1. Gannon

    Gannon Contributor Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
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    Manchester, England

    Winner Mordecai Contest 18 Inanimate's Perspective

    Discussion in 'Monthly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Gannon, Feb 20, 2008.

    Mordecai - One Last Time


    Raising a freshly opened pack of Marlboros, Phil Turner finally said, “I’m quitting after this one, Frank.”

    “You’ve been saying that for the past six months.”

    “I know. But I’m serious this time.”

    “You said that as well.” Frank replied setting his cold beer down onto a coaster that had the New York Yankees symbol imprinted on it. “In fact, we’ve been having this same exact conversation for the past six months.”


    “So, you are ridiculous. Just quit already.”

    “After this pack, I promise. I’ll even put money on it.”

    Taking another sip from his beer, he set it back down onto the coaster and said, “How much?”

    “How much do you think it is worth?”

    “Besides your life, I don’t know. You tell me.”

    Phil thought for a minute, using his shirt to wipe the dust off of his reading glasses. “Three hundred sound good to you?”

    “That’s a week’s pay for you and me. Are you sure about this?”

    “I’m sure.”

    The bet was agreed upon as their hands met for a handshake at the center of Phil’s luxurious dining room table.

    Phil Turner had a gambling problem. He’s even been to a class once or twice because he’s lost so much money that he nearly lost his mind. He couldn’t seem to function right without gambling. Gambling was his drug, and this high brought him addiction. Cigarettes were another story, they brought addiction as well, but they just came about when Phil started to lose. These simple little pieces of paper calmed Phil and made him happy for several moments. At least until it was time to light up another one. No one in his family or any friend could understand how anyone could smoke cigarettes, they always thought of it as just breathing fire. It did nothing for you. But Phil seemed to think otherwise. At the tick of every hour it seemed that he had struck a match, and his lungs were now filled with death and horror. He liked to think that his lungs were filled with peace, and tranquility. And sooner than later, or the other way around I suppose, he would realize that this was a habit he had to let go. And tonight was that night. Tonight he will light one last cigarette, and never see one touch his lips again in his life.

    I first met Phil earlier that afternoon at a local convenience store. He opened up the package where I had been held for quite some time now, and flipped me upside down. At the time I didn’t understand why he flipped me upside down, but then I overheard him talking to Frank later on that night.

    “Let me get a smoke.” Frank said staggering over to where Phil had been sitting.

    “You don’t smoke, Frank.”

    “You know I only smoke when I’m drinking.”

    Phil tossed the pack across the table and landed on the ground next to Frank’s foot. “Don’t take the upside down one though.”

    “Why is it upside down?”

    “It’s my lucky cigarette. In this case, it will be my last lucky cigarette.”

    “A lucky cigarette? What have you gone mad?”

    “I’ve done it since I was a kid. I took it after my father.”

    Swiping the now dirty pack off of the ground, Frank flicked aside the ‘lucky cigarette’ and grabbed one beside it. “There’s no such thing as a lucky smoke. Hell, every single one of these bad boys could kill you.” He flicked his lighter and smoke poured into his lungs. He let out a long breath. “That’s not luck. That’s just pure stupidity.”

    “You have your logic, and I have mine.” Phil said, flicking an ash into a nearby cup.

    “That’s your problem Phil; there is no logic in what you’re saying. Or maybe it’s because I’m drunk. Either way, there’s no logic.” He flicked an ash from his new cancer stick into the same bottle he had been drinking out of. “I don’t care either way about your theories, because at the end of the night I will be three hundred dollars richer.”

    “You just flicked ashes into your bottle, Frank.” Phil said, laughing like he hasn’t laughed in years.

    “Oh well. That doesn’t stop three big ones from coming my way. Go get me another beer!”

    I guess I was the lucky one here. While they were outside having the time of their lives, I was stuck here in this cramped box with fourteen of my Marlboro brothers waiting to be noticed. I hated being the only one upside down. I was the one saved for last, and the one to watch all of my brothers being lifted to freedom. Not to mention that I had to stare at their bare asses as I stood on my head. That’s not something anyone would want to put up with, not even me.

    At around ten o’clock, Phil Turner reached for another cigarette in the pack, leaving me alone in the dark. I bid my final farewell to the brave cigarette being lifted into the outside world. During his time here, we managed to become close friends. His name was Jimmy, and without him lined up here next to me, the night suddenly was filled with sorrow. I realized that my time here was going out the window and that there was nothing I could do about it. But I was Phil Turner’s lucky cigarette. Phil chose me for a purpose. So the least I could do was to lead out along with the rest of the group.

