Smokes

Art by Rob Goldstein

SmokesA concrete picnic enclosure on Venice Beach; abandoned except for a weathered old man on a picnic table rolling cigarettes.

A faded tattoo of a sword wrapped in a ribbon on his forearm, the words on the ribbon merge together in blue curlicues, like the blue veins that criss-cross his swollen nose.

He says his name is Eddie.

Eddie has selectively gathered cigarette butts since dawn.

He has searched in and around the enclosure and is now ready to roll a few butts for the day.

Boys on skateboards zip through.

A photographer wanders in and snaps a picture of Eddie as he teases tobacco into a rusty can.

Eddie flicks away the yellow filters.

Pigeons scurry over to peck them.

He rolls two thin cigarettes and lays them out to dry; I offer him one of mine, and he gently declines, “I have enough” he says.

“What…

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