As Kurt and Antonella Miller sit in bed, their traditional nighttime routine winds down to the typical mundane closure of clicking through the cable television channels. The process repeats itself over and over until either one of them gives up and decides to call it a night. On this particular night Kurt finds himself drawn to a particular channel normally ignored. He reachers over the bed and places a hand on Antonella’s shoulder to see if she is still awake. With a slight flicker of the eye and a ‘hmm’ sound, Kurt is made aware that his wife’s attention is still available.
“Ant, have you ever tried smoking an e-cig?” Kurt asks.
“What? No, I tried regular cigarettes when I was young and hated it.” Antonella says while letting out a yawn. After a second of feeding her brain oxygen, she looks up and stares Kurt in the face. “That stuff is gross. Why… are you gonna try it?” she asks.
“No, no, no.” Kurt says in a hurry while Antonella laments her disapproval. Kurt finally speaks up to stop his wife’s panic. He would never tell her, but the cravings to light up again have always been like a little tick. It was always there, even in times he couldn’t feel it. He knew it was there.
“Look at the television.” Kurt says while motioning his hand to the front of the room. It took Antonella by surprise after she was able to focus after the painful glare of the television light passed. It was an infomercial, the kind you always see in late night programming. “Yea, so? What’s the big deal?” Antonella says in an annoyed tone.
Kurt, snickered and said with firmness “That woman, we’ve seen her before. I just… can’t figure out where?”
On the screen stood three people. One was a young man. He wore a grey suit with a white button shirt but with no tie. His hair was slick and styled in a way that made him look like he was always running for prom king. To his left were two women. The one on the end had brown hair and smiled with an energetic affection. To Kurt she looked like an overly thin bird that couldn’t stop moving. Her face was so tight that you could make out a terrifying skull underneath due to years of starving herself for the big screen. All that hard work and self torture for doing infomercials.
The woman in the middle stood calm and collective. Her presence demanded your attention in both sex appeal and mystery. On her head she wore a strange black top hat and her clothing was long and hung off her beautiful figure like drapes. Her hair was long and done in a way that would indicate a certain nonchalant attitude. Like whatever she did was in style even when it really wasn’t.
As the commercial played its intro music, the crowd clapped and cheered. “These crowds are either paid actors or just plain stupid.” said Antonella. “Why do they always play the worst music?” It was true, infomercial music reeked of minimal talent. The man and three women smiled at each other as the camera pans closer to them standing behind a large table.
“Just like millions of you, we are constantly trying to quit the bad habit of smoking. Hi, I’m Mark Cremlin and I have to just say… I am blown away from this new discovery? Am I right Nancy?” says the smiling Mark as he looks to his left at his co-host.
“That’s right Mark. Let’s just face it, smoking cigarettes is a dirty and unhealthy habit. One we should stay far away from!” chimes in the much to chipper woman.
“I for one, smoked for years and always found it a hassle to quit the habit.” says Mark and then proceeds to ask “How many here in this crowd either smoke or once in their life smoked?”
More than half of the crowds hands shoot up in the air which made Kurt chuckle. “Paid actors indeed.” he said and tapping Antonella on the shoulder. She just stared back and smiled.
“Wow, look at that. So many people being effected by such a dirty thing Mark.” Nancy says while looking into the crowd in a dazed and high stupor. You could tell this woman did a line of something before coming out.
“Think about all the problems smoking causes! Yellow teeth, smelly clothing, bad hair and skin! Job performance problems and a slew of unpleasant comments from your friends and family! And let us not forget the big C! Cancer! That’s right everyone. Smoking cigarettes increases your chances of lung, throat and mouth cancer.” Nancy says while counting on her fingers.
“Oooh, that’s not good Nance. But hey…” Mark says while pausing and looking into the crowd with a rock hard glare. “What if you could kick that habit?” The crowd goes into a total uproar and Nancy and Mark look at each other and nod their heads in approval.
“Wow Mark, you’re saying we could stop smoking right now?” Nancy asks.
“Not just quit, but replace it with something much better!” Mark says as he raises his hands as if praising Jesus. The crowd increases the fury of cheers as Nancy and Mark both join in the applause.
“Hey Mark, does any of what you’re saying have anything to do with this lady behind us?” Nancy says while pointing to the woman in the middle.
“It sure does Nance. Everyone please put your hands together for your super awesome and super excited to see you beat the habit, Rose the Hat!” Mark yells as music blasts and the crowd gleefully yells as if welcoming a conquering hero. The camera pans to a woman standing to the left of the crowd. Tears flowing down her cheeks with her hands clasped together. Kurt thought she was praying in joy.
