Billy walked downtown. Every street lamp seemed fated to click off as he passed under. None of them did.
The pimple behind the register at the liquor store didn’t recognize him. Billy had graduated the eighth grade with his mother. He’d feel old except she had him four days before her sixteenth birthday.
Billy tried not to sound guilty as he asked for cigarettes and rolling paper. The kid only smirked and rang him up around thumb jabs at his dirty well past bleeding edge cell phone. “Nothin’ to drink?” He asked, knobby index finger hanging by some invisible mucous membrane over the faded beige with dirt trim total button.
Not much change back on that ten dollar bill, but the cig package felt good in his hand. Something to control. He stopped outside the door and wondered how any town could look more pathetic. It felt like a place that had never been part of a dream long enough to be lost. He parked his ass on the curb and ripped into the pack, clumsily tapping out a cigarette, lighting it, and taking a shallow drag. He remembered telling someone back in his city life that the nicotine felt like hot sand on his nerves. Where did he get such bullshit?
Something moved along the periphery of this depressed rural downtown. A light. He turned to see. It was the light of the upstairs office at the newspaper leaking out the alley. He stood up and walked toward it. He would confess to Charlie Oliveri.