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From the full version of Sunnyside's Lousy Book

Did I Count Fifteen Ciggy Butts, or was it Sixteen?

Throughout the years when it came to smoking cigarettes, I’ve been on and off those buggers from time to time. My love for coffee in the mornings and the cigarette that goes with it has always been the most difficult part of trying to quite.
       There was a time when I was surfing quite a bit and I still had my home over on Warner Street. I'd buy some coffee at the Seven Eleven on 56th street and walk across the alley to The Seventh House smoke shop to buy a smoke or two because The Seventh House sold single cigarettes. I got to know the girls who worked there pretty well and when there was a crack down on the selling of single cigarettes; I talked the girls into stashing my pack under their counter, so I'd be able to limit myself to only a few per day.
       While living in Parkland I often stopped by the Texaco gas station in the morning and buy a cup of coffee and often buy my smokes at the same time. I got to know the ladies pretty well over time and one of them just happened to have a surprisingly resemblance of my aunt Lucile on my father's side. They got to know my on and off again habits as well. I got to talking to the girls one day and told them how I'd wished I could just buy singles. I mentioned the deal I had going with the girls at the Seventh House in the past and they agreed to hold on to my smokes for me in a drawer as well. From day to day I'd take four or five I kept track of how many would be left each day to see of someone was helping themselves to my smokes.
       Then a peculiar thing happened one day. The guy who normally worked the night shift was working an afternoon shift and I felt a little embarrassed at him getting involved in my setup. He didn't just hand me the pack as usual so I could help myself. While holding the pack he asked, "How many do you want?"
       "Just give me the whole pack," I said, "I shouldn't be doing this." "I should just quit all together." He handed me the pack and the next thing I noticed was that there were more cigarettes in it than I expected. Although there should have only been 4 or 5 left, the pack seemed to have grown to 7 or 8 just by the feel of it. I didn't think I'd miss count like that. If anything I figured they would turn up short. I thought about it all the way out to the back lot in Puyallup where I painted septic tanks. The line Clint Eastwood used in a movie came to mind. I thought to myself, did I count fifteen ciggy butts or I count sixteen? Stupid Rule Number 26: You tell me and we'll both know.
       I thought maybe it was the tobacco companies involved. Maybe they wanted me to smoke because kids might think I was cool and might want to smoke too. Something was telling me that something was up and it wasn't right.
       Once got out of my truck at the back lot, I tore the top of the pack off and examined the cigarettes. Oddly enough the cigarettes at the opening of the pack had tobacco lighter in color than the ones in the back of the pack. Then I tore one of the dark tobacco cigarettes in half. The negativity of the whole experience overwhelmed me. An evil feeling hit me as I examined it and dropped it on the ground. Just so I wouldn’t goof up and smoke any of them, I tossed the pack into a paint bucket having some water in the bottom I was using as a garbage can.

It was a mistake telling John about the experience the next morning when he stopped by my shop; and I also mentioned it in my journal.
       I thought to myself, "Gee, I should have saved the cigarettes as proof of it happening instead of tossing them into the garbage bucket. Either they disappeared or maybe water in the bottom ruined them, I can't remember. One thing for sure, I knew I'd dropped one on the ground out at the back lot. Of course, by the time I got back out to the back lot the next day, the remains of the cigarette had disappeared. It had been the weekend, I’d been out there all alone with no other traffic. It confirmed to me that I was being watched every moment everywhere I went.

At first I presumed the extra dark ciggy butts must have been cigarettes with more nicotine in them to keep me hooked, but the presumption changed in a week or two. The night shift guy whom didn't just hand me the pack won $600,000 in the state lottery.

I won't jump to conclusions, but I'll let you decide. How come the night shift guy never told me about his monetary gains? I heard about it from the girls who worked the days shift. And if you would have had a half a million dollars fall in to your hands, would you even keep your job at a gas station for two or three weeks later? Maybe if you wanted to let everyone know about your big win.

The next chapter of Sunnyside's Lousy Book is:


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