ten am, swamped in sweat, we left for california. car packed to its outer limits; every window blocked, mirrors visible only if squinting. the first day we drove 800 miles through
san antionio: psychotic heat, concrete bleached past any recognizable shade of white. when we arrived at tom’s house, his dad stood from his lawn chair, waved, then resumed his seat beneath what appeared to be a palm tree. a tortoise crawled out, blinked. when i parked my car on the curb, tom rushed over no no no neighborhood patrol. i moved my car. tom’s dad handed me a spaten: yeah, the neighborhood's nothing if not up my ass about parking and shoes on the stoop. i finished my beer. single swig. removed my shoes and placed them on the stoop next to the tangle of leather loafers, burned-out tevas. inside: the most pristine carpet, hard-wood. tom’s dad handed me another spaten: sorry i don’t have anything harder. out back--tom gave us a tour of his turtles, tortoises, and snakes; his knowledge of each species, as well as reptiles in general, impressed. while i watched the red-footed tortoise sleep, tom fired the grill. filet mignon. wine spilt across a tartan table cloth. after cutting his steak into three equally proportioned pieces, tom’s dad recounted his days in southern
when the dew burned off the grass, we drove to
the drive to flagstaff passed without incident. earth carved up, crazed red, etc. i snapped splotchy pictures through the windshield, did not speed. smoked cigarettes through my teeth. after the last night in the last hotel, we left for LA starry-eyed and laughing. thirty miles from the border, i received the most inane, over-priced, totally illegal traffic ticket of my life. at the fruits and agriculture check-point, a man in tethered twills confiscated my prunes. three hours later, we arrived at our new apartment, unloaded the car, split a speedway stout, burned out.