Rose approached the table with a smile on her face. She waved to the crowd and put her hands together as if accepting an award from a group of circle jerking actors.
“Rose, Rose, Rose! We love you and we love your product!” Nancy said while turning to the crowd for more applause which obliged in thunderous applause.
“Thank you sweetheart. That means so much to me.” Rose said, still smiling smoothly.
“Wait, I remember now! I saw her roll into town the other day! She must be on tour for her product! I remember that weird hat” Kurt said as he gave his full undivided attention to the television.
“Seriously Rose, what a great thing. But first, what is this ‘great thing.’” Mark said.
“Absolutely darling. Now, we all want to quit smoking… right?” Rose asks rhetorically. The crowd all in unison yelled “Right!”
“You all wanna be healthier right?” Rose asked a little louder. The crowd yelled “Right!” and applauded in a blunder of clapping.
“Now tell me, do you all wanna live longer?” Rose asked. This time the crowd erupted with “Yes!”
“This is my product, a once in a lifetime thing that will knock your socks off! This vape stick…” Rose pulls out a box with silver looking metal sticks packed in tight. The crowd all ‘ooohed’ and ‘ahhhed.’ “Will work wonders and give you the youthful vigor that you so desperately need.” Rose exclaimed while lifting up a box in the air.
“Neat little box.” Kurt said.
“Don’t get any ideas.” returned Antonella. She looked at him in a joking manner.
“Wait wait wait, Rose.” interrupted Mark as the crowd broke into laughter. “These little e-cigs do that much? Are you sure?”
Rose looked at Mark, plainly and as if she was thrown off. “That’s right dear boy. It’s a new innovation. Brand spanking new.” she said.
“Well we’ve all seen e-cigs Rose. What makes this so much better?” Nancy asked while holding another box in her hand.
“These are different and free of tobacco. Which means you don’t get the toxins of vape. No nicotine, no tar and no long term health factors of any kind!” Rose said while throwing her box into the crowd. The frenzy of hands went forth as the box went hurtling. A tall man grabbed above everyone and caught it and brought it in close. He held it like a long lost lover while everyone cheered.
“Well what is the chemical?” Mark asked.
“That my fine fellow is a secret. But I have a term for it and it’s called steam. It’s a complicated mixture. To make it is… tough, it’s downright… murder” she paused as everyone took that last part in. “Murder on me for the price it’s going for!” she laughed and smiled. Nancy and Mark both roared together as the crowd continued their applause.
“So you smoke it or what?” Mark asked.
“No, no you breathe it in and then taste the pleasure.” Rose said while opening a pen and unwrapping it’s plastic wrapping. She uncapped the top and placed it into her mouth and pressed upward. A tiny sprint of air shot out and Rose inhaled. It sounded like a long draw of the pipe and she kept it in. Her eyes shut downward and she swayed slowly. She smiled with ease and then opened her eyes slowly. Looking out to the crowd. Teeth looking white and glistening.
The crowd all yelled with joy as she tossed out another box of pens. One to the left and then three more in random places.
“So how much does one of these boxes cost Rose?” Mark asked.
“Well that is the catch my friend. For four easy payments of fifty bucks. This box of twenty pens can be yours! That may seem steep but I tell you good people. The price is worth the youthful splendor!” she said.
The crowd all clapped and whaled. Then Mike chimed in “Rose thank you so much for this new product. I can tell you all, these e-cigs work wonders and you won’t regret spending the money.”
“Let’s see what other people have to say Mike!” Nancy said. And as the infomercial rolled on Kurt and Antonella started to lose interest.
“Do people really buy this kind of shit. I mean, who believes this ‘steam’ junk is legit?” asked Antonella.
“I don’t know. Looks legit to me.” Kurt said as he raised the remote and changed the channel. It flipped to the next channel which happened to be the local news. A blonde woman in a woman’s suit was speaking quickly in a soft stoic manner.
“News at 11 brings you the top story of the day. New reports of missing children keep coming in. Leaving many parents worried and afraid to let their children out alone. Could a chain of missing children be linked? More news after this commercial brake brought to you by TrueKnot e-cigs! The youthfully infused vapes!” the news anchor exclaimed.
“You wanna watch the rest of the news? I don’t know if I could hear about these kids.” Antonella said.
“Sure but first I might try that TrueKnot stuff. Sounds like it’s a safe and healthy option.” Kurt said as they shut the television off and went down for a long dream filled night.
Thanks for reading my post! It is my hope that you enjoyed my short little story. If you liked this then go ahead and check out more of my content!