The engine of a stolen car looking like a grin expelling flames and fumes from its grillwork, the spires of smoke obscuring my vision and driving me mad, my brain jolted roughly and matter flapping around as if flayed. The gloom of the night, the sulfurous night, the night unfolding like a hellish enterprise. I felt like an anchorite; a hermit; a newly risen Lazarus driving a jalopy under flares of soundless lightning, weighed down by my flagging sanity. I yearned to spill blood. I couldn’t do that just yet. The con artist in me needed resurrection. The Fire in me needed a kindle. I am to become a mutinous necromancer, the stuff of chimerical nightmares whose landscape seizes the purity of the soul and wipes it clean as if you were a slave. I turned the car out onto a cradled byway road behind a general store with moaning eaves. I parked behind in a dark lot and stirred inside. I swigged a draught of whiskey and clamped the lid and stepped out carefully. I swung my head left and right, my eyes bulging with excitement and unrighteous ingenuity.
Then I woke up. Windy Gorge, North Carolina was now clearly in our sights. The cruiser was at a stop just outside the town’s boundary line and Benny was lazily puffing on a Newport cigarette, his methylated face obscure beneath a shadow realm of smoke.
“How long I been out?”
“About twenty minutes, thereabouts.”
I was still lying supine in the cruiser’s passenger seat but sat myself up, pulled on the side lever, felt the back of the seat nearly crush my spine, and stepped out of the car to breathe in smooth mountain air and take in the frenzied sight of unblemished trunks of trees pillowing in the hinterland.