Friday, 4 December 2015

Day 4: Natural Recycle by Derek Corbett

Lifting his old baseball cap, Cramps combed back his long white straggly hair with his fingers and sat down on a tree stump.  Taking out a tin holding his cigarette makings from the, patched pocket of his dirty grey threadbare overcoat, he removed the lid.  The tobacco, a blend of other people’s discarded quality dog ends, he called ‘Recycle’, named after hearing about the subject from other travellers like himself.
The subject fascinated him so much, he would pass the time as he walked the roads, dreaming up ways of using the discarded items he passed. Unlike some of his fellow travellers however, he never picked the items up, he’d seen too many of them struggling with their wobbly-wheeled supermarket trolleys, to be slowed down by unwanted baggage.
Removing a packet of cigarette papers from the half full tin and pulling out a single sheet, he hung it from his lip, before taking just the right amount of tobacco.  Shop bought, the papers provided a better smoke than newspaper and anyway they were recycled paper.
Pausing for a moment to enjoy the smell of the orange peel he used to keep his tobacco moist, he returned the pack of papers, replaced the lid and dropped it back in his pocket.  Spreading the shredded leaf along the delicate thin white strip he rolled the paper around the loosely packed tobacco with his stiff dirt-grimed fingers, wet the gum and gave it a final roll before twisting the end.
 The making was always the same, the same actions carried out in the same order, a ritual.  He had done it the same way for years, ever since a strong wind had lifted the contents of his tin, spreading them out across the countryside; he’d been three days without a smoke after that little episode.
Placing the cigarette between wind chapped lips, Cramps took a 'throw away' lighter from his pocket.  Recovered after spotting its previous owner doing exactly what its name implied, he rubbed it between the palms of his hands to vaporise the dregs, before cupping the end of the cigarette with his hand and striking the flint. 
Waiting until the flaming twisted paper had gone out, Cramps took a draw followed by a short pause, before a coughing spasm announced the lungs attempt to reject their first alien intake of the day.
"See you’re still keeping up with the morning exercises."
Finishing the bout of coughing, Cramps spat to one side and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, before turning to look disdainfully at the little old man now sitting beside him. 

About the author  

A retired Engineer from the Petro-Chemical Industry Derek’s first attempt at writing a short story was in 1982 while working in Norway.  Returning to UK in 1984 he joined a writing club entering only club competitions until retiring in 2004.  Since then he has submitted without success a few short stories to magazines and the occasional competition.  He has also been a member of a monthly Critique group since 2011.  


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