The cigarettes were good for him for they measured the time.
He did not look like someone positioned to start. Slouched in an armchair, a terry cloth robe his better off brother bought him at Penny's, draping his flanks. Not that he needed a nice robe. What was the point of owning a nice robe, unless you are independently wealthy and making your way about in it, all the day? But if you're going to buy a robe for someone as a gift, and you own a chain of machine rental companies, and you know, you're probably taking down six figures a quarter? A twenty dollar robe seems a little chintzy. Like, why bother at all, brother. Though everyone should own a robe, even if they don't wear it. It's just nice to have, though he wonders if the house were burning down he would think to grab it on the way out.
He leans forward and picks up the newspaper. Remembers when it used to be "this" wide: swears the print is a little bigger, too. He picks at the corner, separating sections and shucking away the periodicals for the glossier grocery advertisements. His thoughts are ahead of him now; he's guessing what red meat will cost him, how dearly, before he finds the image. He always does this. He imagines the worst. He does it so he won't be disappointed; no matter how bad prices get, they'll never be as bad as what he expected them to be. Makes him feel a little in control, a little bit the master of his own destiny. The steaks find him first. The splotchy redness of the t-bone slabs jump off the page, the photo is bereft of anything appetizing, but he is swept away by the numbers: 6.99 a lb! That isn't half bad. And he deserves a little treat.
The cigarette has burned down, and he remembers only taking one little drag, when he first lit it. Just to get it going. He looks at all the paper he still needs to pore through, and decides to light another.
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