Reflections, Part 1

(by somers, 01 May 2004)

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By Somers


She felt as if she'd been driving for hours already. She spied a mini-mart 
and pulled in to get some coffee in order to avoid becoming drowsy after she 
got up on the turnpike. She paused to contemplate a donut in the case. Then 
she changed her mind and got an extra pack of cigarettes instead.

"Four packs of Marlboro red 100's, please."

She trotted carefully out of the place with her steaming coffee, and her 
stash of cigarettes. She knew that she could get them cheaper in many 
places, and considered this robbery, but she was completely out, and had no 
time to go to her usual sources of supply. She lowered herself carefully 
into the car, tossed the cigarette packs on the seat next to her, stirred 
her coffee, and re-read her notes in preparation for the meeting with the 
customer. She wore an attractive red business suit, diamond earrings, with a 
white blouse and a pair of black, shear stockings. She felt it was the right 
way to look in front of this customer. Neat and trim, and businesslike, but 
on the other hand quite feminine with the skirt and stockings and some 
expensive earrings. Pants were a bit too much, she thought, especially in 
red. After all, a woman should not look like a clown, but as something to be 
considered seriously.

She opened the pack of Marlboros, rapping it against her fingers to dislodge 
one. She placed it in her lips, then picked up the lighter from the seat 
next to, flicked the flame, and turned to stare into it while she lit the 
cigarette. She huffed the rich smoke into her lungs, withdrawing the 
cigarette from her lips and her mind began thinking about a time long ago, 
as she breathed it out slowly.


"Janice, don't do that!"

Her mother scolded her as her slightly chubby little daughter rode inside 
the cart in the supermarket and reached out to finger the pretty pink bottle 
of hand lotion.

"You don't want to make Mommy bend down and pick it up, do you?" Her Mom 
readjusted the bottle on the shelf with her long red nails from it's 
precarious position, readjusting her halter top beneath her jean jacket 
during the process, then moved the shopping cart on down the aisle.

"I'm sorry, Mommy," the little girl looked contrite, yet had a naughty gleam 
in her eye.

"After all, if you're a good little girl, then I'll get you a reward when we 
get done," Her Mom said, rapidly throwing some ground meat into the cart 
between Janice's legs, then hurrying on throughout the store. She was a bit 
too big to be riding in the shopping cart, and filled most of the interior 
space, but her mother felt that she could get this job done much quicker 
without Janice's distractions. She found that they were minimized while she 
was confined in the cart.

"I'll be good," Janice answered her back, looking up with big, blue eyes at 
her Mom's face. Andrea was a really gorgeous woman: her smooth, sandy blonde 
hair extending over her shoulders in a graceful waterfall of slippery 
delight. Her face was a study in beauty, demonstrating perfectly smooth 
tones of beige color, beneath eyes that were set amidst deeper shading. She 
was a well-endowed woman, and seemed to know how to use that enhanced gift. 
She made the perfect picture, and Janice loved to watch her Mom while she 
scanned the shelves of the aisle with her eyes almost hidden from view 
behind those dark lashes. It was important to get food really fast, because 
her Mom seemed in such a rush. Janice was a smart girl, and saw that her Mom 
wouldn't tolerate much playing around today. Probably to get back home 
before the ground meat melted or something horrible like that; she moved the 
package away from her, so she couldn't be blamed for spoiling the meat.

They started down the aisle with the soda on one side and the candy on the 
other side. Janice couldn't help but to stare at the big, giant packages of 
Hershey's miniatures and Nestle's crunch bars and creamy Mound's bars. She 
could smell the mouth watering chocolate, and knew that she wanted some. Her 
Mom was getting some soda and moved the cart to the candy side of the aisle 
to let an old lady with thick glasses pass by, while she scanned the 
shelves, leaving Janice within reach of the sweet confections. As she 
stooped over to take some bottles off of the lower shelf, Janice saw her 
wiggle to readjust that pesky halter top, and Janice furtively glanced up 
and down the aisle. She quickly looked back at her Mom, then at the woman, 
who was busy inspecting a package just inches from her face, and then she 
grabbed three giant Snicker's bars off of the shelf and popped them within 
the hand-warmer on her pink sweatshirt. Janice then quickly turned her 
attention away from the crime scene, to the ground meat, and started poking 
it while shaking her head and whisking her pony tail back and forth in 
apparent craziness. It was a mixture of emotions ranging from self-hatred to 
jubilation, a cacophony of feelings which brought on the acts of thrashing 
that pony tail against her face while poking at the forbidden meat.

