Visited the Federal Courthouse today, and wound up shucking my pocket litter at the metal detector, which got me to thinking.
In my left-hand pocket I carry one of my father's Zippo lighters, even though I've never smoked. Check that, I've been on fire a couple of times which probably involved some smoking, but I've never purposefully stuck burning vegetation in my mouth.
Anyhoo, that lighter is there to remind me of Da, and because he always told me to never, ever leave the house without having a knife and some way to make fire on me.
This lighter has been a wonder. When my unit forgot that I was on sentry duty and relocated 30 miles north, I built a lean-to and used the lighter to start a fire to keep me warm and snug until the XO discovered my absence and rescued my happy butt -- eight wintery hours later.
I've used it as a signal, ignited various stuff and things, melted the ends of rope, heated dry biro pens until the ink flowed again, did the needful for various grades of explosives, softened putty, brought light to dark places, saluted rock ballads at a couple of concerts, burned threads off my uniform, and initiated a relationship or two by lighting the lady's cigarette.
I guess I could have done all of the above with a 99¢ convenience store special, but there's something about that "click ... SNAP!" that a child-proof, disposable, plastic lighter just plain doesn't have.
Had a critter one time that we really, REALLY needed a confession from. He was, as we say, a diaper-sniper, and had had enough brushes with the law that he had become wise to the usual techniques for interrogating child molestors.
We wound up putting him in a Segregation cell for about 12 hours -- without his pack of Ultra-Light 100's. About the time that the Nicotine Monkey was doing laps up-and-down his back, the day officer escorted him to my office, where I was wearing my usual Goth Cowboy all-black outfit.
I asked him couple of routine questions in a monotone, then took off the Gargoyles (black in colour), smiled gently at him and offered him a cigarette out of the pack of no-name, no-filter, coal-black Russian brands that had been banging around my effects since the Cretaceous Age.
You'd've thought I offered that SOB the keys to Heaven. He jammed that card-board-wrapped micro-stogie into his mouth, and then began reflexively patting his pockets for a light. Which I guarantee wasn't there.
Seeing his dilemma, and being a proper gentleman, I got out my Zippo, opened it, fired it up, and was ... just ... about to light the cigarette, when I remembered a minor family scandal involving his uncle and a sack of chickens, which led to me snapping the lighter closed as I enquired as to the details of this, and we chortled manfully about the excesses of our relatives.
It was only coincidence that I perched a ham on the corner of my desk, allowing me to loom over him just a bit.
I kept this up, popping the lid open and almost lighting the sumbitch's cigarette before I remembered some other gossip or tid-bit and absent-mindedly snapping the lighter closed -- "click, snap!", "click ... snap!", "click, snap!" -- until his metaphorical Pop-Up Basting Button was just almost deployed ... and then I leaned forward and lit the cancer-stick, allowing him to gratefully suck down half the cigarette.
I get the feeling that that no-name, no-filter Russian brand was perhaps a wee bit ... stronger ... than the Ultra-Light 100's he was used to. And maybe just a touch ... harsher.
I would not have believed it was physiologically possible for a human being to turn that shade of green.
When his eyes started spinning, I leaned forward and started asking the sticky questions. Which led to him killing the last half of the ciggy, which seemed to cause the green colouration to migrate from his face down his neck, at which time I began to get really firm about those sticky questions.
He sang like a canary. Anything to get the room to stop cart-wheeling, I gather.
With the confession firmly in paw, he and his attorney accepted a plea bargain. Normally, plea bargains irritate me, but this one meant we didn't have to put an eight-year-old on the witness stand.
I call that one a win.