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A Twenty-Eight Dollar Cigarette

by Daniel Hybner

From what I hear, at least a cheap hooker will still sweet talk you and give you a cigarette after a bad screw. Not these guys, though. These guys are pros. 


Their game? They get you to pay them first, just three bucks. What's three bucks, after all? It’s part of the deal, of course, but they lure you in on a nice, cheap price. You pay them to look at your work. Then, your work (naturally) is really, really good stuff, great stuff, they can assure you of that, but just not the stuff they’re looking for in their outfit. But they do have this other outfit that belongs to them but is not really them (don’t ask questions) that your stuff would be a much better fit for. Like, it’s such good stuff (just not for them) that they’re even going to give you a recommendation, tell this other outfit to be on the lookout for your great work. 


Talk about a chance. Man it feels good to hear. It feels like you really got a shot here. I mean, you’ve never gotten a recommendation like this before. This must be the real deal. So what if it costs eight times more for this new outfit? They’re giving you a recommendation and a real shot. A real shot. This is your real shot. 


They lay it on thick, almost sugary how sweet it is. You eat it up and gladly agree to pay them again (only not them, but still them. Don’t ask questions, remember?), only eight times more now. No problem for a shot like this one.


Hook set, line pulled tight, you bury that sinker for twenty-five bucks. 


The wait is on. Gratification is obviously delayed. You wait and you wait and you wait some more. You just know this time, though, this time, this shot is real. This is it. The wait is worth it. You can feel the climax coming this time. It’s building and building. The release will be so much better this time than it has ever been before. 


Then they tell you. And the sweet talk is gone. Barely a “thanks for the easy money” at the end of it. Sure, you’re only out twenty-eight bucks, but now you feel like a cheap hooker, used and used hard, screwed every which way imaginable. Only difference is, she makes the money and you lose it. It’s back to the drawing board for you. Again. 


With a hooker, twenty-eight bucks may not get me any happier of an ending, but I think it would at least get me a cigarette. All things considered, I’d take that cigarette. And I don’t even smoke.

About the Author

Daniel Hybner is a husband, dad, high school teacher, and writer, though not always in that order, who loves all things that deal with words. He has forthcoming work in The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature. He is, and always will be, a Texan, no matter where life might take him.

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