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Johnny gave Darius a nod as the older boy zig-zagged his way over. Johnny raised a hand to catch him, as it looked for a minute as if Darius was about to stumble forward on top of him. Instead he just stood in front of Johnny, swaying slightly, smelling like a distillery and impugning Johnny's character.

Whatever, it wasn't like he wasn't used to it. You didn't grow up in a trailer park as a stranger to people thinking you were a larcenous piece of shit, and people seemed to have a worse opinion of Johnny than most. It was his face, he decided. His rabid-squirrel expression had not, from Johnny's experience, inspired a whole lot of confidence in his character.

He couldn't quite take the moral high-ground of course, given that he was a thief, and most likely would steal something from this trash-fire of a party. Still Darius, didn't know that, or even have cause to think it, and Johnny couldn't help but bristle in indignation at the perceive injustice.

Still, he dutifully fished the pack of cigarettes from his pocket and proffered it to Darius.

He hadn't even known the older boy had smoked. Darius had always seemed like kind of a nerd. Big into video games, the internet, that kind of thing. Indoor pursuits. Johnny didn't much care for the indoors. It made him feel surrounded, and he didn't like that so much. It was nicer to be in natural spaces, he thought. There was something about being outdoors, away from all that artificial stuff that he could really get behind.

He liked the feeling of being in the same place, looking at the same mountains that someone might have looked at 5,000 years ago. Back then, people didn't have career trajectories. They didn't have to worry about self actualizing or whatever. They got their sister pregnant at twelve, and then they farmed corn and tried not to get eaten by mountain lions until they died from consumption at thirty-five. If they'd've seen Johnny's life, they'd've thought he was doing pretty well for himself.

Johnny Ray McKay was, he concluded, a man born t0o late.

He met Darius' bleary eyes.

"Hey, you mind menthol?"

Menthols were what Johnny'd started smoking, and he'd stuck with them. The pack he had with him were Kools. He preferred the new Camels, which had menthol in the tobacco and a menthol capsule in the filter so the end result was doubly minty, but there were something like four different varieties of those camels, and whichever older kid he got to buy them for him inevitably bought the wrong one. Kools only had the one variety, as far as Johnny knew, and they weren't half bad, so all in all they were a safer bet.

It took more than a few beers to get Johnny smoking a non-menthol.They simply tasted... wrong, to him. Even his spliffs he rolled with menthol tobacco, and why not? It was, as he had rationalized to people many a time, like getting a free mint with your cigarette. Who in their right mind would turn down a free mint?

Still, there was some bullshit issue of race about them, because of course there was, it was Arizona. Johnny's uncle Toby had cuffed him round the ears when he'd caught him smoking them once - not for smoking in and of itself, but for smoking Kools, specifically. "Niggarettes" Toby had called them, which Johnny had found almost laughably ridiculous, considering the man had been wearing an Emmitt Smith jersey at the time. Toby was a big man though, and when he'd had a couple of drinks in him, like he'd had then, he could get mean, so Johnny'd said nothing, just given a shrug as if to say that he didn't really care, that a smoke was a smoke, and Toby had laughed and taken one.

It was always good to let people take your cigarettes, Johnny had found. Others might've said good karma, but Johnny didn't believe in that. He didn't believe in any of that Eastern shit, or in luck, or fate, or destiny by any other name. He believed in Jesus Christ in some vague and ill considered way, that didn't translate into attending worship or modifying his behavior in any fashion, but that was as far as Johnny's beliefs went. He just shared his cigarettes because it seemed right, and didn't think much on it beyond that.

Had Johnny thought about it however, he would certainly concluded that had He smoked, the Lord Jesus would almost definitely have shared His cigarettes. It was the Christian thing to do.

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