Nicotine: A short story

One boat. One Balinese, one Bali expat, one Australian, one American. Three heavy smokers, one pious teetotaler. Two sacks of rice, three boxes of noodles, coffee and salt, cooking oil and sauces. Ten cartons of cigarettes. More than enough for a week sail to Bali...but what happens when they lose their smokes?

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About Richard E. Lewis

My parents were American missionaries to Indonesia, where I was born and raised and still live with my family. In 1965, as a nine-year boy living in Bali, I was an eye-witness to the madness that swept over the country and the island after a failed communist coup, during which tens of thousands of innocent people were slaughtered.

One rainy day in December, a man I’d never seen before hunched on the parlor sofa in my parent’s house in Klungkung, east Bali. He reeked of fright: acrid, bitter, biting. He was silent, hands clasped between his knees. A former member of a Communist party’s community organization, he was helpless, hopeless, marked for death, a marking that painted not by gray-skinned pallor but by stink. I’ll never forget that smell. My latest book is about that time: BONES OF THE DARK MOON, a contemporary novel exploring the massacres of 1965, a tragedy that is not part of the Bali myth and is unknown to most visitors and even younger Balinese themselves.

I grew up reading whatever I could get my hands on. I wrote my first my first short story when I was six-years-old about a yawn that traveled around the world. I also went to the beach a lot and surfed. I attended college in the US and then bailed out of a marine geology PhD program due to technical difficulties with my soul, which did not want to be shackled to a career. I ended back in Bali, writing and surfing (as a writer, I am best known for my YA novel THE KILLING SEA, about the Asian tsunami but I have other great books out there too). I also spend a good deal of my life looking for things, such as my sunglasses, which sometimes are to be found propped up on my head.

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