He drew a long puff from his cigarette, the old school one, not his usual vape. I thought he didn’t smoke old school cigarettes anymore. He switched a while ago to vaping for a healthier option. But he pulled one out today and explained to me the old school cigarettes made him feel different, and he was in that mood. We had quite a few beers before this. We both held our alcohol well but I knew we were more than tipsy at this point. He struggled to light his cigarette.
For some reasons, his Russian features stood out so much under the shady street lights. The way he held his cigarette, his slight wrinkles on the forehead, the puffy worker style jacket, all screaming Russian. How could someone pass by and not tell that this guy ran away from Russia?
Tomorrow is my wife’s birthday, he said.
Oh, that’s nice. Are you guys doing anything special? I asked.
She has Type 2 Diabetes. He ignored my question. Not from being fat though. It’s strange. He drew another smoke.
She is technically Ukrainian. She went to an elementary school right next to Chernobyl. It was a few years after Chernobyl. The Ukrainians didn’t know shit back then. They thought after a few years, everything was fine. They re-used the trashed out materials from Pripyat to build her school. And she got Type II diabetes. You know why is that a problem?
Oh man, that’s some crazy shit. I was trying to process the strange information he just said. Why?
Because when she carried my first child, it was a shit show. So many complications. And I couldn’t leave her because of that. He said it with no sight of emotions, stating it as straight as if he was discussing a play in football. Because of this so that.
I just sat there, in the cold, not knowing how to reply to that.
I don’t love her An. Don’t tell anyone, but I don’t love her. His hand shook a little when he pulled the cigarette out of his mouth for a breath. His breath formed a small fuzzy foggy cloud under the street light.
I hugged him tight. His beer belly made it difficult to wrap my arms all the way around but I tried.
I told him. Denny, let’s smoke one more. I signaled him to pass me a cigarette.
He lighted it up for me. The fire flickered in the winter wind. It was weak but it got the cigarette lit.
I wish you were happy Denny. I drew a puff from my cigarette. Could you still be happy? Or is it too late?