"Don't do that!" her Mom scolded again, coughing while plunking the soda 
bottles down inside the cart next to her, her rather generous chest resting 
on the handle of the cart and simultaneously taking care of the halter top 
readjustment. She reached out with her long nails and touched the little 
girl's head and gently grasped her arm, then taking her halter top back out 
of adjustment again as the elements of her chest threatened to slide into 
the shopping cart.

"Remember what I told you? Good girls get their reward, and bad girls get 
none?" Her Mom looked at her sternly and spoke while completing the 
coughing. Janice watched her chest heave, then put her hands inside of her 
sweatshirt. She looked again contrite, while fingering the big, fat, juicy 
chocolate bars inside. Her mental energy was spent in the naughty thoughts 
of enjoying the feelings of sweetness during the rest of their journey 
throughout the store.

At the checkout counter, she had to climb out and she stood by Andrea as the 
woman banged the groceries on the belt, pausing to readjust her halter top 
frequently. Janice didn't want to seem terribly anxious, and she did have 
her clandestinely acquired treats for later, but she remembered what her Mom 
had said about buying her something when they were done. She tugged at her 
Mom's skirt and grabbed a pack of Whoppers off the shelf. She asked her in a 
syrupy, sweet voice if she could have them.

Her Mom scowled at her, and then her beautiful darkened eyes softened and 
she said: "All right, you were pretty good today, but you have to stop 
eating that stuff. Just look at how fat you're getting." she poked her 
little tummy, nearly exposing her big stash of snickers bars, then snatched 
the pack of Whoppers up and plopped them on the belt. She glared at the 
woman in front of them who was very slowly gathering up all her stuff to 
leave. People always took so long. Finally she got the cashier's attention 
and announced:

"I need a carton of Marlboro 100's, please. And let me know if everything 
plus the cigarettes goes over $100."

Janice knew that her Mom could only spend so much, or else they couldn't go 
to the liquor store today.  She didn't especially like it when they couldn't 
go there, because her Mom would get into a foul mood. She stared at the 
checkout girl carefully, while her hands were in the hand-warmer fingering 
those snickers bars. She would have gladly sacrificed her Whoppers if it 
would make Mommy be able to go to the liquor store. Especially because she 
already had her succulent treats tucked inside her sweatshirt. But, more 
rewards were better, of course. She smiled as the small girl, whom she 
thought was wearing too much eye makeup, finished the checkout process. She 
seemed preoccupied, and Janice hoped she had remembered to announce the 
total of the order. She saw her waiting impatiently for someone to fetch the 
cigarettes, and saying to the girl at the next counter:

"Isn't Cindy back yet? It's almost 3:30 and I haven't had break yet."

The other girl said something, but the carton of cigarettes was deposited on 
the counter and the short checkout girl grabbed them, punched up the amount 
and flopped them into a bag. Although she was quite efficient at what she 
did, Janice wondered if she ever smiled, and thought that there must be 
people who never did. The small girl then proclaimed in a bored voice that 
the total was $85.40 and impatiently waited while her Mom wrote a check, 
glancing at her watch. Janice supervised the loading of the bags into the 
cart. Then she reached up and began wheeling it off to the door. Her Mom 
coughed loudly, and declared:

"Janice! Now, be careful of people!" She nervously dug into her purse as 
they exited the door. Mommy always needed to light a cigarette once they 
were outside, and so the little girl paused for a moment and watched. Her 
Mom flicked the flame up to the long, white cigarette, cupped her hand 
around it, and made it glow in the slightly breezy air. Her bright red nails 
moved in slow, catlike movements. She took a strong pull on the Marlboro and 
drew the smoke deeply into her lungs. Then she smiled, and Janice was sure 
that the shopping bill had made her happy, and that they could go to the 
liquor store.


