Andrew Magill via Creative Commons

Veins of chemical-smelling smoke settled around Bud Verney’s head like a crown. The sense of wild invincibility did not particularly appeal to him, but the sacrifice was worth it. If only Lonnie had a flaw or two, something he could use as rationale beside the fact of her hovering, mediocre attentiveness. His few friends, his weary co-workers, his prickly divorce attorney, to a one they failed to understand. They actually thought he should feel lucky.

This plan was better than the last one. Thinking about it now, he could see how maybe Gordon wasn’t Lonnie’s type. He guessed handsome and wealthy weren’t high on her list, otherwise she wouldn’t have pressured Bud into marriage. Gordon had taken the $250 anyway, saying, “I did what you asked and she told me ‘no.’ Gotta tell you, bro, I think she still loves you.” Bud grimaced as he put the lighter to the pipe again.

“We’ll see if she loves me,” he said to the filthy bathroom. He hit again and wondered how long it took for addiction to set in. Maybe she would find his stash tonight, confront him, walk out. He could be sleeping alone by Saturday. He smiled.