I had taken up smoking again. And not only was I smoking again, I was caught smoking in the middle of the Intensive Care Unit at the hospital. The nurse came in shouting at me with half my family trailing scornfully behind her. There was even talk about a lawsuit and charges being pressed for smoking in a restricted area. My mother, uncles, aunts, brothers, cousins, everybody glared and shook their heads at me. I tried to stamp the cigarette out under my heel on the white tile floor. I tried to explain myself. I tried to tell them that it was just the one pack, and that once it was gone, I could quit just as easily as I did before. But every word came out like the feeble excuse that it was.
I slipped away from them and out into the parking-garage that adjoined the building. It was evening, just beginning to get dark out. I knew there was nothing waiting for me at home but long lectures, distressed sighs, and bitter recriminations. Down at the curb in front of the hospital, there was a black-haired girl in a light blue 65 Mustang convertible. She offered me a ride away from all of this. I accepted eagerly, and we were off down country roads that unwound in the headlights and sharp lashes of wind in the open air. I clicked on the radio and the dial glowed gold and there was a warm hum and then all the old songs were there.