"You can't smoke those in this car, you know," I said. "It's a rental."
"I'm not going to smoke in the car, baby, and you know me. This one is the only one I'm going to want for another month. It's nerves, is all."
I sat beside her. "Got road jitters already? We haven't even loaded the car up yet."
She shrugged. "Doesn't matter. I always get a little out of sorts before long trips. Something about leaving the comfort of the familiar for the uncertainty of the new."
"Yeah, Muse? You're a freak. Road trips are fun. The whole point of going on a road trip is to see new things and think new thoughts. I don't want to have to get you drunk before we leave town, but I will if that'll chill you out a bit."
She held her hand to me, palm up, revealing two hard lemonade bottle caps. "I already started. I didn't think you'd mind me hitting your stash, all things considered."
"If it'll make you docile and floppy, you can drink the entire case. However, in addition to the no smoking in the car rule, there is also a staunch 'no puking' clause as well. You puke it, you scoop it."
She made a puckered face. "Okay, stop talking about that one now, please. I wasn't planning on barfing in the rental car. Which, by the way, is awfully, awfully blue."
I looked at the car, shiny and new, the paint a deep and rich blue. I'd gotten a compact car, a Ford Focus, because I figured that it would be easier on the gas than a larger car, and for a planned three thousand mile drive, every little bit of economy of mileage would help. "Once we hit the midwest, it'll be brown and bug-splattered. Better take a picture of the thing before we go, because it's not going to look like that again while we have it."
The Muse opened her backpack and took out her digital camera, made a quick snap of the car. "You're bringing your laptop, right?" she asked. I nodded. "Good. I want to burn these pictures off as we go. I think I'm going to have a lot of them before we get home."
"I think I'll leave most of the documenting to you then. I'm going for the mental powder break, and if I try to be too artsy, I'm not going to get any recharging done at all."
"Big talk, little man, since you're bringing your computer along."
"Well, I have to write, you know. I mean, I'm not going into outer space or anything. I don't want to totally shut my brain down."
"Good deal. I don't want to need to do a cold reboot of you once we get home."
I took her cigarette from her and pulled a drag from it. "You seem to think there's a chance we're not coming back."
She took the clove from me. "We're not going to talk about that today. Save it for the end of the week, when we really have to decide what we're doing with ourselves." She snubbed the smoke out into one of the bottle caps. "These things will kill you. Don't smoke them."
"I did bring my passport, however, just in case we head south and decide to keep going. Butch and Sundance might have made it a little longer in Bolivia if they'd of had passports."
"Well, I think the life of crime might have contributed to their end just a little bit there."
The Muse got to her feet and brushed the dirt from the seat of her jeans. "I hear Butch might have made it out alive, actually. History may have to be rewritten."
"We might make it out alive yet, too, Muse." I stood and grabbed her bags, planning on putting them in the car. "Definitely keep the passport handy, however. One must always be prepared."
She mock-saluted me. "Yes sir, scout master."
"Knock that crap off and go get our munchies from the kitchen," I said. "Unless you've eaten them all already."
"Just the Fiddle-Faddle. I love Fiddle-Faddle."
"You'd better have some dental floss in one of these bags."
"Six rolls of it," she said.
"Six?" I asked. "Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?"
She smacked me on the rump. "Put that junk in the car, smartass. I'll get the stuff from the kitchen."
"There's some celery in the crisper. All that floss, we might as well put it to use." I started toward the car.
"I'm going to bring some of your canned goods, too. There's more than enough floss to tie you up, and the cans will help weigh you down for when I toss you in the Cuyahoga River."
"Always thinking, Muse!" I shouted over my shoulder. "You'll go far in this world."
"Maybe all the way to Bolivia," she yelled back, and then went inside to gather our supplies.