“Turn on your smart phone and figure out somewhere for us to buy beer.”

“I’m trying but I can’t get a signal.” She squinted into the screen and silhouetted her lips against the window from my driver’s seat position, the bird peckers curling upwards in the dark, unattractive caterpillars of flesh decorated in burgundy gloss. Unattractive. Tennessee had been a bender, far and wet and only getting hotter…I had taken enough of the stories about daddy’s CEO ventures and her brother’s sure-thing-pop-star career, drips and drips and drips…my patience had evaporated with the electrolytes.

I wiped my hand across my forehead. “What’s the point of paying five hundred dollars a month for that thing to piss out on you? I say we pull over at the next town, go to a gas station, and find out where the attendant buys his suds. Or where he brews them… fuck that screen of yours.” The whiskey from Louisville still bit my tongue after my teeth did and the sting stung but there were issues at hand. Pressing, important matters.

“There’s no service out here, sorry. And by the way I don’t pay five hundred for…”

“Of course you don’t pay for it you miserable fucking cunt, your old man does!” Long range targets and oak barrels and clips of ammunition flooded my mind, sweat continuing its exodus down my face. “Next time you talk is going to be when you offer us directions to where we can find cold beer!”

The other three sat in silence. It had been seven hours since we had left urbanization… months since I had stood near sanity. Glenn remained steady in the passenger seat… an ideal shotgun, undeterred, uninterested in conversation and hoping only for some kind of filtered draft to come his way as soon as was agreeable… rolling and rolling along, far from the cover-charges and festering sidewalks of suits and highway-drive-by-advertise-here-advertisements. SteveO focused on his line of cocaine across the plastic-panel’d-side-pocket of the backseat, laid across a CD case, straight enough, with Donut watching everything intently and doggedly panting and silently laughing towards Sharon.

She was upset now, pretending to look at the screen, deperately trying to summon a pithy supply of courage to say something back, to the ‘cunt’ phrase, but there was nothing. There was no hope for any of us. No beer, hardly any gas, a strange girl in the car who we couldn’t use for sex or drugs or even cell phone capabilities… everything was hot and sticking and stretching conscious patience.

“Okay, I think I have something,” her cadence had shifted from field-mouse squeaking to Cassanovan braggadocio and I laughed with the deep gulp that accompanied the back end of her sentence. “Yeah, I do, we should be coming around a Wal-Mart in about sixty miles, and it’s supposed to be open all night, according to the website.”

“Call and make sure.” The price of technology… the enslavement of pixilation. I pulled my shorts off the bottom of the leather seat and dragged the window down a little further and lit another cigarette. “Make sure they have Budweiser heavy and plenty of Marlboro 72’s. Or else.” I laughed and so did Donut.

Inhalations and head shakes and eye rubbing from the back seat, SteveO beamed up at me in the rear view window. “Hey driver, you want a rail to get you through this last end of Chatanooga?”

“Hell yes.”


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