I come to – in a lucid daydream of cognizance.
I am driving a car. It is my car, thankfully. I turn my head driver’s side and check my 9 o’clock. I am mostly certain of the following: I am driving on a two lane highway, Holly is asleep to my right, and I need to get off the road – stat. Hummus colored dunes undulate in the foreground like jiggling Jell-O molds. We are somehow traveling on both an x and y-axis, the sun is a molten globe on the end of a gaffer’s blowpipe, and my eyes are adjusting like an eclipse starring child’s. Car tires grip the sweltering road like dime store magic tricks or blowflies caught on their yellow ribbon of doom. The road requires my full attention as I squint through the insect decimated windshield; the road escapes via illusory thermal dynamics, and Newton is defied as the grey road escapes to heaven. And like a dream, this mechanical maroon beast knives through the aridness.
I am equal parts panic and safety seeking: our chariot lumbers into a gas station. The second pump is available. I park, and leave the car running. Upon my exit from the vehicle I look right to confirm the pump number. I use a spare key to lock the doors then head into the “smart” part of “GasSmart.” My mental fog mostly lifts, and I devise a plan for our next destination unknown. Two things are certain: I need blow, and I need a cocktail. And apart from minor logistics, “…this should present no significant problems.” Trainspotting. Dir. Danny Boyle, Per. Ewan McGregor, Johnny Lee Miller. 1996. PolyGram Filmed Entertainment Miramax Films (United States), 1998. Videocassette
This part video poker part hot pocket hang out reflects grating fluorescent lights off cigarette-stained countertops and rusty shelves. I complete my scan and devise a plan: kiwi lime Mad Dog through straws from paper cups. However, before I gather sundries, I use the restroom to empty my bladder and collect my thoughts.
A man is walking out as I enter. I splash my face with cold water and give myself a barely audible pep talk (a series of two grunts with a questioning inflection). I dry my face as I walk into the stall, which is relatively clean. An exhale leaves me: I am relaxed. I fish a gram of cocaine from a makeshift pocket I cut into the zipper flap of my green cargo shorts (God is good! – It is fluffy and dry). I twist off her wings and empty a dime size serving into my left hand’s biological snuffbox. My right hand deftly re-twists the baggy and returns the package from whence it came. I press my right thumb to my right nostril and form an airtight seal: a fierce inhale through my left nostril follows. My eyes glaze, my body goose bumps, and exit the stall and restroom.
The “Smart” is now empty – except for the lone employee behind the counter. (His appearance and demeanor are an amalgam of every convenience mart clerk – ever). The clerk is languorous and gobsmacked by the crepuscular brilliance of the setting sun. He looks poetic and peaceful, and a part of me hopes his trance is broken before I arrive at the counter. (I am envious of his peaceful gaze. It is tranquil and beautiful: it seems to stop time, like an orchestra of melodious crickets lulling a full plate moon to sleep). I stuff my cargo pockets with the following items: two bags of Jack Link’s beef jerky, two 12 oz. paper cups, two lids and straws, and two bananas. Lastly, I grab two bottles of kiwi-lime Mad Dog and carry them to the checkout counter.
As I empty my pockets on the counter I say, “That is the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen.”
Without breaking his stare he says, “Yeah, I am pretty sure it’s why I keep this job.”
I say, “A better reason than most; if that is not proof of a higher power type entity, I don’t know what is?”
“Amen,” he says.
I say, “I’ll take these items here, a pack of Camel’s, and $30 on pump two. By the way – I didn’t want to interrupt the sunset – do you mind if I grab these cups, lids, and straws. If you have to charge me I understand.” I hand him cash while he answers.
He says, “Aaaaaa…they’re on the house, from one sunset admirer to another.”
“Well thank you kind sir, much appreciated.” I say.
As he brown bags the order, I say, “Oh…one last thing…about how many miles outside Vegas are we?”
In an almost automated response he says, “A hair north of 26 miles.”