WAITING FOR THE APOCALYPSE IN THE PIT OF SCUNGE
The little squat bulldog from Wally Frank had to go back in storage, the blasted English Poker would come back out again. That particular pipe reminded him of the many times he had enjoyed rice stick noodles in broth with grilled pork (燒猪肉河粉 'siu chü yiuk ho fan') at Three Suns.
The rusticated billiard? Nah, good smoke. But perhaps not.
From the kitchen, the savage kitten who occupied the other half of the digs could be heard clanging pots and cursing in Cantonese. She was preparing another scrumptious feast for her serpent-hamster boyfriend.
Her this-ing and that baffled him nowadays.
Happily, badger surveyed his stockpile of pipes and tobacco. He had enough good smoke to last for several years, despite the hyenas and pit-vipers of the FDA trying to shut down the manufacturers of decent pipe tobacco while giving free range in a diminished market to the sleaze-bag cigarette companies (Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds), those being the only ones who could afford the extortionate filing fees that were being imposed, and, because cigarettes are addictive, they could pass the cost on to the consumer anyway.
He contemplated the situation for a moment. Surely cigarette smokers all had syphilis and consorted with punk rockers?
Ninety percent of all harvested leaf went into cigarettes. Of the little that remained, most was made into stogies. And the overwhelming majority of what was left got turned into sauced, glooped, and overly perfumed candy aromatics, favoured by lower class types and rodents who had no taste.
A fraction of a fraction of the merest fraction got used in fine Latakia blends or Virginia-Perique mixtures for discerning foxes, crows, stoats, ferrets, badgers, and the occasional industrious beaver.
If the cigarette smokers were depraved, then habitual cigar smokers were probably worse. Afflicted with glanders and the clap, and given to sexual perversion and cruelty. And smokers of aromatics, certainly, were utter perverts, who gladly tortured juvenile field mice and little kittens.
Society's cruelty made him sad. Horrible!
How could people do such things?
It was so very very nasty. Fortunately he had enough stashed away that the coming tobaccopalypse would scarcely impact him.
If need be, he could fortify himself with the machine gun he still needed to buy, as well as several cups of Pu-Er and Lapsang Souchong tea, a good book or two, plus cookies (!), and fend off all comers. The world had become a dangerous place, filled with health-activism zombies, severely puritan werewolves and politicians, and vegans, antivaxxers, Jill Stein supporters, and religious types. Nasty icky reptiles!
Safe in his clutter of pipes, tobaccos, tampers, pipe cleaners, and various books in foreign languages (as all books are, in an age that only texts, and glances at social media), he would survive until saner times.
Occasionally, perhaps, wandering into Chinatown.
To search for noodles and grilled pork.
A loud crash came from the kitchen, and a dulcet voice angrily swore about "the damned sensitive digestion of a Russian Jew".
She was probably referring to her boyfriend.
It was dark outside, and there was howling on Polk Street.
Intemperate cattle were drunkenly stampeding.
And gesticulating at televised sports.
They too, undoubtedly had syphilis, glanders, clap, sexual perversion, tastelessness, and an inconsiderate attitude toward small animals.
Zombies, werewolves, politicians, vegans, cows, lizards!
Tea. Must have more tea. Did he dare venture into the kitchen?
Or was the kitten still foaming at the mouth?
He decided to go out and wander uphill, where the bums and dipsomaniac hordes scarcely ventured. At the top he would fill his pipe and spend time quietly contemplating the beauty of the universe, the mystery of life, and the great sense of happiness that having a good smoke could give.
There might be tea later.
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