Act IV Scene 1
QUITTER: (After jumping on the Freedom Train, puts up a post to share his happiness and success) I made a 100 days today! It wasn’t easy, but I got here. And I got here because I made a commitment. I did my homework and stayed close to this site, and I continued to read and learn. I got here because I had support, because others paved the way for me and I paid attention to their journeys and advice. And I offered support to others which helped me too because it helped to reinforce those positives in my own brain. Newbies - it’s worth it. YOU TOO can get here. I was just like you 100 days ago. And no, it’s not easy. But if you just hang in - just... hang in! - you WILL make it. There WILL come an end to cravings. FREEDOM IS FABULOUS! (adds slightly chagrined) I’ve gained 10 pounds. Any suggestions?
QUITTER gets lots of kudos on his Triple Digit milestone and advice on weight gain. A new member reads his blog, is encouraged and sets her quit day.
NICODEMON: (Every so slightly worried This quitter’s doing better than expected.) Think you’re pretty hot stuff, don’t you?
QUITTER: Yeah, I do!
NICODEMON: Celebrating big. Be kinda nice to have a cigarette, wouldn’t it? You know - to celebrate better...
QUITTER: (pushing the thought away) .... yeah, right, celebrate my hundredth day of not smoking by smoking. What am I, an idiot???
(QUITTER ignoers him. Decides to go for a walk. Puts on a jacket he hasn’t worn in several months. NICODEMON smiles, waiting. QUITTER discovers an old cigarette in a pocket. It jolts him. He studies it. There’s a slight ache in his gut.)
QUITTER: You had to do that, didn’t you. You just had to do that.
NICODEMON: Do what? I didn’t do anything. YOU’RE the one that left the cigarette there. YOU’RE the one who didn’t check all your pockets thoroughly. YOU’RE the one who-
QUITTER: Oh just shut up. (He takes the cigarette and throws it in the trash. NICODEMON giggles. QUITTER walks out the door and heads around the block. He can’t get his mind off that cigarette. He was feeling so good just minutes earlier and now everything has changed. “Why?” he wonders.)
NICODEMON: (whispers) It’s still there waiting for you.
QUITTER: (tries to ignore him) La la la ,la la, la la...
NICODEMON: Don’t worry about it - you probably wouldn’t even enjoy the taste any more. (Pause. Lets that sink in.) What do you think? I’ll bet after all this time it would have a negative impact, if anything. You’d probably find you’d actually DISLIKE the taste. Wouldn’t THAT be great! I mean then you’d really be free.
QUITTER: (contemplates what NICO has said. It WOULD be interesting to see what one tasted like after all this time.)
NICODEMON: You’re past the point of no return anyway. This will simply be an experiment.
QUITTER: (Is nearing his old cigarette store. That ache in his gut starts up again. He gets closer and sees his brand through the glass door behind the counter. Someone just bought a pack and comes out unwrapping it. Turns out to be a friend of his from work.)
FRIEND: Hey buddy, how ya doin’? How’s that quit of yours goin’? (He lights the cigarette.)
QUITTER (the newly lit cigarette smells SOOOOOOOOO GOOOOOOOD he can hardly stand i t) Uh, it’s going fine. Just...fine.
FRIEND: Glad to hear it. Wish I could quit. (Gives a slight shrug.) Gotta run, I’m late to my kid’s birthday party. See ya... (He dashes off.)
NICODEMON: (subtly putting in the knife) Sure smelled good, didn’t it? (It’s not really a question.)
QUITTER is breathing hard, fighting the urge.
NICODEMON: (Using reverse psychology) You don’t really want to buy a pack.
QUITTER: Yeah, I do.
NICODEMON: Well... it’s all right...you know, you could buy a pack and only smoke ONE. Or buy a different brand. Then you’d be sure not to like it. But you’d find out what it was like after all this time. And then you could toss them or give them to somebody. It’d only be one cigarette, after all. OR (getting excited now) you could buy a e-cig starter kit! That way it wouldn’t really be ‘smoking.’ Ya know?!!!
QUITTER (walking into the store) True.
The e-cig starter kits are not that cheap, he notices. The sales guy whips around with a pack of his usual and slaps them on the counter.
SALES GUY (with thick Indian accent): Hey! Haven’t see you around in a while. Thought you’d died or something. (Laughs)
QUITTER: (doesn’t laugh. Stares at the cigarette pack) Yeah. Uh, no. (his mind is racing horribly) NICODEMON (is whispering incessantly) DO IT, DO IT, DO IT!:
QUITTER (thinks ‘I want this, I don’t want to do this, I want - I don’t. I... can’t...’ Out loud he mumbles. ) I can’t. (Breath) I can’t. (Breath) DO. THIS. (He’s dizzy from breathing so fast. His heart is racing. NICODEMON is on the edge of his seat. Time seems to compress. QUITTER blinks, once, twice. He hears the jingle of the bells on the glass door as a patron enters. The ever so brief thought of his friends on EX flits across his mind. He turns and....
RUNS out the door. He starts crying, then laughing, then crying. His gasps are ragged.)
NIDODEMON (is shocked, crushed. But revives enough to start whispering again ever so slightly desperate) There’s that one you left in the trash. You could still smoke it. Then you wouldn’t have bought any. You could say you didn’t BUY a pack, you happened to find this one and....it’s not like you’re relapsing or anything, it’d just be a little tiny slip.... You’d start right back up tomorrow morning being smoke free....
QUITTER thinks about that cigarette all the way home. He immediately goes to the trash can and takes it out. He walks into the house and goes to his computer to check his email. His sister sent him a congratulation message on reaching 100 days smoke free. “I’m real proud of you. And love you.” QUITTER weeps. He looks at the cigarette then walks to the sink and puts it under the tap. NICODEMON curses and fades.
QUITTER finally feels relief. He stayed free. The temptation is gone. This gives him much comfort. He sleeps very well this night and has a dream about being able to breathe under water, emerging and lifting off into the air, soaring higher and higher. NICODEMON stays awake all knight plotting his next move.