The Smoke

Sitting alone at home rotting in front of the television. The country is plagued with taxes, plagued with fools and fiends and madmen and criminals and murderers. They are all loose; they are all scattered in this hell-hole we call home.

I switch the channels but they all show the same thing: protests. People out on the streets fully-clothed or in their underwear, protesting against the big tycoons carrying the big bucks.

They have torches in their hands, they have rotten fruits and vegetables in their hands and they have babies in their hands. They protest and scream and shout for equality, for truth, for justice.

But do any of them even know what those words mean? I’m not sure I do anymore.

I remember the times I used to shy away from the smoke. The countless times I pushed away tempting hands holding a cigarette close to my mouth. The times pretty women walked up to me and tried to persuade me to light one with them.

Those were the naive days when justice and truth and honesty seemed to matter. Now, the sky is looking mighty grim and I realize those things really don’t so much. It is a waste – it has always been a waste – to fight for something here. Or anywhere. There has never truly been any kind of peace anywhere, has there? Man has invented that concept as a form of propaganda, to attract other flocks of men toward greater things. But do they really believe in it? I doubt it.

Look around you. I look around me, I flip the channels on my set and I don’t see peace anywhere around the globe. I see riots, slaughter, rape and murder invading my screen. I see underhanded deals designed to keep the rich booming and prospering and the poor declining even further.

The lowly will stay lowly and the powerful will not cease to ascend. And until they reach the sky there will be no end to their madness, their thirst for power and money and glory, their cruelty toward the hungry sheep they’ve never fed.

Well, it’s all useless now. I guess we’re all stuck in the same pit, in the same gutter. There are those who believe in the fight and those who believe it is over. Right now I stand with the latter.

I sit here in my reclining chair in front of my tv set with a smoke in my hand. I take a whiff of the tip of my cigarette and feel the burn in my mouth. My lips flare up and so do my insides.

Next to me is the glass of Jim Beam. I remember there was a time when I resisted that as well. I used to refuse it, to refuse it upon myself to take up such a dirty act as drinking. But now the drink’s my best friend and I regret all the times I declined it from the hands of a kind stranger. All the times I could’ve been drinking more. All the times I could’ve been smoking more.

That’s all there is to it: these things hinder you but eventually become a part of you like a nasty parasite. And those in power see it, they see you’ve become a host to some crazy vile bloodsucking bug and so they encourage you. They encourage you and invite you to go deeper into the madness, the foggy darkness, the smoke. They don’t lift that burden off you because it’s the only kind that will keep you from moving forward.

Well guess what?  Today I’m the biggest asshole on this planet. Today I am the biggest drinker and smoker and drug-addict in this country. And I’ve got the right amount of whiskey bottles and smoke clouds in my living room to prove it.

Tonight the sky will remain grey. Tonight there will be no distinguishing night from day. When my smokes are out and my ashtrays are full then I might just call it in and go to bed. Crawl under my sheets and ruminate some or write a sickening poem attacking the corporates, the politicians, the church heads.

And so here I go, disappearing behind the grey smoke, my face fading from life and all its bad habits and its people and its madness.

Goodnight, goodnight, signed: the biggest asshole on the planet.

***

Be sure to check out my debut novel, A Road Away From Home, now available on Amazon and in paperback.

A Road Away From Home – Hanna Abi Akl

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