We drove on another billion miles through the unchanging landscape that may have been unrolling like stage scenery, the same lumpy cactus kept appearing. A little later on Billy Bob became quite merry, while the blue faded out from the sky, and the sun set in tattered strips of poisonous colour, he said, “It’s getting dark,” (“Sure is, Billy Bob,” said I). “Sure gets dark out here at night… can’t see nothing for miles… Gets so dark a ni**er could be standing right next to you and you wouldn’t know, you’d just hear breathing… Gotta stop around here then… don’t wanna get caught out in the desert without gas… maybe get something to eat… maybe find a place to stay the night… Motel maybe… they got real nice sleepers around here…” he said, “Tourist camps… Cosy… Don’t cost a lot of money but real cosy… Classy if you like that stuff………………” He coughed. “It gets real cold in the desert at night,” said Billy Bob. “Hell I been out here twenty five years and it scares hell out of me, how cold it gets out here…”
At last we came to a gas station, where the marquee was falling to bits, and car tires FOR SALE had rusted onto the chains they were weighted down with, and there were weeds growing from out the cracks in them. Attached to it was a diner and a Dairy Bell, anti septicked to the point it smelled of raw pig’s anus. As he climbed down from the cabin he was almost whistling, “You hungry, little lady? Could get some prime steaks out here I guess. Don’t often get the chance to take a pretty girl out, always have to be going, on the move, gotta get sixteen tonnes of bottled water to Waco by noon tomorrer… But gets real lonely there on the road all the time, be nice to have a bite to eat with a pretty girl…”
“I’m not hungry, Billy Bob,” said I.
“You sure you ain’t hungry little girl?”
“Sure sure, I ain’t.”
His face fell.
As he filled the truck whistling to keep from crying and scratching hisself, I looked around: a swinging sign that showed a marching band potato with a face and eyebrows above his body, trumpeting about coleslaw; some Vargas girls pinned to the inside of the window, beside a sign for Motor Lube. On the other side of the road was a cyclone fence and some white horses grazing the thin grass on the edge of the desert.
Then I saw Billy Bob through the window buying a stick of withered stems wrapped in cellophane and some chocolates in a heart-shaped box; hell it was so quiet out there in the desert the sound of the cellophane crackling travelled out from behind the glass; Billy Bob was telling the gas man, “Sure that’s my girlfriend out there, my fi-an-cee… ha ha ha he HAW.”
He had a gym bag full of unbelievably precious shit that I emptied onto the driver’s seat, then filled with the stuff in the glovebox: sixteen packets of Marlboro Lights, a shit ton of coke and methamphetamine. Then I climbed down out of the truck, down the other side so he wouldn’t see, and high tailed it across the highway to the fence and the horses, and then kept on going, for miles and miles, straight as a shotgun blast into the fucking desert.
[I have already written the rest of the story here.]
Photo credits: http://www.randyfoxphotography.com/