Jack looked down at the smoke coming from his cigarette as it wisped away into the wet, cold air. Sitting in the parking lot on the side of the laundromat, he laughed to himself.
I'm never going to quit these fucking things. Fuck it. Another hit, another day.
He took another hit, and the smoke warmed the back of his throat. It was cold outside tonight, and the rain was such a fine mist, it couldn't truly be considered rain. The rain and air mixed seamlessly to soak his leather boots and push the cold deep into his core. The cigarettes were the only thing that made the evening tolerable, sitting on an electrical box on the edge of parking lot. A kid inside had been screaming and crying for most of the two hours he'd been sitting there. It had gotten old after the first fifteen minutes.
Christ, why won't she shut that fucking kid up? It needs the shit slapped out of it. If it's going to scream anyway, what's the fucking difference?
The kid kept screaming.
The town was nowhere, Kentucky; population 1200, one gas station, two diners, and fourteen bars. The coal mine had been shut down three years ago, and the people never moved away, because there was nowhere else to go — no promising future, no sustainable pay. All human activity consisted of television and drinking, and everything else had closed hours ago. The only thing still open was this 24-hour, self-serve laundromat, which displayed a large no-smoking sign on the front door.
Rats. All these people — fucking rats. They thrived when they were crawling through holes in the ground. It's where they belong. I don't know how anyone could stand to live in this shit, a trash-infested nest of inbreds.
He reached into his jacket pocket to notice he was down to his last cigarette. With a shivering flick of the lighter, he lit it up, and wished he had put on an extra shirt before he left the motel. For all he knew, he could be sitting out there another two hours. He flicked the lighter a few more times to amuse himself and gather a bit of heat from the flame, but discovered it was out of fuel. He tossed it, and watched it skip along the pavement into some nearby bushes. Some whiskey would take the edge off the cold, but he never drank when he worked. It was bad form, even if ninety percent of the job did consist of waiting. Luckily, he'd be back to Atlanta in a couple days, likely with several thousand dollars and half a kilo of cocaine. He sat there for another hour — cold, waiting.
A man pulled in and parked his car. He sat for a minute, smoking, listening to the radio, and when he finally got out of the car, Jack called out to him.
"Hey, buddy! Mind if I bum a cigarette?"
The man walked over to him, acknowledging him with a nod. He pulled out a pack of Marlboros from his red flannel shirt and offered it to him.
"Thanks, man. There isn't a damn thing open around here this late — not even for smokes."
"There's a gas station over in the next town, but it's about twenty minutes away. You don't live around here?"
"No, just here a couple days. Heading out tomorrow morning."
The kid inside was still yelling. Jack smiled, slightly amused, "That your kid in there?"
"Yeah. She's a bit of a handful. The high-energy type."
"Hah! My sister's kid is like that. You'd think they gave him rocket fuel every morning."
"Ah, runs in the family. She takes after her old man."
Jack laughed. "A loose cannon yourself?"
"Some say so," the man said with guilty grin.
"Like who? Who says so?" Jack grinned a little wider, and the man looked at him a bit strangely. It was an odd, abrupt thing to say. "Ah, probably the in-laws. It's always a bitch with the in-laws isn't it? Always on your case, I bet. Anyway, let me throw you a buck for the smoke."
"Hey, don't worry about it," the man said, shifting uneasily.
"Nah, I insist."
Jack reached into his pocket, grabbed the only other thing he had been carrying the whole night. The steel was the warmest thing he had felt in hours, and as he pulled it out, the man had scarcely a second to know fear. He fired two shots into the man's chest before he fell forward, hunched over, trying to breathe as he convulsed on the pavement.
The woman inside screamed, and the child was strangely silent.
Bending down, Jack fished out the pack of partially smashed cigarettes from the man's shirt as he listened to him gasping for breath. "Have a good night, friend. It's a shame I don't get paid by the hour; we could've talked a while longer. Not such a bad fellow. Mr. Roswick extends a personal greeting, and his personal farewell." Another shot ended it.
Blood was pooling near Jack's wet, leather boots. He took a cigarette from the pack and lit it, watching to be sure the woman stayed inside. He walked toward the back of the building and into the adjacent woods, his feet eager to make their way to the car with the heat on full blast. The workday was finally over, and the town a little cleaner than when he arrived. Jack took a long drag from the dead man's cigarette.
Another hit, another day.