There was no way out. Jack and I searched every inch of the chamber looking for any crack in the masonry or a grate that we could escape through, but the trap was too well constructed. As the walls continued to close in, I lit a cigarette.
“I didn’t know you smoked,” said Jack.
“Now’s as good a time as any to start.” I took a deep drag and started coughing.
“If you don’t smoke, then why did you bring a pack of cigarettes with us?” I was going to answer, but all of a sudden I started coughing again, much harder.
“Stop fake coughing,” said Jack. “I can tell that it’s fake because I just heard you actually coughing.”
“Look at Doctor Cough over here,” I said, pretending that the cigarette was a microphone. “Where’d you get your degree, Cough State University? I don’t even think that’s a real university.”
“Cut it out,” said Jack, “I didn’t go to college. I’m sensitive about that. You know that.” I was having fun being a comedian, though, so I didn’t stop.
“What was your major? Coughing? That’s not a major with very practical real-world applications. I can’t imagine many grad schools would be interested in coughing majors. I think it would be difficult to interview.”
“Okay, fine. You’ve had your fun.”
“What kind of courses does Cough State University even offer? Coughing 101? Coughing 201? That’s a pretty narrow track to follow. That’s hardly a liberal arts education at all. You should be expanding your horizons during college, and it really doesn’t sound like you took that very seriously, Doctor.”
At this point, the pressing walls were making it really hard to take deep breaths. I had to angle my body and swivel my shoulders so that I wouldn’t be crushed right away. I’d been holding the cigarette like a microphone so long that it had burned down to the filter. I yelped as it burned my fingers, and the burning butt fell into my open mouth, making me cough like you wouldn’t believe. I guess the joke was on me!