Quentin looked up at Todd from where he was on his knees. He wanted to cry…but he couldn’t. All he could feel was that same hunger beginning to build in him, and he reached around, pulled the cigar butt from his ass, and stuck it in his mouth, unlit, and began to chew. “Please…Please, I’ll do anything you want. Make me whoever you want. I’ll be your sheriff, I’ll beat up whoever you want, but not this, please not this,” he muttered to Todd.
Todd stepped into the cell with him, his leather boots hard against the concrete, and crouched down with him, watching him chew the cigar while he smoked his own. Quentin saw that his eyes had changed, from the night before–something was…wrong with them. They had been blue before, and certainly cold and calculating, but now they were something else. The iris was grey, and seemed to swirl gently as they looked at one another, and the pupil was black, but almost had a sheen of leather. Todd stroked the side of his face with one of his gloves, and he flinched away, only for Todd to grab him by the neck, squeezing him gently, tilting his head so his cheek was half an inch from the burning end of his cigar.
“This is my town now, do you understand that? I don’t think you do, really. None of you do, yet. I remember you, you know, when I was a kid. You were just a deputy then, always the perfect image of professionalism on the beat. I wonder, do you remember me at all? Do you remember watching me getting beat up in the school yard from across the street, that same grin as always plastered on your face? You didn’t do shit for me then–you were useless, and spineless. Now, at least, I have a use for a piece of scum like you. Like all of you–my dad, my brother, every man in this town. Do you know how long I’ve been waiting for this? Do you have any idea what I’ve given up for this? You can’t possibly understand–but that’s alright. I’m not keeping you all around because of your smarts, or because of your compassion. I’m keeping you all here for my pleasure–and do you know what would please me most right now? Making you a filthy fucking ash pig for the rest of your miserable life,” Todd smiled, “And you know what else? I think that’s what would please you most too.”
Quentin…remembered something then. Something he was certain wasn’t real, something fabricated by Todd and inserted into his mind, but it felt…so real. He remembered how, for so long, he’d been keeping a secret–that while to the rest of the town he was an upstanding, respectable citizen, whenever he was alone in his garage, he’d been…consumed by a desperate, insatiable desire for smoke and ash. “No–no, it isn’t true, I…I never did any of that.”
“No? You didn’t go on cam with strangers all over the world, devour full trays of ash in front of them over cam, coat yourself with it, and beg them to send them their own fill ashtrays? You didn’t do any of that? But you remember it, don’t you? I can pull up your xtube account, I can show you everything. It’s real now–it’s all real as could be. So you see, Ashtray–all I’m doing is setting you free. Setting you free to be the man you always wanted to be–because in my town, you can be exactly who you were meant to be, all along.”
He fled. He pushed himself to his feet, shoved his way past Todd, and ran all the way out of the police station. He didn’t pay attention to the other leather clad officers laughing as he passed them by, didn’t notice the thick haze of smoke in the air, from all of their collective pipes and cigars–he didn’t stop running until he was on the sidewalk, two blocks down, and crouched in an alley between a bar and a cigar shop–and he tried to deny it. Tried to find himself, but he was still chewing the cigar, still swallowing down bits of it, taking it out, licking the still warm end, coating his tongue in ash, moaning, groping himself, thinking about how…how satisfying it was. It was true–he’d hated that side of himself, hadn’t he? No–no, not that side. He’d hated his public face. He’d hated how everyone had looked at him in uniform, hated the standard he had to abide by…but now, there were no standards for him. He was free to fall as far as he could, and as terrifying as the thought was, he was so…happy, all the same, to be free at last.
Now, he walked the streets during the day, begging the men of the town for ash, smoke, spit, piss–whatever they were willing to give him, and enduring any act of humiliation to get it, and at night, he’d sleep in the alleys or get picked up by his favorite cops, and spend the night in a cell servicing them all night long. Now–now he simply was who he was–no illusions, no disguise. The ash starved pervert he’d always wanted to be…it was real now, and as much as he tried to convince himself that it wasn’t right, that he had it backwards, the relief was so real. He stepped out of the alley, wanting everyone to see him. Wanting them to know him for exactly who he was, the cigar unraveling in his mouth, leaf stuck in his teeth, and a couple of bears were coming towards him down the sidewalk, cigars half-smoked.
“Fuck, any…anything a filthy Ashtray can do for some of that ash of yours fellas?” he said. He said it. He wanted to say it, and when the two men shoved him into the alley for a little fun behind the dumpster, he felt that old Quentin withering in his mind, and he pushed him away. This is just who he was–who he’d always been meant to be–and thank god for Todd, for his town allowing him to become the nasty pig he’d never known he really was.
This is the end of “My Town” for now–there may or may not be more in the future.