Song of the Day.
It had taken twenty years, but as John awoke from the third night of sleep in a row in which his right knee ached so bad he hadn't gotten more than an hour of sleep at a time, he began to come to the realization that arthritis might finally be setting up around the area where he'd been operated on when he was seventeen to repair his cartilage and stop his knee from popping out of place several times a day.
He sat up on the side of the bed and rubbed away the dried-out eye boogers. He grabbed his glasses and put them on and the world became a little less fuzzy.
He erupted in a loud, wet cough, the kind that annoys everyone in the restaurant when it happens there, but the cougher can't stop. Ten years of smoking since his father's death was beginning to catch up with him, too. But then again, he deluded himself, maybe it's an allergy.
It was moments like this that he wished he smoked in bed, because then his cigarettes would be within reach and he wouldn't have to go all the way into the kitchen to get them.
A quick glimpse out the window revealed a rainy, colorless sky and branches being pushed sideways by the wind.
John grabbed his black shorts and managed to pull them on without too much added discomfort. He then found his red tanktop he'd been wearing the night before and put it on. Backwards. He cursed whoever decided to make them tagless and tried again. This time he got it on right.
He stood and entered the living room. Tiny, his minpin, sat expecting by the door, looking up at his leash. Take a hint, human, he seemed to be thinking.
"You're gonna have to wait a minute, Tiny," John told the little dog. "I gotta have a cig."
John cripped into the kitchen and grabbed the blue box of Camel Signature Frosts from the table. He kept them there because the end table beside his chair in the living room was too close to the space heater to leave a lighter unattended there. He flipped open the lid and shook out a stick, grabbing it with his lips. He raised the blue Bic with the bear on it to the end and spun the little metal Wheel of Fortune.
The flame was yellow and strong, and as he dipped the end of his cancer rod into it, he drew a deep breath. The end of the cigarette began to glow a cheery cherry red as he hauled down the first drag of sweet smoke into his lungs. He held it there for a beat. Then two.
As the first flood of endorphins rushed into his brain, he blew it out. That old, familiar tingle rushed through his bloodstream into his brain, then outward into his extremities. For that one brief moment, he felt good. He knew it would be the last time today.
He tossed the pack and the lighter back onto the table, then doddered back to the living room door where Tiny still waited impatiently. He grabbed the blue leash from the top of the TV cabinet next to the door and fastened the clasp onto Tiny's little collar.
He unlocked the door and stepped out into the world. The bitter rain fell across his back and the harsh wind caressed his bare shoulders like some long dead lover.
And so began another useless day.