Smokin' New Life


By daviek

Billy was about as stereotypical a nerd as you could possibly imagine. Entering his first year at the university, he was tall, about 6'1", but skinnier than a post with rampant full body acne and hair so greasy it soaked through his pillowcases. He was here on a full-ride scholarship to be a computer programming major, and all he was hoping for was that when he got to his dorm on move-in day, his roommate and he would have something--ANYTHING--in common.

Not so much.

Nick was a polar opposite in every way. Also tall, but erupting with muscle obviously built and honed over years of weight training (and maybe some extra help from a chemical or two). Perfect Mediterranean-olive skin with a shaved head and two large diamond stud earrings made Nick look like most women's--and many men's--dream come true.

When Billy walked into his room for the first time, his heart sank upon seeing Nick, already moved in and sitting at his computer shirtless with his giant hands down his mesh shorts. Billy thought he could smell something odd but couldn't quite place it. He dropped his bags on the floor, only partially on purpose, and awkwardly made a step towards Nick to introduce himself. Nick, for his part, was very warm and inviting to his new roommate.

"Yo, man," Nick said, extending a hand, "what's up? I'm Nick, good to meet you, bro."

Billy tried to return the handshake, but it wasn't the simple extension of hands he was used it; it was a full-motion hand-lock with a man-hug at the end, the kind he had seen the jocks and thugs at his old high school do for years. Billy's try fell flat, and Nick had to laugh. Still speechless, Nick had to prompt Billy to give up his own identity.

"Oh, right," Billy stammered, "B-Billy. I'm Billy."

"Sweet, dude. Yo, this shit's gonna be TIGHT." Looking out onto the quad and the mass of students roaming on the quad in the hot summer sun, he said longingly, "I mean, look at all these girls..."

Billy still stood motionless. He wasn't gay, he was sure of that, but there was something positively arresting about Nick that had rendered him deaf, dumb and blind. And he still coudn't figure out what that smell was.

Eventually Nick threw on a white wife beater and some sneakers and left to join the growing party in the quad, which freed up Billy's motor system to begin actually functioning again. He unpacked all of his clothes, mostly old second-hand t-shirts and tight jeans. He set up his computer, homemade of course, and all of the peripherals that went with it. If nothing else, he'd be able to amuse himself, he thought.

Later that night, as Billy was finally settling in and starting to recover from the apparent trauma of meeting Nick, his new roommate came in from the shower and dressed more formally than he had before. As he put on the seemingly painted-on polo shirt that conformed to his muscles like a wetsuit, Nick look at Billy and tried to be a good roommate.

"Yo, Billy dude, come out with us tonight."

"I, um," (great, Billy thought, the stammering again) "I don't..."

"Dude, get dressed, we're going. Right now. Come on. Hurry up, my boys are waiting for us. They're expecting you."

Billy sighed, got up from his desk and put on the nicest looking casual clothes he could, a comically too-large button-down shirt and some shorts, with white socks that ran halfway up his calf. Nick took one look and chuckled. "Dude, we gotta take care of this."

Billy didn't think anything off that seemingly off-hand comment. Nick and Billy left their dorm and made their way to an off-campus house where a handful of Nick's buddies were living. As they walked up to the house, Billy could smell that odd smell again, the one from his room at move-in time.

Walking inside, he could see what was causing it. About 15 guys, all of them as devastatingly handsome and masterfully built as Nick, smoking large brown cigars. Clouds of smoke hovered at the ceilings, and the once faint odor was now a potent stench. Billy coughed as soon as he stepped over the threshhold; he had never even touched a lit cigarette, let alone smoked a cigar. He immediately regretted his decision to come out with Nick.

A number of the guys came over to introduce themselves, giving Billy the same handshake he had failed to execute properly with Nick. Luckily he did it enough times that he learned the technique, but that was hardly enough to keep him from feeling like a stranger in this world.

"Hey man, you wanna try?" Nick asked, referencing his newly lit stogie.

"Oh, um, I've never..." Billy managed.

"You've NEVER?" Nick and one of his boys, Travis, said in unison. "Fuck, dude, someone get this kid a cigar. One of the black ones." Travis turned to Billy. "Not everyone gets the black ones. We like you, so we want to show you."

Billy was still overwhelmed, but had to admit he was a bit flattered. Another guy, Bryan, walked over with the jet black cigar, which Nick took from him, cut and lit for Billy.

"Here you go, dude," Nick said.

Billy took the cigar hesitantly, studying it for a long time before beginning to move his trembling hands up to his mouth. He put the cigar in his mouth, never taking his eyes off the burning end, and meekly pulled a draw of smoke into his mouth.

All of the guys in the room hooted and cheered. Billy couldn't figure out why.

"Welcome to the family, man," Nick said, patting Billy on his back.

Billy had no idea just how loaded a statement that was. •

This collection was originally created as a compressed archive for personal offline viewing
and is not intended to be hosted online or presented in any commercial context.

Any webmaster choosing to host or mirror this archive online
does so at their sole discretion.

Archive Version 070326