Inside.

I made 830 miles in one shot, after getting almost no sleep in a rest area an hour south of Needles.  Seeing a tall palm standing still in the heat from upside down is inspiring by itself, let alone the dead things halved on the road and the mirage that keeps pushing you back the closer you get to it.  Once it goes away with the mountains, you check the time and the placement of the Sun.  My dog, Chico, watches the road while I blast my music, a mix of everything but this morning it’s Poison Idea.  I find a cafe and eat, watch the old skin of my waitress.  The coffee is weak but it should be.  Nobody under the age of 70 is in here.  I almost feel guilty for being 40.  I listen for awhile, check my phone and make my 800 plus mile shot, where I find myself in a bar with my niece.  We close the bar, and I wake up in a room, then I’m on the road another 6 hours.  Then I get some real sleep.

…I am going over a book I wrote called Flotsam for Jetsam. It’s an anti-novel, really, a writing teacher’s worst nightmare, but that’s its beat, its pulse beneath what it became on its own.  I just wrote it out as it barreled through.   Here’s another small piece.

***

We are bound by nothing for a considerable amount of time.  Two good Irishmen lie dead in one of several parts unidentifiable in the wake of our second pilgrimage west, laid to death with their families, and their money rides with me hidden like their bones.  My wife deserves to know the truth.  But I don’t want the secret to weigh her down, or to sway her thoughts of me, from fondly in love to criminal.  The guilt eats at me.  We drive silently for miles, each of us pondering the future.  We decide not to eat until the first town inside of Illinois, which is Chicago.  We’re wired on coffee and words.  I buy a straw cowboy hat when we stop for a bathroom.  Mirrored sunglasses grip my impulses at the counter.  She sees me in the hat and shades and runs her tongue up my sideburn.  The wind is warm and humid and our tongues work over each other there in the field by the station while Lucy runs after a small animal.  I’m thinking about flipping some Franklins in the casinos off the 40, lose five or ten on the C-note to get the clean bills back for an alibi, but I remember the bills are washed already, and the only alibi to clear my conscience will be the truth to my wife.  Not like I was a real criminal.  I ran deliveries on a courier capacity.  Big fucking deal. And the 125 large, if turned over to the cops would have been corruptly distributed.  At least we were going to start a life with it.  I’d already decided to quit Dave’s when we were in Vegas, back before the walls came down, before the curtains closed on them like satin.

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About Jeff Stewart

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