I was enjoying this disastrous break with that permanent fixture and dog lead that is time. Studies and essays and the apology for early adult life were somewhere back in the tyre tracks, veiled with rain and pinned into the retrograde grey cityscape. My beloved, remote intelligentsia were propping up bars, flexing angle poise lamps and scribbling, they were drinking a fourteenth cup of coffee, watching pavement patterns and reading dull books. I was a passenger in a speeding car in a new conversation famine but I still could see them..
Claudia was lying on Ernesto’s bed, close to an exaggerated embryonic position in the dusky room. Eyes everywhere, looking for clues. His things were scattered around and she breathed in the remaining atoms of some testosterone cocktail that she sensed was hanging in the air. Each intake was like a sweet addictive overdose, each one an experience of something that she’d never admit to. She had rummaged in drawers and cupboards looking for tags and traces. She has found glossy pornography and tattered novels, penknives and family photographs, bills and receipts, coins and broken cigarette lighters. She settled for the pornography and thumbed across the tanned and shaven pages sensing more and less of him and some wild cloud of past appetites and sexuality. As the raindrops beat the time’s dry passage onto the wet window sill she slept but could find no dream. When she awoke he was still gone.
We are racking up ruthless smooth miles, dark towns and villages, road numbers and green signs, truckstops and the flotsam of traffic and animals pass by. We follow some vehicle for a while, a speeding taxi or empty truck, some other sports car or a white minibus cranked up to it’s limit. One by one they leave the road, turn right or left, are overtaken or just disappear backwards into their own lives and journeys. We however pursue the straightest and most direct road while those others, the non explorers peel away. The trip counter says 425 miles and we are running low on fuel.
The crumbling petrol station is glistening like a forgotten Christmas tree, the petals and balls and coloured masks reflect in the shop window festooned with adverts and notices. The pump sucks some life back into the car and pushes the needle back from E to F, back down the alphabet lined road. We buy sugary drinks that look to be doctored, suspicious, we pucker up and drink through straws and much chocolate that has escaped from silver paper. At the till nobody bothers with eye contact or talk, this night time rendezvous has no witnesses to it’s business. The CCTV captures images but fails to record, a habit that the local police have also acquired.
Claudia rubs her eyes, sits up and falls back on the bed unsure how much time has passed. Ernesto has flown like a ghost and the debris around her is all his fault. Seedy magazines and trash, she feels spiteful, remorseful, angry and frustrated. The coffee will help.