On the third try the cigarette finally stayed alight, buffeted by strong winds, the tiny flames ate away at the cheap paper far faster than Joe could inhale the tobacco. But he didn’t smoke for the tobacco hit, that addiction wouldn’t kick in for another decade or so, and would take twice as long to kick. No, he didn’t smoke for the nicotine the same way he didn’t drink whisky for the booze or play cards for the swag. Sure he was good at all those things, Joe tended that way. It was more that his hands needed to be doing something. Teachers had forever smacked him with a cane to stop him drumming on the desk, his Ma had worn herself hoarse scolding him for tearing the newspaper to shreds or twisting the buttons off his shirts.
But Joe couldn’t stop it any more than he could stop the wind consuming his cigarette. His fingers just moved. They were always restless, looking for something to do, until the day Benny Kingdom put a horn in them.
On a trumpet his fingers were in charge and he just provided the air. And magic happened.
His fingers had taken him places, would take him many more, but to date, this was the most unexpected.
To Joe, the family homestead had seemed as vast as the plains and the forever sky, he was complacent about nature’s grandeur, but the immensity and opulence of The Ocean Empress had his fingers twitching.