She put the cigarette in her lips, yanked out the ticket for the turnpike, 
being careful of her long, red nails in the process, and sped off, watching 
in her rearview mirror so as not to run into anyone as she crossed lanes and 
headed eastbound. Her ponytail swung from left to right in opposite rhythm 
to the turning of her head. She pulled on the cigarette in her lips the 
entire time, then saw how short it was becoming and tossed it out of the 
window while opening and closing it like a disposal unit as she inhaled the 
smoke deeply into her lungs.

As she breathed out in the midst of a big, smoky cloud, she tried to change 
what was going through her mind, and get it onto what lay ahead of her. She 
went through all the details of her presentation carefully, because she 
didn't want to offend this customer. He would be paying top dollar because 
she was supposed to be the best, and that meant looking and acting the best 
in her mind. She imagined being in his office, and tried to envision the 
exact scenario which would take place.

"Mr. Johnson, I've compiled some figures that I think you would be 
interested in," she said out loud, while adjusting the jacket of her 
business suit. No, that wasn't quite right. She took another sip of her 
coffee, watching out very carefully not to spill it upon her white frilly 
blouse. That would be a disaster.

"Mr. Johnson, I have something which may interest you. These figures I've 
compiled…" No that wasn't it either. She pushed the glasses further up on 
the bridge of her nose and took another cigarette out of the pack, put in 
her lips and turned it to brilliance with a motion of her thumb. Then she 
sucked on it while dropping the lighter back in the seat beside her, on top 
of the papers.

"Mr. Johnson, I believe I've got something. Would you be interested in 
looking at this figure?" She watched as a passing tractor trailer went by 
her in the left lane, partially obscured by her smoky breath.


"Andrea!" An older, red-haired woman clad in a short skirt and fishnet 
stockings, topped off with a red leather jacket waved at them as she crossed 
the parking lot, proceeding at the pace that she could manage in her heels. 
Janice recognized her as Patti, from her Mom's work at the hair salon. She 
watched her take a drag on her half-finished cigarette, an unfiltered Pall 
Mall, pulling deeply with her generous lips, and plucking the cigarette 
firmly from them with fingers adorned with long, wetly-colored, blazing red 
nails. She flicked the ash casually off to one side as a nice man stopped 
his big, shiny truck to let her pass by. Janice stood by her Mom and held 
the cart back as they waited outside the sliding glass doors.  Patti waved 
and smiled at the man as she exhaled a white plume of smoke into the air, 
paused to remove a bit of tobacco from the tongue, and he waved and smiled 
back. He slowly rolled the truck past, still smiling and looking at her as 
they heard his big engine throbbing.

"I need to try one of them sometime; I think I would really like the ride," 
the newly arrived woman stated, giggling with a deep throated sound, almost 
cackling. She tried to imagine Patti driving a big truck and it seemed a bit 
incongruous. She stared up at her Mom as Andrea blew out a laughing puff of 
smoke, gently exhaling it upward into the fresh air. Patti always seemed to 
make her Mom very happy, so Janice smiled too.

"I'm glad that I caught you. I was going to call you later. Are you busy 
tonight? I've got a pair of guys and it's only me to do them, and both of 
them need the works. And they are willing to pay the full amount," Patti 
stated, then sucked on her cigarette mercilessly, closing her eyes 
temporarily and pulling in her cheeks. Janice noted that the poor cigarette 
had now been burned nearly to ˝ of its original length as Patti gracefully 
tapped the ashes onto the sidewalk and the breeze soon took them away. She 
tossed her brilliant red hair back off of her shoulder, preparing an exit 
for the big puffy cloud of smoke, which came soon afterwards, circling off 
into space in a pure mist.

"Sure! I'd love to!" Janice noticed her Mom's face brighten up 
substantially, because obviously this meant that she'd get paid for doing 
these guys' hair, and money was a thing that she always needed. She looked 
up at her Mom's face as it became one with her cigarette and watched the 
glow as it increased. Then she saw the trail of smoke in her mouth for an 
instant before it vanished as she drew it fully into her lungs and 
thoroughly filled the confines of the halter-top.

