“Next one’s on me,” I said.
“You know how many times I’ve heard that line?” she said without looking up from her drink.
“Come on, the night’s young, and the rain isn’t letting up. Besides, what’s a doll like you doing in a joint like this? A girl could get in trouble around here.”
“I can take care of myself,” she said as she turned toward me with a glare.
“I’m sure you can,” I said, staring into her big green eyes. “I get the feeling you’re running away from something, or more likely, some one.”
“What are you, some kind of detective?”
“I guess you could say that.”
“My father was a cop.”
“Well, we have something in common then.”
I turned away from her and took out a cigar along with my cutter and a Zippo lighter I picked-up during the war. She eyed the stogie and said, “He smoked cigars, too. I’ve always been curious about those things.”
“Would you like to try one? I’ve got more. By the way, my name’s Miguel. Miguel Martinez, but my friends call me Mike. I offered a handshake, which she reluctantly accepted.
“Soft hands,” I said.
“Thanks,” she said pulling her hand away.
“What about you?”
“What about me?”
“You got a name?”
“Lucy. Lucy Taylor.”
“Pleased to meet you Lucy Taylor. So how about that cigar?”
“What do I have to do?” she said pushing her hair back behind her shoulders.
“First you have to relax,” I said as I took another cigar out of my case. Figured I’d start her off with a mild one, an Honduran with a Connecticut wrapper.
I slowly ran the cigar under her nose. “Sniff it.”
“And it gets sweeter, too, Baby,” I said with a wink, and she smiled back.
I held the cigar in front of her and leveled the head up to my cutter. “First you have to cut the cap,” I said as I squeezed the blades together.
Lucy watched as the little disc of tobacco fell into the ashtray. Suddenly she looked right at me. I returned her gaze as I flicked open the lighter. Her eyes widened as I turned the cigar slowly near the flame. “Next, you have to toast it,” I said. She leaned toward me, our shoulders touching as a silky thread of blue smoke rose between us.
“Open up,” I said as I gently placed the cigar between her lips. “Now puff.”
I held the flame just under the end of the cigar, watching as it took on a crimson glow. A thin veil of smoke ebbed slowly from Lucy’s pretty little lips now parted in the shape of a perfect O.
“Mmm…That was nice,” she said as she leaned back revealing part of a tattoo on her left breast.
“Keep it and enjoy it,” I said.
“I will. It’s so smooth and creamy,” she added.
“Now you’ve had your first cigar,” I said as I lit mine, a Nicaraguan puro. “Say, why don’t we finish these over at my place,” I said, pushing my luck as always.
“No Mike, let’s finish them here,” she said as she placed her hand over mine. “Besides, the night’s young, and the rain isn’t letting up.”
* * *
By Gary Korb