The auditorium hushed on the word, “Go.” Both finalists lit their pre-cut cigars which glowed, ash growing.
As the large clock counted the seconds, the silent audience used finger gestures to make bets on whose ash would collapse first.
When smoke curled into the expectant air, each combatant laid their cigar in the groove of the crystal ashtray.
The ash lengthened; the clock ticked.
Gazes fixed on the smouldering cigar. The aroma of tobacco leaf gave way to a mix of liquorice, vanilla, and a hint of dark rum. Ralph pursed his lips around the damp end.