Cigarette Suicides is my 11th book. Here I’m sharing with you the first chapter. Links for the book are after this!
1: First Cigarette
A cigarette was the only thing ever given to me. Wasn’t given a mother to hug or even a father to play ball with. Just a foster mother with a bad habit of overflowing her liver and mixing medicines.
Miss Foster Mama was old. She must’ve been pushing 60 plus. She had been a looker in her youth. Blonde hair with deep waves and sky blue eyes. A true southern bell, but she had move to the city where the action was.
Miss. Foster Mama had seen a lot of action and that had made her tougher than most, but also pass up marriage and child bearing.
I think that’s why she decided to be a foster parent. She could have kids without actually having to have them. She told us to call her Miss. Foster Mama. Partially because that’s who she was to us and names wouldn’t matter after we were truly adopted, but more so other people could know what service she was doing.
I believe in the beginning she really enjoyed it. She really wanted to care for the kids, but not every kid accepted her.
I could tell she was coming to the end of her fostering years. She didn’t move around as quick, but she would still put on an old song and swing her hips as well as have boys over for rounds of poker.
The kid who had been with her the longest would serve her and her friends during the poker game. The younger kids were always getting adopted, but as the years went by even the older ones started to get picked. I was still there.
It’s not like I sat there hanging my head over it. I knew why I wasn’t being picked. I wasn’t interested. I didn’t want to go to any old family. Unlike dogs I could speak when someone chose me from the pin.
So, my first night I was real nervous about serving and Miss Foster Mama liked to practice tough love. She came over to the table and I sat there not saying a word.
She eyed me. “You nervous about something, babe?”
“Don’t lie to me.” She said flipping out her switch blade.
Oh, yeah. She carried a switchblade. She had one for each of her handbags. She never used them on the kids. It might have been a cruel joke, but it didn’t scare me. I still did what she said when she pulled it out. I wasn’t gonna be the first kid she used it on.
I told her I was nervous about being around her friends. She smiled at me while opening a bottle of Brandy. She poured a gulps worth in a small paper cup and handed it to me.
I frowned and pushed it back.
“I’ll open your mouth and pour it down.” She said sternly.
I grabbed the cup and drank it. I was eleven then.
The drink went straight to my head. When I saw her rather large male friends come in I was nervous again, but she shook me out of it with her scream.
Miss. Foster Mama liked to scream. I hated screaming especially hers and especially because the table was only 5 steps from the poker table.
After a couple drink orders I wasn’t nervous anymore. Foster Mama drank straight Brandy. Her friends liked either Brandy or Beer, but after a while they didn’t care what it was as long as it made them forget about losing money to Foster Mama.
It was three years later when Miss. Foster Mama had her first seizure. The boys had been too drunk to notice her having a seizure. I knew what was happening and I sprang into action. I ran to call for help, but Lee stopped me.
Lee was a regular at poker night and any other time of day. He wasn’t tall and his beer belly was obvious. He was always wearing jeans stained by dirt, paint and probably more. He’s shirt had the same stains. His face was dark with hair that was never combed and thinning.
Lee said Foster Mama would kill me if I had called the police. Ambulances were the chariots rich people took to the hospital. Foster Mama didn’t have the money for that.
He and I grabbed her up and put her in the back of his white van wrapped in blankets. I had started to get twitchy with nervousness as we came up to the emergency room. They wheeled her off and Lee and I sat in the waiting area.
Lee had made himself at home. Drinking a beer he brought and eating Cheetos from the vending machine. He tried to comfort me by patting my arm, but his fingers were covered in Cheeto dust instead he pounded my shoulder with his palm.
I wasn’t comfortable being in here and I seemed to be the only one that was worried about Miss. Foster Mama having a seizure. I went outside to get some air. It wasn’t cold, but I couldn’t stop shaking.
There was a nurse outside and she was clearly wondering what was wrong with me. I was trying to act normal because she was pretty. Light brown hair, deep green eyes and lots of dark eye liner in purple scrubs.
“You alright, man?” she asked.
“Uh, yeah.” I answered.
“Is that your family? That woman who had the seizure?”
I nodded not sure whether to tell her who she really was.
“She’s fine. Don’t worry.”
“That’s what they say, but I can’t seem to stop shaking.”
“Here take a drag.” She said holding out her cigarette.
I looked back at the door like Miss. Foster Mama would come out and scold me. “I don’t know.”
“Alright. I only say that cause it’ll help you calm down.” She said placing it back between her lips.
I watched the smoke flow out of her mouth. “Okay, I’ll take a drag.”
She passed it over to me. “Now, don’t go putting your lips all over it.”
I was confused, but I took it and inhaled quickly. I bent forward coughing.
“Slowly, man.” She said concerned.
I inhaled again and let the smoke flow out. I took it in one more time before passing it back. I did feel calmer. Maybe it was because I focused all my thoughts on the smoke.
She finished it and turned back to go inside. I could see her from the corner of my eye stop. She opened her pack and reached to get another cigarette. “Here.” She said. “You need this. Take it as a gift from the hospital. Here’s my lighter. Just leave it on the side of the ashtray. I’ll get it on my next break.”
“They might not be good for you, but I’ve learned that most things that help you through a tough time aren’t always the best for you.” She winked.
“Enjoy it. You’ll be out of here soon.”
I wanted to savor it like the last piece of candy, but I also wanted to keep it like a sports memorabilia all locked up in a case. I was still shaky and when else would I get to smoke a cigarette.
I smoked it slow as I continuously peeked over my shoulder to see if Lee was coming. I finished up, but realized I reeked of smoke. I decided if anything to tell the truth in hopes someone would buy me more.
The next morning, Miss. Foster Mama could smell the smoke and she pulled me in by the collar. “There won’t be anymore smoking cause I ain’t coming back to this place again, so don’t get anxiety over me.”
I pulled away and nodded.
I never say I can see the future, but I know Miss. Foster Mama hadn’t seen the next two years the way they played out.
Every couple of months she was in the hospital for something which meant Lee gave me a cigarette for each time she there.
At the end of the year the state cut back on the amount of kids that stayed at her house. Soon after she died.
Silly Lee had suggested I stay with him, but neither Miss. Foster Mama nor I wanted that to happen. Miss. Foster Mama’s Will had included me. I was happy to be included in her Will. I hadn’t loved her and I hadn’t come to think of her as anything close to a mom. Just a more caring dictating ruler.
I think had I been one of her first kids at the beginning the bond would have been better, but there was still a small string of bonding.
Miss. Foster Mama’s Will stated that I was not a state kid. She said I was a part of her family and I was to go stay with her younger brother Papy.