The smoke flowed upward like a waterfall in reverse. She knew what she was doing was wrong, that it could very well end in her death, but she didn’t care. Those few minutes of inhaling the sweet nicotine into her lungs, taking it into herself like a vaporous lover, was worth whatever horrible outcome she could imagine. The sign above her head read ABSOLUTELY NO SMOKING in bold harsh letters. Under it, a second sign read PUNISHABLE BY DEATH. Still she puffed away happily. So lax in her enjoyment, so caught up in that full bodied finish that the pack had advertised, so alive in the moment and so drunk on a much needed nicotine fix, that she failed to hear the clicking of a gun being cocked.
A loud bang that echoed sharply through the alley, a momentary flash of light, then a splash of crimson across the wall behind her. She fell limp and the cigarette fell, still lit, onto the ground. The man in the black riot helmet and bulletproof vest with the word POLICE emblazoned across the front sheathed his weapon, his figurative sword of justice, as a second officer approached from behind.
“Another one?” the second officer asked. The gunman nodded. “You gonna call it in?” The gunman shook his head.
“This is patrol unit 513 in city south, requesting a clean up at the coordinates listed in our GPS signal. Another smoker.” the second officer said into the radio receiver on his shoulder. The gunman knelt down and looked into what was left of the womans face for a moment, before standing and turning to his partner.
“Why do they do it, man?” he asked, “Don’t they know those things will kill them?”