Quest For Zach, Part 5

(by Gray Haze, 28 December 2007)


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Quest for Zach
By Gray Haze

Part 5

Mike and I greeted our parents as they exited the concourse at the airport.
After a short hug, both of them were eager to get outside for a cigarette.  I
guess they missed not being able to smoke on the plane.  Why else would they
be in such a rush to smoke?

We got home at about ten that night.  My parents were exhausted and went
right to bed.  That was a good thing, because I wanted a cigarette.  I
decided to just smoke in my room.  With all the smoke that mom and dad spread
throughout the house, who could tell the difference?  Two hours and six
cigarettes later, I went to bed.

I got up in the next morning and immediately reached for my cigarettes.  Then
I realized that I wouldn't be able to smoke until later.  No big deal I
thought as I went downstairs for breakfast.  

I immediately smelled the smoke of a freshly burning cigarette as I went
downstairs.  Sure enough, mom was in the kitchen, drinking coffee and
smoking.  I poured myself a bowl of cereal and sat down at the table.  I ate
while mom chained into another cigarette.  The sight of mom smoking made me
want one real bad.  That tightness in my chest that I often feel in the
morning was as strong as ever.  

Mom then asked me if I wanted to go to grandmas after breakfast.  I really
didn't want to, but mom insisted, so I agreed.  I would have preferred to go
to my favorite little spot in the woods so that I could smoke, but I decided
that I'm going to have to get used to again not being able to smoke when I
want to.

Grandma lives a couple of towns away and it took about a half hour to get
there.  We stayed until after lunch.  I was starting to feel terrible.  All I
could think about was smoking.  My lungs were crying out for some smoke.  I
was also starting to feel a little light headed and sick.  I had trouble
concentrating when I was spoken too, and I'm sure that I was quite bitchy as
well.  

Thankfully we finally left.  I figured we were going home, but then mom
pulled into my aunt's house in the same town as grandma.  By now I was
downright desperate for a cigarette.  I would kill for just one puff.  To
make matters worse, both mom and her sister smoke constantly.  Sitting there
watching them smoke up a storm made me feel even worse.

Finally, at about 5PM we left.  The anticipation of going home and smoking
was now all I could think about.

"Say Terry, let's stop and get something to eat," mom said as she pulled into
a restaurant.  Damn, that meant a few more hours until I can smoke.  Once
inside, we were seated in the smoking section.  Mom lit up right after we sat
down.  Seeing mom inhale the smoke from my beloved B&H almost broke me.  It
took every bit of will power not to fess up about my new habit.

I just didn't understand why I felt so bad.  Was it something about smoking
that causes me to feel this way?  So I decided to see if I could find out
about it from mom.

"Mom, do you mind if I ask you something? 

"Sure honey," she answered as she lifted the cigarette up to take another
puff.

"If smoking is so bad for you, why don't you quit?" I said, hoping that the
public setting would prevent her from raising her voice at me.

"Oh, what's this, another anti-smoking lecture?" she answered in a smug
manner.
 
"No, I guess I'm just interested in knowing why so many people smoke given
the risk involved."

Mom didn't say anything at first.  She just took another puff off of her
cigarette while she thought about what to say.  "Well Terry, I guess I
probably should quit.  But you need to understand that it is real hard.
First off, I really love my cigarettes, and a part of me would miss them
terribly.  But I think even if I wanted to, I probably couldn't quit anyway."

"Why is that?" I asked even though I now thought I knew the answer.

"Well Terry, smoking is very addicting.  There is a substance called nicotine
in cigarette smoke that your body becomes dependent on.  That is why I need
to always smoke all day, every day.  If I don't, I start feeling real lousy
quickly."  Mom took another puff off of her cigarette then continued through
a talking exhale.  "My body likes to have a certain level of nicotine in it.
But it dissipates rather quickly, and then it tells me it wants more."

"How does your body do that?" I asked.   

"My Terry, aren't we full of questions?" Mom asked with a short laugh.  "It's
kind of hard to explain to someone who never has smoked before.  But I guess
I start feeling a little tight in the chest.  It a little gentle signal that
my brain sends to me to tell me that it's time for another cigarette."

"So what do you do then?"

"I light up a cigarette, silly," mom said, smiling.

"OK, that makes sense," I said kind of embarrassed at that question.  "I
guess your body must send a lot of signals out.  You sure smoke a lot."

"Yeah it does, honey.  I guess that is kind of my fault.  When I first
started smoking, I didn't think too much about the consequences.  I just
smoked for the pleasure.  But I found that the more I smoked, the more I
enjoyed it.  Next thing I knew, I was smoking three packs a day.  Now my body
won't let me smoke less."

"Gosh mom, I'm sorry to hear that.  I never knew about this, otherwise I
wouldn't have been on your case about quitting all these years.  So I guess
you are saying is that you smoke now only because you can't quit."

"Well, not really Terry.  I smoke because I enjoy smoking.  Even after all
these years, I still love my cigarettes."

"So you are glad that you started?" I asked, wondering what her answer might
be.

