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Wish Me Luck!

Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls . . .

Wish me luck.

Tomorrow I quit smoking.

I've had it. I've been smoking for close to twenty years now, with small breaks of a year here and six months there were I managed to quit for short periods of time.

It's going to be tough, I know. There's a lot of emotional baggage tied up with my pack-a-day habit, and I'll have to face those puppies one at a time, but the time is now.

When I was a teenager, I thought cigarettes were evil. I swore up and down that I'd never smoke. I wouldn't stay in a room where someone was smoking. And then, at the age of eighteen, I joined the military as a military policeman.

On my first night of duty, ten minutes into the shift, we received a call for a traffic accident with possible fatalities. We were the first persons on the scene.

The car was painted an odd two-toned color, indistinguishable at night. The front end was crushed against a tree and the windshield was shattered and covered in blood.

The driver had been drunk, and his girlfriend, a German National--her name was Anke, I'll never forget that--had been in the passenger seat unrestrained by her seatbelt. He swerved across the center line and scraped an oncoming car. His vehicle spun, leaving the roadway and crashing headfirst into the tree.

Anke went half-way through the windshield as the car rose off its back axle and got stuck there. The car then slammed back to the ground, cutting her cleanly in half. Germany, at the time, did not require safety glass in their automobiles. We found the top half of her lying in the grass next to the front wheel-well. The two-toned paint job was from her blood.

The man who was training me looked at me and said, "Well, we have to figure out who she is." I asked him how in the hell we were going to do that.

"Simple," he said. "Check for a wallet."

So I did.

I ran across the road immediately after and was violently ill, to which my trainer replied, "Good thing you didn't puke when you were searching. CID (Criminal Investigation Division) hates it when you throw up on their evidence."

He then offered me a cigarette. I declined, telling him I didn't smoke.

"It'll settle your stomach," he said.

I took the smoke. I've been smoking ever since, and it's become an emotional crutch. I know this.

I don't think I've ever dealt with the emotions I experienced during those years of law enforcement. I'd simply smoke and forget about it.

It's time to take care of this garbage.

The time is now.

Joseph Haines, signing off from The Edge of the Abyss.

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