• Vol. 07
  • Chapter 03

Every lie a small play

She jabbed a cigarette at me, a Gitanes, ash a sinister red eye, a pop of expulsed brown air clouding behind it, fingers stubbed and accusatory, so furious she let her tobacco speak for her. Answer me, the cigarette said, and answer me honestly. But I am not a merchant of truth, my stock in trade are small, wheedling lies, which I dispense with virtually no pretext and for almost no reward. It's a meagre trade but the only one I have any skill for, and so I ruffled through my sales sack and produced the most meagre untruth I had in my possession, a tale of a night spent drinking with two sailors who later buttonholed me in an alley and stole three things from me, wallet, hat, and teeth. The cigarette went out and so she relit it, and it made one final demand of me: open your mouth. So open the mouth went, showing off rows of swollen gums, not a tooth planted anywhere. This seemed to satisfy the cigarette, as it ducked away from me, along with its possessor, a reminder of what I long knew: there are many uses for a pliers.