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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Health · #1157001
Charley's bad habit might just kill him.

Joe’s Job

Here he comes; searching for me. How many times did he hit the snooze alarm this morning? Five times before he began his morning ritual, coughing and spitting, mumbling words only he understood. One of these mornings he won’t get up and come looking for me.

“Come on, Marie, we overslept again, get out of bed.”

“What? What time is it?” Marie replied, as she sat up inching her toes across the carpet, feeling for her bunny slippers.

What’s a grown woman doing wearing slippers with huge rabbit ears attached, flopping with each step? It’s enough to make even me puke after all I have seen. I’ve seen the evil, the death and things beyond. I was there; at Omaha Beach, Chicago in the 20’s, Viet Nam, all the places where most men would buckle or turn on a friend.

“Honey…hey, Marie, where did you put the smokes?” Charlie called from the living room. “Forget it, I found em’, get a move on, Marie, ya already been late twice this week.”

Look who’s talking, Charlie. You have gotten your share of warnings from the boss, down at the mill. You’re skating on thin ice, Charlie. Your health is going down hill like a bobsled in January. You are barely holding on, doing your job, just like I’m doing mine.

“Light me up one of them, Hon, I gotta fix your lunch before we leave. You want bologna again?”

“Sure do sweetheart, I never get tired of your bologna sandwiches.” Charlie answered, puffing on his second cigarette.

Oh, Charlie, what am I going to do with you? Five days a week she sends you on your way with two bologna sandwiches. Where are the fruit and vegetables? Wake up mister, you should take care of yourself.

“Can’t you go any faster, Charlie?” Marie whined while he maneuvered the old pick-up through the morning traffic.

“Can’t go any faster then the man in front of me, Marie.” Charlie barked, while lighting up his seventh smoke. “Ya did throw a couple extra packs in the lunch pail, didn’t ya, Marie?”

“Sure did.” Marie answered, vacantly staring through the windshield.

You are a good wife, Marie, always looking out for your husband’s needs. What would he do without you? He needs you and he needs me. Together, we will take care of old Charlie.

“Drop me off here; I can walk the rest of the way. You best be on your way or we’ll both be late.” Marie ordered, as she leaned across the seat and gave her husband a good-bye kiss on his cheek.

“Ya be at the corner; just like always. I won’t be much past 6 o’clock gettin’ here.” Charlie said out of habit as he wormed his way back into traffic, reaching for his lighter.

Maybe you should have told her you loved her, Charlie. Are you real sure you will be at the corner this evening? I’m going to be with you all day, Charlie. I will be right here, in your shirt pocket; handy, easy to get too.

Charlie calls me ‘his smokes’. I have several names. I am the cigarette, known as Joe Camel. I have earned many names; cancer stick, fag, and my favorite; coffin nail. Like Charlie, I also have my job. My job consists of getting you to want me a little at first; later you need me like a man needs a woman. In time, I have you hooked. You belong to me. I am evil because I cause lung cancer, heart disease and emphysema, just to name a few of my deadly tasks.

That’s it, Charlie, light me up. I want my smoke to curl down your throat seeking your lungs. That’s where I do my best job, in the lungs. My job is to blacken them, make them weak and take your breath away.

You have time for me once more before you punch the clock, Charlie. I know what you are thinking. Will one more of me be enough? Are you ever satisfied?
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