Shore Ting

I gave the boy on the boat a cigarette. He took it right away. He cupped it in his hands like an altar boy would hold a candle, afraid it might go out. I’ll say this for him, he finished that cigarette like a grown man. He told me he’d never smoked one before, and I believed him. He asked for another one.

I felt bad about it later. I could tell he was going to smoke cigarettes now for the rest of his life. He had a taste for it, just like that.

We’d been walking along together since I’d finished eating breakfast. You never know what the story is with these local kids—are they beggars, or thieves, or what? I made eye contact with him as I came out of the breakfast shop, and he started after me.

“I can do any work you need,” he said.

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