Swift and Blithe
What would a world without tobacco and e-cigs look like?
“You mean I can’t even get a square? No e-cigs? Nothing?” The woman shook her head no and placed a patch on her arm. Her eyes rolled back in her head. “Damn, that feels good.” This spring day, where the blossoms have burst open bearing the gifts of the trees, saw the predawn decades before the Great Transition in the state of Delaware. Before every right was respected, the lawmakers had to tinker with the apparatus. Yellin Boer, gaunt and smart in dress and appearance, strolled up to the counter to buy some nicotine gum.
“We’re all out ‘til Thursday, Mr. Boer,” the clerk said swatting at a fly.
Dejected, Boer then turned to leave to watch an influx of people rush through the convenience store doors to get their nicotine fix. Boer moved like a cat, swift and blithe. He parted the sea of people like Moses and found refuge outside the doors of the store. He still had two cigarettes in his back pocket. He dared not light one of them in front of this mob. At the risk of being hounded, he walked back home and carried with him those two remaining sticks.
Once he reached his smarthome, the television, house lamps, devices, and temperature all illuminated or switched to the proper setting that he enjoyed. He took a look at the screen. He saw the droves of people protesting in the streets to fight the Amendment banning recreational nicotine products. His stomach turned sour and his back straightened. He reached for his pack of cigarettes and lit one. With all of the research and all of the doctor’s appointments that he had entertained, he knew that such an activity was detrimental to his health. He didn’t care. The tobacco smoke emanated from the white rolled paper. This momentary relief propelled him to return to the outside world. He squashed the wad of tobacco into a tray. He strapped on his boots and went to the door. Two policemen stood at the entranceway.
“Can I help you officers?”
“We’re just doing random house searches, Mr. Boer, and yours came up,” Officer Trundle said sniffing the air. “Is that….” he pushed past Boer and Officer Hest. He found the still smoldering cigarette in the ashtray.
The officer rushed Boer and knocked him to the ground like a defensive end tackling an opponent. He searched him and found the last remaining cigarette in Boer’s pocket.
“How’d you even get this?”
“It was a gift,” Boer said.
He read Boer his rights and pulled him up from the ground.
On the way to the police station, officers in riot gear held back people trying to slam their hands on the cruiser. The magnitude of bodies and faces didn’t shake Boer. He rested his head back and thought of the nastiness of the moment. Once they reached the Wilmington Police building, Boer showed no agitation or worry and he never fretted. He sat in the interrogation room where the detectives Doric and Keaser just stared at him for a good 10 seconds. Boer’s hand stayed restricted to the table.
“I don’t need a lawyer. I know the law to the letter. I disobeyed an irrational, stupid law. I’m willing to be punished for it in any way that you choose.”
Keaser circled around to where Boer sat. “You want a soda or a candy bar?”
“No. Thank you.”
“Things will go a lot smoother if you cooperate,” Doric said.
“By eating chocolate and drinking a cola?” Boer asked.
Doric and Keaser grimaced at each other and with their arms folded, said, “Look, pal. We get what you’re doing. The whole crusader against the government routine. There can be some provisions….”
“We can set you up on a resort like compound where nicotine patches and gum will be available.”
Boer’s eyes brightened. “Would you really offer that?”
The two detectives smiled. “Yes, of course,” Keaser said.
“No.” Boer’s eyes lowered.
“We can break you.”
“And how do you plan to go about that?”
“We’ll toss you in a solitary cell with nothing but your clothes and a cement block for a bed,” Doric said.
Boer cleared his throat. “Do you see what’s going on out there? People are selling their own children for e-cigs. Tobacco? People are plotting and scheming to sell themselves just to satisfy their cravings. I’d say you throw me into that cell. I’ll be a lot safer in here than your uniforms out there.”
Keaser and Doric shot glances at each other. “We’re going to have to charge you with something. At the most you’ll see a judge, get community service based on your sterling record, and not even have to pay a fine.”
“But you were about to throw me in a cell….”
“Yes,” Keaser said. “But we’re aware of your legal background and the cells are packed anyway.”
“So, I can get out of here?” Boer asked.
Detective Doric snorted like a bull. “Yes, Mr. Boer.”
Unshackled and set free, Boer took a ride-sharing car back to his residence. Weeks later, he searched his home for a cigar. He overturned drawers. He dumped out boxes. Out rolled a single stogie. Like Prometheus brought fire to man, he withdrew his lighter and lit the cigar. After inhaling and exhaling the cobalt blue smoke, he heard a knock at the door. Not again, he thought. This time, he employed a fan that sucked up all of the smoke and smell. He discarded the ashes and stashed the cigar. He journeyed to the door. Upon opening it, he found a little box tied in a bow that read, “Smoke them because you’ve got them.” The ban had been lifted. He rejoiced.