"Well, if this one here is willing to go with a baby sitter tonight," her 
Mom looked down at Janice with the same syrupy sweetness that Janice had 
exhibited just moments before. Then she smiled and tossed her hair back away 
from her face, casting her smoky breath away from the girl in billowing 
sheets, which were taken by the wind to a place far, far away. She coughed 
softly. Noticing some guy in a car whom she must have known from the shop, 
she waved a few fingers, displaying her long, curved, red nails.

Janice realized that now was the time to bargain, since her Mom needed a 
reply from her. In an instant, she was prepared for the event, and began 
asking her which baby sitter she would get, hoping that Patti would offer 
her sister, Sharon. Sharon was really good to her, and she knew she'd be 
able to stay up late at night and play games and watch tons of Disney video 
tapes while Sharon fed her cookies and ice cream. As long as Janice was a 
good little girl, and helped clean up everything, she might enjoy multiple 
rewards that night.

"Well, that's the problem. I knew you needed a baby sitter, but Sharon has 
to go over to her friend's house tonight, so I hoped you would be able to 
find someone," Patti said, and then took a small puff on her short 
cigarette, and a deep breath. She then exhaled, and flicked the ashes off to 
one side. Janice saw her Mom inspect the tip of hers and then tap it off 
with certain elegance as she thought about the baby sitter situation.

"Well, maybe I can get Mrs. Edmonton. She's usually available," Andrea said, 
looking at Janice out of the corner of her eye.

Janice hung her head glumly. Mrs. Edmonton was a nice lady, but as far as 
playing games and getting silly with her long into the night, she might as 
well forget it. And bedtime was the time it always was on every other night. 
Well, at least she had the snicker's bars for later.

The women then started talking in hushed tones, leaning and almost 
whispering to each other while Patti finished up her cigarette, bringing 
that last drag burning dangerously close to her lips while she stared at the 
simmering tip. Janice waited patiently, watching the two of them chatting 
while Patti stepped on the cigarette and put it out on the sidewalk, then 
blew out the final puff of smoke into the air dramatically. She coughed 
several times afterward, raising her hand in order to be polite. Her Mom 
listened to Patti with interest, staring at the people going in and out of 
the sliding glass doors, yet not seeing them while she slowly put the object 
in her lips and pulled her cheeks inward. She nodded as she took the burning 
cigarette out of her lips, and a small cloud escaped, which she succeeded in 
breathing inward during her inhale. She smiled with near-wickedness at 
something Patti had said, then tilted her head towards the sky and released 
her smoke upward, forming her lips into a perfect O.


Enough drifting thought! Jeez, she'd be there before she had her notes 
properly assimilated. She carefully took another sip of coffee, watching out 
for the beautiful business suit, because she had just bought it, and 
couldn't get anything on it the first time out. Then, she looked up at the 
highway in front of her, and took another long drag on her cigarette, trying 
to figure out this guy Johnson. She inhaled deeply and glanced at the papers 
in the seat next to her. It was important for a woman, when making a 
presentation to a man, to make him feel that he always had complete control 
over the situation. Of course, it was important to never let him get that 
control, not 100%, anyway. This was one thing that her mother had taught 
her, she thought, smiling at her memory, but it had served her well in her 
business career. She let the exhale escape from her chest slowly. So let him 
react to the figure, and then perhaps she should adopt a somewhat more 
submissive posture. She imagined a pot of coffee in the executive office.

"Can I get you some coffee, Mr. Johnson?" No, not quite right.

"Can I have some coffee and get you some, Mr. Johnson?" Hmm, still not 

Perhaps she'd retreat to the doorway if coffee wasn't there in the office, 
or to the credenza if it was there, and say:

"Oh, coffee! Mr. Johnson, would you like some?" Yes, something more like 
that, she thought as she took a firm drag on her cigarette, let the smoke 
out slowly, then glanced at the tip, almost burned down to the filter by 
now, casually opening the window and tossing it out while breathing the 
smoke out of her lungs. She tasted the power of her previous drag, and 
smiled as she drove on, closing the window again and automatically reaching 
for another cigarette while staring at the roadway ahead. Her eyes turned 
their focus to the burning tobacco as she made another flame in front of her 
face, then back to the road as she pulled on the cigarette hungrily.


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