May 15th, 2014

IMG_8877Smoke hangs in the air like the lazy wispy breath of a dragon left dormant, but dangerous. Filling the highest corners of the room, wrapping itself around you like a soft caress of a lover tracing the line of your cheekbones with tender ghostly hands. You pick up the books, each page carries the sent of cigarette smoke from the shop owner who sits languidly with his feet up on the small modest desk, the slight remnants of mud dripping from his work boots onto loose papers scattered haphazardly around the desk. Chair tilted back, one arm across his chest, the other cocked with the cigarette held like a smoking gun before the hazy grin of the warden of the books locked away behind glass cabinets. His wrinkled eyes squint with the stretched grin of a man who has seen too many things, watching the people as they come and go, enter only to leave, but the books remain the same. Slowly soaking in the poison fumes of his cigarette, which languidly rolls off the cherry red embers of the burning end, the books have been drinking the bitter taste of cancer for so long it has begun to taste sweet again. 

The warden flicks his hand sending the blunt withered end of the spent cigarette cascading into its pit of ash. Like an offering to the Gods, this burnt sacrifice has left only ashes and the smoke, the ghost of an offer, left to wander the pages of the books for an eternity of antiquity.

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Disposable, discardable, and undesired, the remnants of a sacred offering turned to decay before the coals could fully die away. The slightest hint of red still pulsing in its dying frame. The man who cast the smokey ghost to the ceiling of the room, who, through cracked lips breathed the ghost into being from lungs grown slick with tar. He is a modern day dragon caught amongst his sacred treasure trove of books. But like the dragon that hoards his treasure until the end of his days, the dragon of smoke pillars, the keeper of books, this creature not only destroys himself but brings ruin to the books that grow weathered with curling brown pages tainted and torn by the breath of a dragon left floating in the air.

Yet how sweet the smell has become, how romantic this hazy den of treasure has grown, like the lull of sweet sleep before the eternal slumber finally pulls you down. Is this how it will end? With a moment of glorious transformation, in which the bitter becomes the greatest and most just of desserts that has ever come before my seeking hands? But maybe not on this cold day, where the smoke constricts yet warms my face like the kiss of a caring grandmother rough like sand paper against my cheek.

The dragon smiles behind his desk, watching with leering eyes my path that I am led down by the smoky trails of a ghost I cannot seem to grasp. Intoxicated by the warmth of its seking, the spell only broken with the ringing of a bell. The front door opens, a rush of fresh air, the awakening of reality as the smoke escapes through the door and I follow suit, leaving the dragon behind the door as he reaches into his desk, pulls out a new cigarette and witha  flcik of his hands, the very same gesture he used to discard his offering, lights another cigarette a new. His eyes watch me through the glass as the cigarette burns red again, he tilts his head back letting out another fresh plume of smoke between grinning teeth. The dragon has begun again.
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