Shower Smoke

Lite a cigarette

In the shower and smoke it

For over an hour

And the steam keeps my lighter

Burning desire yearning.

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An American Dream

Athens, 1939

I was drinking my morning coffee on the terrace, same as I do every morning, with the roar of car horns and ambulances sweeping through the streets below my feet. The buzz of this city pairs nicely with my mood: anxious, restless, and excited. Athens never skips a beat, not even then in 1939 when war is beating down Greece’s door. I lift the welcome mat behind my chair, the place I stash my father’s finest cigars, and light one up before the big journey. Inhaling the smoke from that flavorful montecristo, I remember thinking about giving them back to him before I take off, but then he’d realize I took them, and saying goodbye would have been much more burdensome.

I toss the ashes out from the tray over the railing and make my way back inside, the cigar tucked neatly inside my pocket. Mother is packing away everything I don’t need, the routine of her hands and feet masking the worry on her face.

“Ma.” I wait for her to stop folding my socks, socks I probably won’t need. “Ma, please stop. It’s almost seven, I have to get going.”

She doesn’t stop. Instead, she continues to fold my shirts, my pants, my underwear, and all other items that will most likely be thrown over board if I am caught. I rest a hand on her shoulder, humming her favorite old folk tune. She relaxes and I can almost see a smile tugging on her cheek. “The boat will be cold at night,” She finally looks up at me, “At least let me pack you a few extra pairs of socks.”

“Nicholas,” My father enters the room. His hair gelled tightly behind his ears and gut tucked firmly beneath his belt. He places today’s paper on the counter and picks up his coffee with both palms. I assume it’s so that he has an excuse not to hug me goodbye. “All packed I presume?

“Yes, Papa.”

“Got your bags?”

“Yes.”

“Crew pass?”

“Yes.”

“Are you sure that thing will work?” He eyes my white pants and jacket with the navy blue trim, then studies the identification pass strung around my neck.

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The Crosswalk

The city life is never, can never be discreet. Heavy metal polls with green glowing men signal for pedestrians to cross.

The crowd moves forward. Men and women in gray and black business suites step confidently into the street. Beside them are skinny teenagers with baggy clothing and large headphones to block out the city noise. They stare down at their feet, shoved aside by the occasional skater, kicking his back foot off the pavement to zoom past Cruella and her tiny, pocketbook-sized puppy. The skater skims her fur coat as he passes her by, causing Cruella to lose her footing and lurch heal first in a liquid filled pothole. The water is dark and muddled. Her fist is raised at the young man as she inspects her ruined louboutin, but he is already gone. Businessmen and women walk on by, not even a glance in her direction. The dog begins to bark assertively, until a young boy pushes passed the crowed to aid the distraught lady and her petite companion. He helps Cruella finish down the crosswalk with only 2 seconds left before the green man turns red. She is not grateful, but the boy is not fazed by her thanklessness, there is only kindness in his heart.

The green man is gone, he has moved across the street to let a heap of new pedestrians make their way down the crosswalk: another confident businessman, another quiet teen, another discourteous skater, another Cruella Deville, and another kindhearted civilian.