• Vol. 01
  • Chapter 06
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When You Don’t Wanna Go Straight

I just kept going and going and going until, finally, when it looked like we'd lost them, when it looked like we couldn't see nothing but dirt and blue skies, I pulled the truck over to the side of the road, and waited.

The girl is asleep, her face planted against the window, her mouth a little open, stuck against the hot glass. I dunno how she’s asleep. The ride hadn't been smooth – skirting between city streets and lights, then taking any left or right turn 'cause going straight wasn't an option, was never an option. When we hit this highway I just stayed put. I figured I'd thrown them off scent.

The girl makes a little noise and yawns. Her shoulders shake, and I think she's going to wake up, but all she does is turn her back to the window so she's facing me, so her hair is caught on one side of her shoulder and the straps on her vest are twisted.

Yeah, I'll say it. I didn't know what to do with her. Dump her there? Carry on driving? For how long? And where? I didn't even know where I was headed.

I get out of the car and walk along the desert's sandy carpet, s'if I was walking along Mars.

When I reach the post, I wonder why it made me pull over. What was it here for? A sign? Someone setting an example? Someone saying: this can, right here, that’s your future.

“Do you hear that?”

I jump, turn around. The girl stands behind me, her eyes on the can. I finger the gun in my back pocket and try to think. The girl moves forward.

“Seriously, do you hear that? Listen.”

Her voice is young and crisp and Californian. She comes right up next to me and her hair shadows both sides of her face. It’s ratty, caught in knots, like she’s been travelling for days. I guess maybe we have.

“I think it’s trying to get out,” she says.

I look at the can but I don’t hear anything. Then she flicks it with her finger and it makes a dull ping and rattles like a stony tornado caught inside.

She pulls the can off the post and sticks a finger inside one of the bullet holes, pulls apart the metal until it’s splayed apart like broken ribs, then gasps and drops the can. It rolls down the dune, rolling and rolling until it slows and stops and something crawls out – a lizard, the same colour of the sand.

The girl looks back at me, and despite the heat and where we are and the gun in my back pocket, I feel myself go red.


When You Don’t Wanna Go Straight

“You gonna shoot me now, or should I get back in the car?”

My eyes follow the lizard until its trail becomes one with the sand, and I tell her to get back in the car.