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He looked at me. The glint in his eyes said it all; he was ready to fight. I took a last drag from my Marlboro Red and pulled it away to regard it casually. "Do you smoke?" I asked him, sure that my voice had no hint of concern in it. I wanted to sound unhurried and careless. I think I pulled it off.

His brows knit in confusion. "What?" he asked.

I held the cigarette up for him, so that he could see its burning ember as it smoldered in the cold night air. "Smoking," I said. "Do you do it?"

He did not seem to be in a conversational mood. "Fuck you. Smoking kills. Just like I'm going to do to you," he answered.

I shrugged and tossed the unfinished fag away to my left. "You're wrong," I told him. As the half-smoked cigarette flipped and tottered through the air in its soft parabolic arc, his eyes followed it instead of watching me, his true threat. He never saw my body traverse the distance between us, some ten feet or so. Nor did he see my right foot coming towards his head just before it connected with his jaw.

He was down in less than a second, blood trickling down the corner of his mouth and wearing a dazed expression. I didn't bother to approach him, wary of him making an unexpected retaliation. "Smoking. Smoking makes you strong. Strength crushes enemies. Smoking." I walked over to my discarded cigarette as he let loose with a long, low groan of pain. "Remember that," I advised him as I picked up the cancer stick and brushed the dirt off its filter.

The cherry had fallen off.

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