He preferred to listen to the radio as he drove, but there was nothing in this part of West Texas but country stations and Mexican radio, so he was sitting in prickly silence except for the wind noise, which was considerable since the AC in this jalopy sedan didn't work and, although it was an early October afternoon, it was 92 degrees. Sweat dripped from the back of his hair down his neck. Out of muscle habit he tried to swig from the beer bottle that had been dry for more than two hours. Still empty. The outside air was gritty and arid. He started to hum the guitar riff from "Smoke on the Water" and tap his hand to the remembered rhythm on the warm metal of the car door just outside the window. She was asleep in the backseat, angry, or at least she had been when she'd climbed over the front seat back there and turned away from him. He was taking her to pack her things from her parents' house in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, but now he suspected she had had enough of him. Probably she would just get out the car and he would drive away. He wondered how he could persuade her to stay, what justification he could offer for his many offenses. He couldn't think of any. He'd never been able to. Maybe they were unjustified after all. He'd always assumed some code of justice drove him, made his iniquities understandable, but he doubted it now. It was sobering, like this long dry road, this empty beer bottle, this barren country with no rock music and not another car for as long as he could remember. Years later, when she finally left him, he would think back to this drive and wonder why she'd stayed all that time.
Hello, friends. I hope you're well.