In the winter, we’d speed over the lake, its frozen surface supporting the weight of the car, our bodies and the jars in the trunk. But it’s autumn, so we’re left with no choice but to take the winding roads that twist and curl the same way your hair does when the window is down. Coiled and golden by sun and wind.
There was a time, not so long ago, when I lied to you endlessly and joyfully about who I was and what I did. It was a game at first, but I found myself searching you out more than I’d expected to. Save for my endgame— to make as much money as I can now so I can just vanish from the world for the rest of my life, I kept up the lies for appearances. Eventually, of course, you saw around them. I never apologized, but you don’t seem to care.
The Revenuers must be on a different mountain… but we don’t take any chances.
We spend the night in an old Antebellum mansion. Here on these back roads time stands still, life the same as it was 25, 50 or even a 100 years ago. The plantation hasn’t seen life in ages outside of us. We sleep on straw-filled mats I keep in the back seat, pressed flat from the crates of mason jars. The dusty, dark wooden floors creak as we settle in, and we share visions of ghostly billowing curtains over the tall broken windows and glimmering crystal chandeliers.
You’ve snagged a mason jar from the back seat, but I let it slide: I only have one scratchy woolen blanket to keep us warm and the liquor in the jar will help out.
Normally I’d drive all night, but you’re sleepy and on edge and I feel like we need this.
You take a sip from the jar and wince, then take another. We pass it back and forth, letting it heat our innards.
The smell of burning, wet leaves hits my nose and you say something about a fire.
It’ll bring moths and cops, I say.
You shrug, liking the danger. This is why you never cared that I lied.
That night I dream that we’re in Mexico, though I’ve never been and have no idea if their beaches are white sand or not. I sit on the shore and watch you bob in the waves, well past the safe breakpoint. I realize then, even if we were retired, you’d still taunt death… you like the way it feels. You like that feeling of ol’ Charon looking over your shoulder cause without it, how would you know if you were living?
When I come to, it’s still night. I reach out to see if you’re there, or if you’re dancing in the late moon that’s risen. I’d caught you doing that once. Prancing all Pagan in nothing but my workshirt, grinning like I’d caught you stealing pie from a windowsill. But tonight, you’re still on your mat, curled under the blanket into a ball. I wake you by tripping over the empty mason jar as I stand.
I tell you I want you to see the moon, but we both know I want to get back behind the wheel.
From the distant hills, no one will see us, blazing down the road with our headlights turned off— but for us, the moon shines the way, giving us a perfect view of the road south.
Seth M. Sherwood is a writer, filmmaker and graphic artist living in Los Angeles. His neo-noir screenplay The Heavy placed in the quarterfinals of the 2010 Nicholl Fellowship Competition