we taste like ashes
August 2, 2015
“Eh, I like try your cigarette?” I passed it over to my friend. We sat on the curb outside near the 24-hour Honolulu Chinatown Zippys, where you could buy chili, spam musubi, deep fried burritos, saimin noodles, shouyu chicken and chocolate pudding.
The place was empty because it was four in the morning. Also it was empty it’s surrounded the three, count em THREE crematoriums and mortuaries, and superstitious folk were scared to death of being followed home by the dead after eating their meals at Zippys.
I was having my dessert cigarette when he asked for a drag.
He took it, drew in a tight breath, and burst out coughing.
I massaged his shoulders to get the smoke out, but he kept on coughing
And coughing and wheezing
Sorry cough he said. I have asthma.
I dunno why I found this funny.
I felt terrible - his poor lungs. Like I had dropped a single crusty pube into the crystalline drinking water of a planned residential community run by Disney.
Like I had tainted my friend, spread ink through his muscles like a parasitic squid. My bad!
We stood to leave and
we heard the shuddering hum of vents
and of fans and of engines
and the pushing and pulling of air
through mechanical devices
like one enormous lung taking a drag off the world
And a spewing cloud of dust burst forth
from the vents
into the crematorium parking lot
and filled our lungs.
We choked and we ran and we laughed.
And while I will never know if
we really swallowed bones
I must tell you, my friend,
we taste like ashes.