I glanced at her from the driver's seat. She was riding shotgun, with her window down and her seat scooted back far enough for her to put her bare feet up against the dash. The day had been too hot for driving without the air conditioning running, at least until the sun had gone down an hour or so ago. Since then, we'd been cooled by the night air rushing in. Her hair was in a pony tail, but even gathered so it whipped in the wind around the sides of her face. She pulled a strand from her mouth and said, "Like that sign back there for Cleveland. We just passed it. And what's playing right now? Ryan Adams, 'Oh My Sweet Carolina.' And what lyric was he just singing? 'So I went on to Cleveland and I ended up insane.' Cleveland."
"We're not going to Cleveland," I said. "And you're already insane, so I don't know what the problem would be even if we did."
"Shut it," she said. "Now, by itself, that's not too strange, but back a ways? We went on a bridge over a river. What was the river? The Cuyahoga. What was on the stereo? Randy Newman, 'Burn On.' What's the lyric? 'There's a red moon rising on the Cuyahoga River.' Now, never mind that there is a red moon rising, but for that to happen just as we passed over the river? Don't you find that the slightest bit odd?"
I changed lanes to pass a car towing a small boat. "We also heard The Eagles doing 'Take it Easy,' and I sincerely doubt that we're going to end up in Winslow, Arizona."
"But if we did go to Winslow, Arizona," the Muse said, "I'm positive that we'd hear that song just as we went into the town limits."
"You're not creeping me out, if that's what you're trying to do."
"Hey, I'm not trying to." She slid her feet off the dash and leaned forward, stretching against the seat belt. "As far as I'm concerned, this is just one of those little weird things that further convinces me that the entire world is just a construct in my head, and that I'm probably in an insane asylum imagining everything around me."
"If you imagined me, Muse, you could have made me just a little bit cuter, or at least given me some amazing pectoral muscles."
"Well, I did a pretty good job with your wiener, didn't I?"
"You've barely seen my wiener," I said, and moved the car back into the right lane. "Thanks though. I'm rather attached to it."
"You're welcome. I do some of my best work when I'm locked in an asylum. It's the padded walls, I think. So relaxing." She tilted her seat back and reached into the back for one of the pillows we'd brought with us. "I'm going to take a little nap, I think. Wake me up the next time you stop for gas, so I can go pee, okay? If I can't puke in the rental car, I'm pretty sure I shouldn't pee in it, either."
"I bought extra insurance just for that," I said. "You've got a bladder the size of a pea, so I figured it was a safe bet."
She patted me on the arm. "You're such a dear. Now shut up and drive. I need some rest if I'm going to stay awake later and keep you company."
"Nice to have you along, you lazy whore," I said. "Even if you don't drive."
She rested her head on the pillow and faced me. "You, stop talking. Me, I'm sleeping. Don't run off the road while I'm not watching. I'd hate to miss it."
"I promise not to crash unless you're awake. I don't want you to miss out on a moment of fun and breaking glass." I looked out the window to my right, where the fat red moon was slowly creeping its way up into the sky. That's the sort of moon serial killers would set their watches by, I thought. If I'd have been writing something about it, I would have said that it was the same sort of moon that hung over the city when I was a boy in San Francisco, when the Night Stalker was working his way up the state, slicing and raping as he went. I don't know what the moon looked like then, though. Teenage boys in the city rarely think to look up. A thought came to me suddenly, and I said to the Muse, "If you're imagining me, Muse, and you die, what happens to me?"
There was no answer. She was asleep.