Don’t Quit Quitting by Bryon Quertermous

(This is a story I wrote as a tribute to Tribe and since he had no problems posting his own stuff on the Gutter, I shall do the same. Enjoy.)

 

Folsom Prison Blues is on the radio again for the 25th fucking time as we pull up next to the semi. There’s a 9mm automatic on the seat between us and Aggy grabs it. I quit smoking a week ago. Who the fuck is going to give me a gun?

Aggy’s already up on the step of the truck ramming the gun in the fat trucker’s face. I’m bringing up the rear coughing like a fucking nerd at a track meet.

“You wanna keep your fucking lungs in your chest man? The cops’ll go all CSI and shit on it if you keep it up,” Aggy said.

“Get him to open the truck and lets get out of here. This weather’s killing me.”

Its been raining on and off all day but it’s the goddam wind and dampness that’s killing me. Old man Jack they’ll all call me when they find out I have a trick knee in this kind of weather.

“Shit man, you’re not going to believe this,” Aggy yells.

I’m busy trying to hold my guts inside my chest so I don’t look at him.

“My luck, its probably smokes,” I hacked out.

“Better,” he said.

He’s hanging from the back of the truck like Elliot Fucking Ness and I start to wonder what’s in there. He’s waving at me to come on up but I stay on the ground. The last thing I need is to fall off a goddam truck in front of Aggy. I’m still coughing so he doesn’t ask many questions.

“It’s quitting gum,” he finally says when I won’t talk back to him. “Nico-fuckin-rette, man. How perfect is that?”

I cough again and feel something in my spine pinch.

“What the fuck are we suppose to do with a truck full of non-smoking gum?” I ask.

“Shit sells just as easy as smokes. Probably make more money.”

 He’s too stupid to get it, so I grab his ankle and pull him off the truck.

“There’s no market for this. Who’s going to buy it from us when they can buy it at the Walmart without breaking the law?”

“You can buy cigarettes at the Walmart without breaking the law.”

“They don’t have to pay the fucking taxes on smokes if they buy them from us. There’s no non-smoking tax.”

“But we didn’t pay nothin’ for ’em. We can sell ’em cheap and still make money.”

“Go see what the driver has on him and maybe we can call this even. Take a few of these things but I’m not going to try and unload a whole truck of quitting gum in
Detroit.”

“I, umm, well I figured it would be—”

“You fucking let him go, didn’t you?”

“I tried to tell you but you were hacking out your lunch and I—”

“The cops are probably already on their way here now. Shit, man.”

“No way. He won’t say nothin’ and I don’t hear sirens.”

I punch him in the side of the head and knock him in a circle before he hits the ground. I need a fucking cigarette and I can’t have one. Aggy’s gun is on the ground next to him so I pick it up and shoot him once in the head and once in the chest.

“Fucking moron,” I say by way of eulogy.

That was supposed to relax me, it always does, but now I’m antsy, angry, withdrawn, and guilty. I really need a fucking cig—

And then it hits me. The main ingredient in quitting gum.

I haul my old ass up into the truck just to be sure. But there it is on the side of the package like a fucking neon strip club sign. 2m of nicotine in each piece. I empty a whole package in my mouth and start chewing as I load Aggy’s body in the trunk.

This way I won’t get a craving while I burn his stupid ass.

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