by Frank Freudberg
Publisher: Inside Job Media (November 14, 2013)
Amazon Paperback Link
File Size: 2456 KB
Print Length: 358 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0984594582
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Inside Job Media (October 15, 2013)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Amazon Kindle Link
About the book:
After surviving a hellish childhood, Martin Muntor vowed to prove the world (and his rotten drunk of a father) wrong by doing everything right. He took his work as a journalist seriously. He took care of his family. And he took care of himself. He exercised twice daily, ate a proper diet, and abstained from sugar, liquor, and cigarettes. For his entire adult life, Muntor worked hard, went to church, and lived like a monk. Yet, his chain-smoking wife left him, taking his two daughters with her. He lost his job to downsizing. The final blow, just after losing his health insurance: a diagnosis of lung cancer, Stage 4. All around Martin, people who wasted their minds and polluted their bodies lived on. And he was the one who was dying. He didn’t have time to spare—six months, at best, before the cancer (which his doctors blamed on secondhand smoke) did him in. Muntor was determined to leave a legacy, to wake people up to cherishing the gift of health, and to make Big Tobacco pay for its crimes—its sins—against humanity. If that took sacrificing the lives of several hundred smokers...well, so be it.
Martin Muntor's row house
It had taken Martin Muntor two weeks to get everything ready, a full week longer than he had planned. For a man with less than a year to live, a week had been too much time to lose.
All that was behind him now. Despite the sharp, relentless pains in his chest and back, he felt good. He felt great. He realized he hadn't felt this good in months. Maybe years. Maybe ever.
In a matter of days, three or four at the most, Muntor would be assuming a permanent place in the history of the world. And then no one would ignore him. No one would ever again succeed in pretending he didn't exist.
But Muntor couldn't rest quite yet, and so he rose wearily from the worktable in his living room and stretched. He paced around. He opened dusty blinds and leaned against a window to see the sky.
A perfect day, he thought when he saw the slate-gray clouds. Dark and ominous. God is the best set designer you could want.
Muntor sat down once more, anxious to complete his task.
He needed to seal another twenty or thirty envelopes, and then that would be it. All 700 packages would be finished.
He lit a Camel cigarette and began working.
Twenty minutes later he was finished. He got up from his chair and caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror that hung on the wall over the living room sofa. Drawn, nearly emaciated. Older than his fifty-six years. Not a handsome sight.
One thing was missing from the reflected image, he realized. There was no evidence of absolute evil. I don't think I look like the monster they're going to say I am.
Each morning for nearly two weeks, the dying man had been getting up before dawn to seat himself at the worktable. Nothing was more important to him than this project. The early hours had proven the best; he was strongest then. He'd make coffee and have high hopes of how many packages he'd be able to finish that day.
But most mornings, after only a couple of hours of effort, he'd lose steam. The dexterity left his fingers. The muscles in his back stabbed at him. And then his eyes quit focusing on the close, exacting work despite the assistance of the illuminated magnifying glass mounted on a swivel arm and clamped to the edge of the table.
On those few mornings Muntor felt he was able to work through the pain and discomfort, his body resisted him with another barrage of difficulties. Catching his breath required more and more effort, the dull pain in his chest tightened its grip, and the coughing fits became increasingly violent. Some days, Muntor would find the strength to work three or four hours, but that was his maximum. Then he'd have to quit. Getting to the sofa a few feet from the worktable seemed like crossing the Serengeti Plain, but he'd get there, ease himself down, pull up a blanket, and sleep for hours.
Now that Muntor had finally finished the most taxing part of the project, the assembly work, he felt better. The physical troubles had less impact on him. The tedium was over, and there, on the floor next to the worktable, was the fruit of his labor-six large cardboard boxes holding 700 FedEx envelopes. Each one stuffed and sealed with a form attached that would direct the envelopes to addresses all over the United States.
Once more, Muntor did the mental calculation he'd done many times before. Thirteen dollars to ship each package. Times 700. Nine thousand, one hundred dollars. That was going to be the most money he'd ever spent at one time. In his pocket, in the wallet with the fake identification, he had a cashier's check for the exact amount of the shipping charges. He had called FedEx. No, he had been told, he wouldn't need to set up an account. No, the seven hundred envelopes all at once weren't a problem. Sure, they'd accept a cashier's check from a local bank.
I am going to go through with this, he kept telling himself. Nothing was going to stop him, although he had good reason to give up. He'd been in pain, extreme pain, but he had a way around that. Muntor knew he could give himself an injection-a homemade combination of prescription painkiller and amphetamine crushed together by mortar and pestle in his kitchen and injected into his arm. But somehow, he felt that was cheating. And if he started giving himself shots now, what would he do when he really needed them?
For the first time in his life, he found himself committed to something. In grade school, they had called him quitter, and they had been right. But this time was different. This was payback time, and this was his last chance to make his mark, to accomplish something of note.
Where were those second thoughts, the doubts, the lack of confidence that he'd known all his life? They keep their distance now. He smiled and the skin around his eyes crinkled. They don't want to go up against me on this one. They don't like to lose.
