Thisbe Sleeps

2 p.m. came fast and the strait-jacket wasn't helping my driving. I sat behind the wheel with a smile on my face and molybdenum on my mind. The metal is positively delightful. Or so I thought then.

Molybdenum is no match for gallium. Gallium, oh God. I wish I had some gallium.

Presumably Julia had paved the road to Calgary with gold, or some reasonable substitute therefor. I peered out the window and saw no such thing.

We took the high road and before long I'd snapped out of it.

"Take off that stupid thing." Julia frowned distastefully as I tried to steer, arms strapped and crossed.

But I'd have none of it. I was in need of some metals; the shinier the better.

It's always comforting to watch the scenery slide by, by the side, past the car, out from the corner of my eye and into the blind side. Green signs with white outlines.

We drove through a sunset of polished lavender, her eyes taking on a brilliant hue and my skin crawling in the nervous light.

It was then that all hell broke loose. The cool fragrant atmosphere turned to dark liquid mush. I slid down my shades and leaned back in the seat, flooring it as a truckload of wide-eyed and frantic insomniacs loomed in the rearview.

"I like it when you speed." Julia curled the edge of her lip and laughed.

I stuck my face to the wheel and steered like a madman.

Lexie's Diner & Gas. We pulled off fast and glanced back to watch the truck rumble past, carried with screeching arms and bloodshot toothless momentum into the distance.

It was a slow night at Lexie's. Burnt neon melted the air, drooling down from her infinite electric billboard.

Inside, it was tired and dim. Red vinyl stools lined the counter and beckoned with dangerous lukewarm expressions. They would suck us down into some abysmal paradise of plastic and express chili con carne. I edged away from them and nudged Julia. Julia was indifferent. We ate our food standing, Julia feeding us both.

At that moment I decided to cut my losses, throwing aside the yearnings of yesteryear. Metals are for the dogs, anyway. Only the shiniest ever held my attention.

I requisitioned the masking tape from Julia, but she had used the last at a rest stop ten miles back. Just in time, too. Her limbs were sagging and her tongue lolled out obscenely. Julia was falling apart at the seams and God knows I was close.

With indescribably reckless abandon, we set off for the wild blue yonder, the immortal future, and whatever other wonders that might chance upon our path.

Copyright (c) 1999