The following is a piece of short fiction written for the weekly writing challenge at Studio 30 Plus. This week's writing prompt is "Las Vegas"
The moon is full this evening. A faint glow shines through the window, lighting the room enough to create a vague silhouette of a man and a woman, laying back in bed. An ashtray lay balanced on his chest and he smokes a cigarette. She's nestled in the crook of his arm and curled up against his chest in what is only partly a gesture of affection. Truthfully, the smell of the smoke bothers her, and she finds she prefers to breathe in his own scent of post-coital sweat and department store body spray. She never used to be bothered by it, but after quitting herself, she finds it mildly irritating. She's considered saying something and sometimes wonders why exactly she doesn't.
Meanwhile, as he pulls a drag from his cigarette and blows it towards the cracked open window, he wonders if it bothers her that he still enjoys the occasional smoke. Feeling mildly guilty, he thinks about stubbing it out, but reconsiders. If it bothered her, she'd have said something by now.
Laying in silence, the tiny orange beacon pulses as he finishes his smoke. Stubbing the tail end in the tiny glass ashtray, he places it on the night table and waves the lingering remains away. She adjusts her position, and breaks the silence.
"Have you ever seen Leaving Las Vegas?" She had heard the song playing on the radio earlier that day and wondered about the connection, if any, between the song and the film.
"Nope, never seen it," he replies sleepily.
"I've heard it's good. It won awards, you know."
"Ehhh. I don't really like Nicholas Cage."
Propping herself on her elbows she stares at him, momentarily, as though he's suddenly grown a third head. "What? Why?"
"Just don't. He bugs me. Good night." With that, he rolls onto his stomach and faces the wall, closing his eyes.
"Hold on a minute!" she exclaims indignantly, flipping on the light. She's sitting upright now, and he cries out in dismay at the shock of the seemingly blinding light and slams the pillow over his head. "What do you mean, you 'just don't'? That makes no sense!"
From under the pillow comes his muffled response "I dunno. Why do I need a reason not to like him? Can I sleep, please?"
"What about Adaptation?"
He emerges from under the pillow. "What about Adaptation?"
"We watched that. Didn't you like it? I thought you said you liked it."
"It was okay, I guess. I don't remember it much. Why does it matter to you if I like Nicholas Cage?"
"Well, I just don't get how you can just 'not like' someone. Do you think he's a bad actor? Is it because he's not conventionally handsome?" She's crossing her arms across her chest and looking vaguely annoyed.
Sighing dramatically, he sits up. "I wasn't going to tell you this, but here goes. Once, I was in New York on business. I was trying to hail a cab. It was raining that day and all the taxis kept passing me by. Finally a Yellowcab stopped and I was just about to get in when out of nowhere, Nicholas Cage shoved me aside, into a giant puddle, and took my cab that I had waited 15 minutes in the rain for. I missed my job interview, and the opportunity of a lifetime. Ever since then, I have hated Nicholas Cage and everything he stands for."
She pauses and eyes him, eyebrows raised. "Is that true?"
"Not a word of it. Can we go to sleep now?"
She whacks him with the pillow. "Ass." Flopping back onto the bed she gives him evil eye.
"You love it," he says, kissing her on the forehead and flipping off the light. She sighs and rolls over.
A few moments later, she rolls back over. "By the way, I hate it when you smoke in bed."
No reply. He's already sleeping.