Muntor slipped the last pack into the last envelope and struggled with each heavy box, carrying them one by one, piling them by the front door. He wanted nothing more than to get to that sofa, sleep, rest his burning eyes, if even for only a few minutes.
But he couldn't.
Not now. Not today. Not quite yet.
Martin Muntor had one more thing to do.
Monday, October 4, 10:26 A.M.
Bay View Mall, Boston
Raising two small children by herself made Millie Charlesdon's job at Tunn's Tobacco Shop in the mall seem like a leave of absence. She enjoyed every moment of it. At nine-thirty each morning, she arrived at the shop. At nine-fifty-nine, she unlocked the glass doors, plucked the occasional dead fly or moth out of the display in the store window, and opened for business.
A little before ten-thirty Monday morning, the FedEx delivery man stepped into the shop and rapped his knuckles on the glass case that displayed a variety of imported pipes and lighters.
She looked up. "Hey Greg."
"Something for you today." She wrinkled her brow in puzzlement. He handed her the FedEx Letter envelope and a clipboard. "Sign right here."
Then she smiled. "Wow, for me?"
She signed the form.
"Alrighty then," the driver said. "See you." He retrieved the clipboard and returned to his dolly stacked with other packages.
"Hope so," she said, jauntily carrying the envelope back into the stockroom. No customers were present. She poured the tepid coffee out of her mug and refilled it with fresh. Millie found a chair and sat down. She tore open the envelope and shook the contents onto a desk.
Out tumbled a pack of Easy Lights rubber-banded to a disposable lighter, a regular envelope marked "Survey Enclosed," a cheap pen, and a letter addressed to her, personally, on the stationery of TobacCo, Inc. Millie knew the company's regional sales manager. That was probably why the package was sent to her. She pulled the personalized letter from under the cigarettes and lighter and smoothed it out on the desk.
Ms. Millie Charlesdon, Assistant Mgr.
TUNN'S TOBACCO & GIFTS, INC. Bay View Mall
Boston MA 02109
Dear Ms. Charleston:
Thank you for taking the time to read this. We are conducting a consumer survey because we've changed the taste of Easy Lights and want to know what consumers think about the difference.
Complete the enclosed survey form now, and you'll be $100 wealthier in just a few minutes! TobacCo, Inc. will mail you a check within five business days.
We need your feedback right now, so our offer of $100 applies only to the first 250 respondents. We sent surveys to 500 tobacco retailers via overnight mail, and so by midday Monday, all participants will have received them. May I suggest you complete the form right now? It's simple. Here's all you do:
• Open the enclosed pack of Easy Lights and enjoy one cigarette just as you would any other.
• Complete the survey. We've even enclosed a pen for your convenience!
• Immediately dial the enclosed 800 number listed below. One of our opinion researchers will ask you to read your responses.
• Provide our researcher with your name and address - work or home, whichever you prefer - and we'll process your $100 payment today.
Thanks and please keep enjoying Easy Lights, Primos, and other fine TobacCo, Inc. products!
[insert signature here]
Vice-president, Product Development
P.S. If you are not over 18, if you are not employed by a tobacco retailer, or if you do not regularly smoke cigarettes, please discard this survey.
Millie checked her watch.
Ten twenty-six. I'm getting me that hundred bucks, boney. The good Lord knows I can use it.
An occasional smoker who had never tried Easys before, Millie knew her survey responses would be of little value to TobacCo, Inc., but she didn't plan to mention that when she called to get the one hundred dollars.
She removed the cellophane from the pack, took out a cigarette, and put it to her mouth. She flicked the lighter and brought a bead of flame to the cigarette.
Millie inhaled. A vicious cough burst out of her throat.
The smoke had blistered her mouth, throat, and lungs. Her eyes opened wide, and the burning cigarette dropped into her lap. The room spun so fast she saw nothing but a whirl of muted color. She coughed again, and a choking sound came from deep within her chest. Still on the chair, she doubled over, gasping. Her diaphragm convulsed, forcing air into her lungs. The current burned the back of her throat like a blowtorch.
She panicked, as if submerged in water without warning. She tried to scream but couldn't. What's happening to me? Her respiration became a staccato series of violent grunts and snorts. Furious coughing hammered her chest. She swallowed air spasmodically. Millie, no longer able to breathe, could only choke. Eight or ten seconds after lighting the cigarette, the poisoned smoke had annihilated her respiratory system. Her lungs had been rendered incapable of harvesting oxygen from air.
Millie's jaw locked open, and she fell thrashing, wild-eyed, onto the floor. Her body jackknifed, every muscle contracting then relaxing, contracting then relaxing, in pantomime of the gasping mouth of a caught fish fighting for air. Her fingers spread wide and rigid. Her hands jerked up in front of her as if to stop an oncoming truck. Bladder and bowels convulsed and emptied. At the moment of death, an agonizing spasm wrenched Millie Charlesdon's back into a shape it had never known in life.
For another half-minute, the corpse continued to jerk, writhing sideways on the unswept stockroom floor, crashing into steel filing cabinets, smashing into boxes, the overturned chair, and finally, a cinder-block wall.
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