    The time read ten thirty now, just about that time for Phil to light me up. Usually he would have a smoke every hour or so, but when he has a few beers in him; the time was cut in half. He said he’s always hated smoking to Frank, but couldn’t taste it when he’s been drinking. He could just feel it entering his veins, pumping the nicotine into his blood and delivering his state of mind to a relaxed atmosphere. Addiction is no joke.

    “Last one buddy.” Phil Turner stated, grabbing at the pack and nearly hitting an empty bottle of beer off of the table. “This last one is going to open up a whole new world for me.”

    Frank looked at Phil in the eyes, then at his beer in front of him, then back to Phil. “That’s the booze talking, you know that right?”

    “Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. Hell, maybe I’ll even quit drinking too. I’ll get my whole act together, and be as clean as a whistle. What do you think?”

    “I think you’re out of your mind.”

    “You want to put money on it?”

    “You’re already going to be down three hundred to me by tomorrow night, you don’t want to be stealing the old lady’s money to pay me off now would you?”

    “I’ll put down three hundred on the cigarettes, and three hundred on the booze.” Phil said smiling with his eyes halfway closed.

    “You got a deal then, mate.”

    After the two right hands of these staggering, mumbling alcoholics met, Phil Turner placed me at the edge of his mouth and sparked a match. I could feel the end of my figure smoldering, turning to ash. And my soul felt like it was being sucked out through a vacuum. At one point I became lightheaded and it felt like I was floating in midair. I was losing oxygen and soon enough I realized that I was actually dying. I couldn’t believe it. Up and down I went like a rollercoaster, from the beer tainted lips of Phil Turner to the ashtray where my remains remained. It was as simple as that. This was the process of my life disappearing into the captivity of the organs that kept this man alive on a daily basis. Let’s think of Phil’s lungs as if they were an Oak tree. The axe will be considered the cigarette smoke. If you keep beating on the tree long enough, it will eventually buckle. And that’s exactly what happened.

    “So how does it feel?” Frank asked, putting out a cigarette himself.

    Phil lifted his final beer off of the table and guzzled the rest of it down. “How does what feel?”

    “How does it feel knowing that that was your last cigarette?” Frank pointed to the now empty bottle that Phil had just sat down. “As well as that being your last taste of beer?”

    “It feels great.” Phil exhaled a long sigh. “It feels, not so great.” He corrected himself, and immediately hit the floor in a deep sleep.

    Sunlight was shining through the curtains where Phil finally awoke in an unfamiliar, uncomfortable bed. He wiped his eyes and tilted his head to the left and saw where Frank was sitting, reading a magazine.

    “Hey.” Phil finally mumbled out to get Frank’s attention.

    Closing the magazine, Frank got up out of the chair in a hurry. “Hey buddy, how are you feeling?”

    “I don’t know. What happened?”

    “You’ve been out cold for the past eight hours or so. I drove you here myself.”

    “Where am I?”

    “You’re at the hospital.”

    “Why? What’s wrong with me?”

    “Well, a number of things.” He pulled up a chair to sit closer to where Phil was laying. “The doctor said you had alcohol poisoning for one.”

    “Alcohol poisoning?”

    “Yeah looks like you had one too many to drink last night, if you even remember last night.”

    “A little bit. What else?”

    “Turns out you’ve been sitting on lung cancer for a month or so now.”

    Phil tilted his head back facing the ceiling, closing his eyes. “I don’t believe it.”

    “Don’t even worry about it, buddy. The doc said you’ll be admitted to surgery later this afternoon and will be in recovery for a few weeks. You’re going to make it through this, that’s all that matters.”

    “I suppose.”

    “What you don’t think that’s all that matters?”

    “No. There’s another thing that matters actually.”

    “What’s that?”

    Phil Turner tilted his head back to the left and looked at Frank directly in his eyes. A smile grew upon his face and for a moment, humor was the only thing that made him feel alive at this time. “You still owe me six hundred bucks.”
  2. Mordecai

    Mordecai New Member

    Dec 23, 2007
    Likes Received:
    New Jersey
    Thanks to all who voted on this in the contest. I really appreciated writing this piece because mostly everything is based on my brief youth past (except for the near death experiences), so I just hope you can relate to it somewhat too. Once again, thanks.

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