08 August 2012

...but no one looked out the window: Smoker Guy

His name was Rutherford Alexander Thornswallow the Third, and he hated people who told him that he needed to quit smoking.

His girlfriend was doing it at that very moment.

"I just don't understand," she whined.  "You promised you'd stop."

He looked at her with tempered confusion.  "I never said that, Lena."  His consonants were long and drawn out, the remnants of an accent molded in his childhood.  Rutherford never told anyone where it was from, though it was entirely possible that even he didn't remember.  He took another, deeper draw on the cigarette, blowing the smoke out over his left shoulder.

"You did!"  Lena exclaimed, her bright pink lips convulsing into a pout.

Rutherford shrugged.  "Whatever."  He finished the cigarette, dropped the butt on the ground and stomped on it.  "Guess this isn't working.  See ya."  He turned around and walked away.

"Ru?  Rutherford?" Lena screamed after him.  "Are you breaking up with me?  Rutherford!"


The Lena Episode was a record ten days, four hours, and a handful of minutes.  Rutherford hacked and spit as he kept walking to his apartment, glad that she hadn't tried to follow him.  Jane had tried to follow him when they broke up.  Zora had stalked him for a month afterwards. 

On his way home, he stopped to get an Americano.  He sat for a while in the sun, wishing he could afford prescription sunglasses and glaring at anyone who passed by.  

A woman with bright auburn hair stopped in front of him and stared.  Rutherford tried to ignore her. 

"Hello," she said.

Rutherford looked her over.  Long legs, lean arms, straight nose.  Nothing that went against his Code of Women.  And she had mind-bendingly artistic tattoos covering both arms.  Double plus.  

"You look like kind of an a**hole," she said.  "I'm Roxy."  She put her fists on her hips and grinned. 

"Rutherford the Great," he said.  "And I am.  Just ask Lena."  He nodded toward the corner.  Roxy turned, but there was no one there for her to see. 

"Right.  Can I bum a cigarette?"  She had ice-blue eyes that seemed to be alive with electricity.

Rutherford looked at her sideways, trying to figure her game.  He ignored the cigarette line on purpose.  "I only date women with four-letter first names," he said, as though that would get her to go away.  "Nicknames don't count," he added.

Roxy looked amused.  "It's not a nickname, Rutherford Your Greatness.  It's the real deal."

"Eh.  Not interested," Rutherford said.  He was lying, and he thought that she knew it.  But he had a rule against dating women who came on to him first.   

"Right.  Well, then, I'll see you tomorrow. Over in that park," Roxy said.  She pointed to a spit of green and brown grass surrounded by a cement containment wall.  It was covered in dog crap and mangled pigeons.  

"Uh huh," Rutherford said.

Roxy walked away, her long hair swinging like a pendulum behind her. 

Rutherford picked up a girl from the bar that night.  Her name was Tina.  She had beautiful blond hair and was very, very fun when she had loosened up. 

In the morning, Rutherford sat in his window, his right leg dangling outside, while the left was hooked under a pipe so he didn't fall three floors to his death.  Tina came out of the bathroom, hair wet, her day-old outfit clinging to her damp skin.  She came up to him and put her arms around him, running her hands along his bare shoulders. 

He sucked on his cigarette and blew the smoke out the window.  

Tina tried to kiss him, but he turned his face away.  He was thinking about Roxy, and it bugged him.  No woman should be able to get his attention like that.  He wouldn't let it happen.   

Tina pouted.  "Baby..." she whined.  "Didn't you have fun last night?"

Rutherford smiled at her, annoyed that she didn't even realize it was a fake smile, and kissed her on the forehead.  "Of course.  Now, off you go.  I have work to do."

Tina bit her lip and smiled, twisted from side to side like a five-year-old and looking ecstatic. When she was gone, Rutherford put out his cigarette and got out his paint.

"Freaking galleries are idiots," he mumbled to himself as he flung the paint on his canvases.  He had set several up in a row, stomping on them with painted bare feet that slipped and slid in the wet medium.  The cigarette hanging on his lip nearly fell out a few times, but he caught it before it could damage anything.  At noon he stopped painting to sit on top of the back of his couch, staring down at his handiwork.

The galleries were idiots because they bought his paintings like they were worth something.  From atop the couch, though, there was a moment where he could see why they liked them.  Frenzied, harried, thrown together...He was distracted.  For the tenth time that day, he went back to his spot in the window and sucked on a cigarette, his murderous lollipop stick.

From his apartment window, he could almost see the "park" Roxy was supposed to meet him in.  It occurred to him then that she hadn't given him a time.  For all he knew, she could be there right now.

There!  A flash of auburn hair.

Without thinking, Rutherford yanked his leg inside and tumbled to the floor.  His hand landed in wet paint, but he didn't notice.  He slipped on a pair of shoes, made sure he was wearing pants, and just barely remembered the lock the door.  Roxy was just passing the entrance to the apartment building, and Rutherford caught up to her nonchalantly.

"Hey," he said.

Roxy looked at him like she knew he had sprinted over himself to get down to ground level.  "Hello."

"Want a cigarette?"  He offered a fresh one, which she took and lit with a match from her pocket.

Roxy stopped and took a few deep drags, then grinned at him.  "I thought you told yourself you weren't going to come meet me."

Rutherford shifted uncomfortably and almost forgot to blow out his smoke.  "I never said that."

"I know.  I just figured.  What did you do to your hand?"

His hand was yellow and gray, and there were stripes of wet paint on his pants.  "Sh**," he said, as he took himself in.  "I liked these pants."

Roxy shrugged.  "Come on. Park time."

Forgetting about his painted pants, Rutherford followed her.    

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