He meditated on the sound of his boots pressing into the freshly packed snow, a million crushed snowflakes singing out together in fatal communion, while a burning Camel Blue that had promised peaceful succor in the icy sting of winter hung weakly from his lips. He’d walked this path many times, and he wondered how many more times he would need it.
The snow around the tiny building of glass and aluminum was undisturbed, artfully sculpted by the sweeping winds of the Oklahoma plains. He entered the smokers’ shelter as if it were a sacred chapel, and in some ways, it had been. First kicking the snow from his boots, he sat down at the table and extinguished the cigarette in the glass altar that awaited his ashen offering.
For a moment, he listened to the wind pressing it’s force against the northern wall of the structure and pondered peace. Would this next smoke bring him any peace? Would it trigger the dopamine rush that began his worshipful love affair with a god that rolled itself in white and brown paper? Doubtfully, he fished deeply in the pockets of his woolen, smoke-stained pea-coat and fingered the smooth, steel of a Zippo and the sharp corners of a cardboard Ark of the Covenant of sorts. Ritually tilting and patting the half-empty pack, he eased out a cigarette and lit the end with a crack of flame.
Each puff was a dying prayer to a dying god. Plumes of faintly felt bereavement poured from his mouth and nose.
After driving the final paper nail into the now dead altar, he dropped the pack and the Zippo in to the waste basket, knowing that this would be his final pilgrimage. Slowly endeavoring the return journey to his office, he let the cold hand of Winter caress his cheeks numb hoping for some kind of purification. From deep within his ruminations, an old idea awoke in his mind, that peace–true peace–had not forgotten him. It sang its song under his feet, whistling in his stinging ears, cracking a new fire in the dark places of his restless heart.