Puddles still lie, idly reflecting blue skies and turning silver when the sun hits them just so. A new former river blocks our road, the yellow line dissolving downwards into the murk. We can't cross that, it runs fierce. Hyundai can't cross Ford. Out in the farmland, where the road signs are threaded with bullet holes, jet crows feed on jet cows dead by the roadside with sharp jet beaks. They flap idly away with ancient wing beats with each passing car, to quickly return a moment later.
The landscape is featureless and empty, again. Green grass and ghost towns, always dead petrol stations- always. Old adverts fading away on the wooden boards, Coca Cola still recognisable. An old warehouse is surrounded by rainwater, rusted barrels scattered inside, walls, window and roof collapsing down but still standing, still in essence a building. Forgotten places, driven past and barely remembered, forgotten lives of the deceased, dying and decaying, forgotten in some other place, or still inside, in an old pale oak rocking chair, blanketed and forgotten. A rotting skeleton rotting in the summerstorm winds as they roll across the empty countryside.
All the way to Carlsbad Caverns, but no stop. We must get on to Ozona, where the feral cats scrawny roam beneath the orange lamplight, living off the Subway scraps where the staff keep an earphone in. I can emphasise.
Cable television is a freakshow, right wing horrorshow anti-everythings, documentaries on any family that twists the chemistry of the nuclear unit- midgets or multiple children or female police officers or tattoo artists or cheaters or bounty hunters or loggers or truckers or fishermen. Any occupation deserves a series. Bass rattles the air by Sonic in Pecos as a red pickup truck pulls up. Then a cacophony of a train horn changing tone as it changes town echoes the muggy summer soup. I drink my strawberry milkshake, slurping, i think of you across an ocean curled under a duvet not experiencing this moment and I am bittersweet.
And now a man has slipped his hand inside my T shirt and he's stroking my supple love handles, whispering "Sooo sexy" into my fearful ears. I have no idea what I'm supposed to do. My British heart is fearful of confrontation so I sit rigid and pretend it isn't happening, hoping it will go away, move off, forget. This is what too many jello shots do to a man, lascivious and lusty. Tom tells me to release the right pheromones, project my girlfriend out of every pore. We stare at the label on the bottle of beer, two guys wishing we were somewhere else, with a girl or our friends or something, swigging and not in this awkward moment, sweating and damp in this desert heat, spurning and away from this man whose leering affections can never be returned because i just don't lean that way and i just can't lean that way. It's always good to be wanted. Maybe me and the drunk floppy fringed Mexican have a future together, a happy home, an adopted boy called Alex we can bring up together, me the housewife baking, him the office worker, or the builder, or the CEO. One can but dream of domestic bliss.
Never have I seen so many stereotypes in one place- skin tight V neck T-shirts, fabulous hair and glitter, shaven headed overweight dykes, bewigged and bedressed transsexuals and transvestites. They all have to start somewhere, the cliches ticked off like an I-Spy book. A surreptitious slide by, icy wet glass nudging my arm while a hand grasps my buttocks for half a second. I feel so abused. Somehow I harness my dark place and sing karaoke. I toast Ian and drop the F bomb loose and low. In another life I was a garage MC, but I missed the MJ Cole, Artful Dodger, DJ Luck and MC Neat boat. I am loving it like that.
On a road trip we hunt for giant things- the giant strawberry at Poteet, the giant cowboys at Northpoint Mall; the heart of America is giant. Independence is valued like a gold locket. They still talk of secession and fear central government like a betrodden peasant feared God, and witches, and science. Oil and natural resources and land. They don't need anyone. Don't mess with Texas.