The early morning air is wet and cool, but still evidence, even at night, that it is June. There is no escaping the feeling of a Georgia summer night. The air drops in temperature from a ludicrous heat of hours passed, lingering absentmindedly around seventy-eight or so because the heat has nothing better to do—the boredom of humidity. At night the air isn’t sticky like it is during the day, just a soft and wet, damp blanket; protection from the fire too late. Travis stands watching all the silent parked cars in front of the apartments and thinks about all the people sleeping—tries to imagine his neighbors’ faces as they lay comfortably in their beds. They will be getting up to begin their days only as he goes to bed, too exhausted to dream anymore. The front door opens behind him and John steps out, turning to lock the bolt.

“Maybe I should leave it open for Nick.”

Travis looks confused for a moment, turning to face John. “He lives here. He’s got a key.”

“But what if he lost it?”

Travis has no reply.

“It’ll be easier for him to get in anyway.”

“It’ll be easier for a burglar to get in, too.”

John shrugs, “So?” implying that they have nothing for anyone to steal—which isn’t entirely true. They have their equipment: guitars, basses, amplifiers, effects pedals, and of course, extensive music collections. They just feign being Brahm’s poor musicians for the sake of proximity to legend and cliché, as though they might jinx their musical progress by admitting to some material comfort. But then, Travis knows John is arguing for the sake of arguing—kidding around—looking for a joke—and John locks the door as Travis meanders off toward the Thunderchicken. They get in the car—a navy blue thunderbird; a wide, low-slung, two-door machine built in the late eighties. It has a V-8 engine that John is fond of abusing.

John slams his foot on the gas. He backs the car out of the parking spot at twenty miles an hour, and swings the Thunderchicken around in a tight arc that makes Travis lean, catch himself on the oh-shit handle, and struggle against maybe two and a half gees just to reach for his seatbelt. Shifting the automatic transmission from reverse to overdrive, John guns the engine a second time and the car peels out of the parking lot. “It’s three-thirty in the morning,” Travis says matter-of-factly. John replies by rolling down his window and screaming into the parking lot, “I hate you all, pigfuckeeeers!” Laughing in spite of his disapproval, Travis rolls down his own window to let in some of the moist, cool night air.

“Give me a cigarette,” John says, swinging the car around a corner fast enough to make it fishtail.

“In a minute,” Travis offers.

A silent moment passes as the pair pull out onto Baxter Street—the road almost empty. Black gas stations, convenience stores and strip malls sit along its length. In the distance, a pair of headlights shows faintly five hundred yards off.

“Gi’me a cigarette!”

“In a minute.”

“Gi’me a cigarette.”

“In a minute.”


“Shut up your face. You’re fat.”