Nobody ever said science was easy.

Sure, you can prove some trivial stuff without breaking a sweat. You can seal a plant in a jar and watch it die or bounce some lasers off mirrors, but the real stuff takes sacrifice. Like that guy who drank DDT every day to prove it was safe, Barry Marshall drank bacteria from an ulcer patient’s stomach and treated it with antibiotics to prove he could cure it, or those FDA employees who starved themselves to find out how much of a given nutrient you need.

And sometimes, well, you really have to get your hands dirty. There’s a reason it’s hard to quit smoking. You can forget about the gum, the patches, and the carrot sticks. The only way to kick the habit for good is to kill the person who give you that first cigarette. And let me tell you- that was not an easy thing to find out.

The first time was not something I’m proud of. I was robbing a convenience store. The clerk tried something funny. Reached for the phone while he was putting the money in the bag. I became a murderer that night. I lost the taste for cigarettes, too. Couldn’t stand ‘em. The cravings just stopped. For a long time, I figured it was because I kept seeing that kindly old man’s face. He sold me my first pack a decade ago. I’d smoked every day since then.

Long story short, I got caught. Yeah, yeah. Darn security cameras. I had a good lawyer and only got twenty years. I found out I wasn’t the only one with the same story. There was one other guy- Frank. He told me he hadn’t had a cigarette since he smothered his mom for the insurance money. Frank didn’t realize that life insurance doesn’t pay out if you kill the person yourself. He told me his mom asked him to put out one of her butts when he was a kid. He didn’t start smoking them until years later while he was away at school. His mom wasn’t even in the same state.

So I started asking around. Turns out if you’re looking for people who killed someone else, prison’s a good place to find them. Some guys told me they smoked more ever since they did the deed. Some told me they stopped for a while, then someone else got them hooked. I kept a list of those names and the people they got hooked. There were maybe five guys responsible for most of the smokers. I waited for something to happen to one of them. What else are you gonna do for twenty years? I saw guys get stabbed. No change. Even if they got paroled or sent to the hospital, same thing. One day, this guy named Vic got in a fight. Vic gave three other guys their first cigarette- Jerry, Barry, and Jade. Vic was giving Jade guff about his name, Jade gave him a real nasty wound. It got infected and Vic died a week later. I never saw Jade touch another cig. Jerry and Barry weren’t that lucky. They’re still on it. If I’m right, they’ll be smoking for a long time.

I got paroled not too long ago for good behavior. I feel like I won’t be out for long. I have an itch. I gotta get to the bottom of this. I’ve got a list of names of folks who filled cigarette machines, back when those were a thing. I’ve got a bead on a tobacco farmer and a guy who makes rolling papers. I picked the tobacco myself, rolled it myself, and I’m waiting for them to live a long, full life before I test my theory.

Science isn’t pretty.

(Post inspired by this tweet.)