With the evening's festivities now simmering with the fading embers of the bonfire, Joe deftly stole Casey's arm and led her away from the campsite and back toward the road. In the shadow of the van, silhouetted in moonlight, they shared a cigarette and debated the oddness of finding themselves in Texas.
"I don't think we should stay long," Casey relented.
"I agree with you. This place already reminds of me of Utah."
"Did you know less than five years ago, it was still legal to arrest homosexuals here?"
"Don't worry," Joe said shaking his head. "We're bound to find a blue state sooner or later -- the black man did win the presidency, didn't he?"
Casey shrugged. "Well, for better or worse, here we are."
"Story time?" Joe offered with a grin, holding up a die between his forefinger and thumb.
"I'm tired, Joe--"
"Just a rant, then."
Casey sighed and relented, her exhaustion evident in her big brown eyes. She leaned against the van, inhaled the last drag from the smoke, then cast it to the dirt.
"I read an article the other day. For the however-many-eth year in a row, public speaking has been rated the number one phobia among Americans between the ages of consent and Social Security. Death - that is, of course, permanent termination of all biological functions - still rates second. The whole thing baffles me, really. And it's because I don't understand how someone could be afraid to stand up and speak in front of others - or that I don't get why people are afraid to die - but these are not the scariest things I can think of, not by a long shot.
Have you ever been sitting in your car? Sure you have. Of course you have. You're sitting there -- you could be stuck in traffic and waiting for the light to change, or you're sitting next to the big speakerbox at the drive-thru, or you're just... driving -- and you can hear and and see and maybe in the summer when it's nice and your windows are down you can smell... all of these things going on around you, outside of your car and outside of you.
It's panic-inducing, don't you think? Like you're struck with this sensation that you have somewhere to be, or that you're just not supposed to be there, at least. It happens to me a lot when I'm sitting in my car.
Not always, though. Sometimes I get like that when I'm trying to fall asleep, or when I'm standing in the shower just spacing out to the drone of water against linoleum, or whatever, really. Sometimes I just feel that... pull, that tug, that's telling me... you know...
Get the fuck out. Run. Go.
Don't look at me like that.
Casey paused to give Joe a level-eyed stare. He shifted his weight between his feet and waited for her to continue.
It's not like I feel that way all the time or anything.
Another awkward pause, replete with a score by the local fauna.
Forget it, Joe. Just pretend I never said anything.