"Well, gee Terry, I don't want to seem to be encouraging you to start
smoking."  Mom then paused to take one last puff on her cigarette, she then
continued while she put it out in the ashtray.  "But I have always felt that
it is important to be honest with you.  So I guess the answer would be yes.
Overall, smoking has greatly added to my enjoyment of life."

The waiter then came to take our order.  I wasn't going to say anything more
about this subject.  I got all the answers I needed.  But mom had more to
say.

"Terry, someday you are probably going to try smoking.  Maybe you won't, but
most people do.  Just keep what I told you in mind about how addicting it is.
Once you start, you may never be able to quit.  It really is a lifetime
commitment.  The same can be said about drugs as well.  Cigarettes will
shorten your life, but drugs will destroy it.  So I beg you, never, ever do
drugs."

We finally arrived home at about seven.  Once there, I did a beeline straight
to my room to get my cigarettes.  Five short minutes later, I was at my
favorite secluded spot.  My hands were literally shaking as I lit my first
cigarette of this very long day.  Never has a cigarette tasted as good as
that one did.  Now I knew why.  

I smoked eight cigarettes during those two hours in the woods.  My body
rewarded me for my work.  I felt incredible the whole time I was there.  It
also gave me a lot of time to think about what mom said.  Smoking is a life
long commitment.  For better or for worse, I have made that commitment.  But
also hearing mom say that she is glad that she started made me feel good
about my decision.  I thought it was funny how she said that she didn't want
to encourage me and then said how great smoking was.  I also wondered about
whether my mom would be all that mad about my smoking.  She probably wouldn't
be if I were older.  So maybe someday soon, we will be smoking buddies.  I
look forward to that day.

Things got back to normal during that first week in August.  I was back to
smoking my 15 to 20 cigarettes a day.  At first I felt deprived, but soon my
body adjusted itself to the lower dose of nicotine.  Fortunately, I didn't
become too hooked on the 30 plus cigarettes a day that I smoked during the
two weeks that my parents were gone.  

I was smoking pretty much every chance I had.  I was worried a little about
how I was going to pay for my new habit.  Grandma did give me $100 so that I
could buy myself something special.  I doubt that she had cigarettes in mind
when she gave it to me, but that will buy a four or five cartons.  So maybe
that will tie me over until I can get some babysitting work.  

I was also starting to get a little sloppy in concealing my smoking.  I was
smoking more in my room now.  Sometimes I would smoke there even when mom and
dad were awake.  I guess that is what nicotine addiction will do to you.  It
forces you to take all sorts of chances that you shouldn't.  

It finally happened about ten days after mom and I had our little smoking
chat.  I woke up that Wednesday morning and headed down to the kitchen for my
morning cigarettes.  Mom and dad were at work as usual so today was like any
summer vacation day.  I can smoke until four without having to worry about
getting caught.

At 11am I sat down to watch my favorite daytime program, "The Price is
Right."  I love Bob Barker, especially while I am smoking.  Forty five
minutes into the program, I lit my third cigarette since sitting down.
Suddenly out of nowhere, mom appeared.  She had left work early to go to a 1
pm doctor's appointment.  She decided to stop at home to eat lunch first.

Mom stood there in stunned silence as I released a huge plume of smoke into
the living room air.  At first I didn't even see her come in.  She just stood
there while I took another puff.  Finally, as I was drawing on my cigarette,
I saw her.  I wasn't sure what to do, so I removed the cigarette and inhaled
as usual.  I was so busted.

"Terry, what are you, no, I guess it is obvious what you are doing.  My God
Terry, you are only twelve.  When did this start?"

I was too stunned to say anything.  I just sat there looking at the floor
trying to hold back tears.

Mom started to yell at me.  I'm not even sure what she was saying.  Finally,
I just broke out in tears and headed for my room.  I fully expected her to
come upstairs to my room to continue her loud conversation, but she didn't.
An hour later she left for her doctor's appointment.  

Now I was in dire need of a cigarette, so I went downstairs to the living
room to get my open pack, but it was gone when I got there.  Mom must have
confiscated them.  Fortunately, I had plenty more, so I opened another one
up, and then proceeded to spend the next four hours chain smoking.  I was
trying desperately to relieve my frazzled nerves.  And you know something, it
worked.  Smoking really does have a calming effect on me.

Mom came home at her usual time.  I thought that she would then come up and
yell at me again, but she didn't.  I avoided her as much as I could.  She
didn't say anything at dinner, but I could tell that she was mad.  She really
had that pissed off look.  I then spent the rest of the evening in my room.
I watched the clock a lot waiting for them to go to bed so I could sneak a
smoke or two.  I hate going so long without smoking.  My cravings start to
get real bad.  

At ten, I heard a knock at the door, and then mom came in.  She had her ever
present pack of cigarettes in her hand.  She then sat down next to me on my
bed.

"Honey, I'm sorry I was so hard on you today.  I guess I was just so shocked
to see you smoking.  I mean after all these years of you hounding me about
the evils of smoking, I just never thought that you would start."

I didn't say anything.  In fact, I didn't even look at her.  I was too
embarrassed.

"So I guess that is why you asked me all those questions about smoking.  I
sure hope I didn't encourage you to start."

