Excerpt from Leaving New York by Tony Dunlap:
“As they moved north to begin Jacob’s ghastly “witness” tour, numbness took hold of Tommy. Time ceased its feeling. The neat division of days, the predictable emotional chart of the week—the excitement of Fridays and Saturdays, the melancholy of Sundays and Mondays, the neutral arc of Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays—collapsed into sameness. The night no longer felt separate from the daytime, just a continuation of a blank temporal plane, much like the Texas landscape they drove through, an expanse of flatlands and desert, civilization hiding, nothing to see except the occasional batch of oil rigs and desolate towns. The car became less a mode of transport and more a lifeline to the familiar, to sanity. They drove constantly yet seemed to get nowhere, on and on, and on and on. And so they drifted . . .
. . . and drifted . . .
. . . drifting along Highway 90, bypassing Houston completely, as Tommy and Eric alternated driving duties, talking little, Jacob losing himself in his iPod, his white ear buds occasionally falling out, stopping for gas and food at rests stops . . .
. . . drifting onto Highway 45, passing through places called The Woodlands, Conroe, Willis . . . cutting through a patch of Sam Houston National Forest—finally some greenery!—then plunging back again into the barrenness, unceasing, relentless, the sun boiling the car in daytime, the air conditioner blasted “high, the nighttime dropping into sudden cold . . . hours and hours of silence, fiddling with the radio, trying to find a decent radio station, avoiding the country music and religious programming that predominated, listening to Eric’s iPod on occasion, giving him a needed dose of rap music, jiving to the Wu-Tang Clan, followed by the endless, endless, endless strains of “November Rain” by Gun’s’Roses . . .
. . . drifting by several more towns, including several “-villes”: Huntsville, Madisonville, Centerville—stopping, as always, for more food and gas, Eric calling his karaoke bar back in Portland, getting updates on how business was faring in his absence, agreeing with his manager to make this or that purchase, allowing such and such a person to be hired, one to be fired, yelling when he heard that his accountant hadn’t completed his taxes on time and he would have to pay for an extension, the delivery of an important piece of equipment that had been delayed . . .
. . . drifting further, everyone sleeping heavily at night in a bland motel, waking up early, awkwardly lingering around the “cramped room, watching TV while one or the other of them showered (the only real privacy any of them got was in the bathroom), all conversation between them exhausted, their laundry bulging in their bags, their supply of clean clothes dwindling, their hair getting longer, no barber shops in sight, their nerves jangling, close to fraying . . .
. . . drifting, inching more like it, towards Dallas . . .”
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