A Good Cigar Is A Smoke

They’re drunk and angry and not talking, so they start pulling books off their shelves to keep yelling at each other instead of just going to sleep.

“UNDERGROUND/POOR/FRIEND,” Quiana needles, wielding a collection of Dostoyevsky.

“RATS,” Solon responds, leaning on O’Brien.

“SPIDER WOMAN,” she threatens, with Puig.

“THE CHEESE AND THE WORMS,” he blares, nonsensically weaponizing Ginzburg.

She pulls two books, one by Aftel and one by McAlevey, to accuse him of “FRAGRANT SHORTCUTS.”

This goes on for hours, just a disgustingly long length of time, book after half-read book pulled from the shelves and shoved into each other’s face, moving from vitriol to half-joking game back to vitriol as the night wends on. They expand into other rooms, further shelves, dragging lights with them on cords that never seem to come up short. It takes longer and longer to find their way back, one minute, five, fifteen, half an hour, tracing the cord through a vast maze of hazy shelves; eventually Solon stomps off in a fury into the distant rooms and doesn’t return. Quiana stews, then worries, then decides to go yell at him properly. She takes his cord and paces through room after endless room, past books written by unknown authors with impossible titles. PERNICIOUS MUMMY by Jeromy Gride? TRAILING THE SNAIL by Bobson Dugnutt?

Eventually she finds herself back in their bedroom, staring down at the outlet, at the unbroken cord in her hand plugged into the wall, and at the empty bed, now cold.

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