a day for 19 years, she would 
have gone through almost 140,000 B&H Menthol 100's since that night in 
the Pub.
	And I can guarantee that she enjoyed every single one of them.
	I stayed at the bar for the rest of that night, and eventually, I got 
to know that the red headed girl was named Doris, and that Kit's father 
was a trucker who ran the States, and that's how she got the Marlboros, 
and that Lani's mother called her twice a day to make sure she was 
staying on top of her school work, and that they all agreed that their 
very best friend in the whole world was the tall blond girl who had more 
money, more brains and better looks than all of the rest of them put 
together. After spending a few hours in the pub with the girls, I had to 
agree.
	In fact the only bad thing any of us had to say at all about Brenda 
Lewis, was that the girl just simply refused to smoke...
***
	"David. Have you been listening to a single word I've said?" With the 
sudden impact of a meteor hitting the earth, I am back in the bed, back 
in my room. The telephone receiver is damp in my hand, and I know it's 
time to change positions, before my back starts to stiffen up. Bits and
pieces of the conversation are starting to drift back into my brain, and 
I stammer out a reply.
	"Of course I'm listening, Bren, although I'm not sure WHY you want to 
go to all this trouble. Besides.." I glance over at the night table. 
It's lighter in the room now, and the clock says 8:45.  "In less than 48 
hours I'm going to be on a plane for Mexico, and I ain't coming back. I 
have every intention of spending the rest of my life laying on the beach 
all day, and playing the piano in some little bar all night while the 
big breasted American tourist girls crowd around and blow smoke in my 
face. Or haven't you heard? I'm quite sure you and whatsiname can write 
your book without me."
	Right away, I feel like a total asshole. I know his name. It's Martin. 
Martin Firestone. DOCTOR Martin Firestone, if you want to know the 
truth, and I really don't have anything against him. I've never even met 
him. Suddenly, I've got to see her in the worst way.
	"Listen, Bren., I'm sorry.  My bladder is about to burst. Why don't you 
meet me at the Beacher, say in an hour, and I'll buy you some breakfast? 
We can talk more about it then."
	She never gets mad at me, even when I act like a total jerk, which I 
often do. As a matter of fact, I can almost hear her smiling on the 
other end of the line. "That's so sweet, David.  I can't think of a 
better way to start the day."

(To Be Continued)


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