"No mom, I have been smoking for a while now."

"So what were all the questions about then?"

"I wanted to find out why I felt so miserable anytime I couldn't smoke," I
answered hoping that the "I'm too hooked to quit" line would convince her
that I now needed to smoke.  "At the time, I hadn't had a cigarette all day,
and I was absolutely dying."

Mom was clearly shaken about what I had just said.  Being a heavy smoker
herself, she knew exactly what I was talking about.  "Gosh Terry, I wish that
you were older.  I probably wouldn't have such a problem with you smoking."

"Mom, I'll be 13 in two days," I said, although I knew that was way too
young.  "How old were you when you started?"

"Ah, well, I was, ok, I was 13," mom finally answered.  We sat there for what
seemed like forever.  I guess mom was trying to think of what to say next.
Finally she broke the silence with some surprising words.  "You know honey,
do you have an ashtray in here?  I'm dying for a cigarette.  I suppose you
don't mind any more that I smoke in your room."

"No, of course not, mom," I answered.  I then got up and a got my little
plastic ashtray that I hide in my desk drawer, while mom lit up a cigarette.  

"Oh here, these are yours," she said moving the pack toward me.  "Well, at
least you have good taste in the brand that you smoke."

A sly smile emerged on mom's face as I accepted the pack.  I didn't quite
know what to do next.  Should I light one up?  I sure wanted one.  

"So how do you feel now?" mom asked as she started laughing.

"Like having a cigarette," I said while laughing myself.

"Allow me," she said as she clicked her lighter.  

I quickly pulled a cigarette out and placed it between my lips. Then I tilted
my head toward the flame and drew hard on the cigarette.  I took a deep
inhale, then for some reason, I drew hard on the cigarette again, while I
breathed the first puff out my nose.

"Well I guess you did," mom said while watching me relieve my huge craving. 

"So does this mean you are ok with me smoking?"

"Yeah, I guess so," she said still smiling.  "But by the looks of you smoking
that cigarette, there is probably not much I could do about it anyway.  But
for now, let's keep this our little secret.  I'm not sure how your father is
going to take you smoking."

That was music to my ears.  

"So tell me Terry, why did you start smoking?" mom asked.  "Of all the
people, I figured that you to be the last one to start."

Two hours and eight cigarettes later I had told her my story.  She even told
me her start smoking story.  During that time I lit up every time she did.
At her three packs a day level, that meant about once every fifteen minutes.
I don't know why I did.  I guess it is the bonding experience between two
smokers.  

After we both lit up our last cigarette together, mom said something that
made me feel real good.  "I hope you enjoy smoking as much as I do."  She
then started to giggle.  "By the way you have been smoking with me, it looks
like you do."

I guess that was her way of saying that she isn't all that displeased about
my smoking after all.  After that night, mom and I became real close.  Before
we never shared anything in common, now we do.

The next day I didn't know what to expect.  Both mom and dad worked as usual,
which meant that I smoked as always during the day.  If anything, I smoked
more than normal.  I felt liberated for the first time about being a smoker.
There was no need to limit myself anymore.

After dinner dad went bowling like he does every Thursday night.  At eight, I
joined mom in the living room to watch TV.  "So, where are your cigarettes?"
she asked just after I sat down.  "Don't worry, your father won't be home
until late."

For the rest of the evening, mom and I shared our love for smoking while we
watched our favorite TV shows.  I didn't even try to keep up with her though.
She smokes way too much for me.  But I did smoke a lot.  So by the time I
went to bed, I smoked my 30th of the day.  It was just like when I smoked
during my two week experiment.

My 13th birthday finally arrived the next day.  Believe it or not, I still
get excited about birthdays.  I know, I'm not a little kid anymore.  But that
is the one day I have always felt special.  We usually have a small
celebration with my favorite meal, cake, and presents.  My maternal
grandparents always come as well.  They have always got me great gifts.  

Grandpa and grandma showed up at six.  We ate soon afterward.  Even Mike
stuck around.  I guess his girlfriend must have had something else planned.
After cake, mom brought out the presents.  This is my favorite part.  She
placed them on the dining room table, then handed me my first one.  It was a
light, rectangular package.  I had no clue what it could possibly be.  My jaw
absolutely dropped after I tore off the wrapping paper.  It was 2 cartons of
my favorite cigarettes, Benson & Hedges 100's.  

I looked around stunned, wondering if my grandparents were as surprised as I
was.  But instead they had a big smile on their faces just like everyone
else.  Finally, I got up, went over to daddy and gave him a big hug as tears
started flowing down my cheeks.  "Thank you, daddy," I said.  "This is the
best present ever."

"Terry, it's amazing how much you are like your mother," grandma said
smiling.  "I couldn't keep her away from those damn things either."

Everyone had a good laugh after that comment.  But that was just the
beginning as far as presents went.  I also got some nice clothes, a new video
game, and a big crystal ashtray for my room.  Mom told me that cheesy little
plastic one just wasn't big enough.

Finally came the big part, lighting up my first cigarette along with my
family.  I never felt more special in all my life.  This was truly the best
birthday ever.


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