My wife finds us down in South Texas. Luckily, I’m out at a rig when she storms into town and messes up the home office. The woman I’m living with has us packed and the van loaded by the time I hit town. I never see my wife, which is just as well, since she’s promised to kill us both.
Late afternoon at the edge of somewhere Tennessee. The woman is driving and I’m eating a bag of greasy chips, both of us worn out. We speed around a curve and a large brown dog runs at us from a yard on the right. A loud thump at the front bumper. I scrunch down, look in my rearview. The dog is on its side, stiff-legged, spinning clockwise a foot off the ground.
The woman eases up, glances at me.
I smear my fingers on my jeans. “Keep going,” I say. “Nothing we can do.”
Up in Marcellus country, they say you can light water as it flows from the tap. That’s the first thing I try in our dismal little apartment. The water does smell vaguely of petroleum but it won’t catch fire.
We’re hardly unpacked when a skip tracer finds us. How do they do that? So we’re back on the road, headed south again, our world suddenly as porous as ever. I start to consider how I might talk Ellis into hiding us back in the woods in one of his old trailers.
Barry Basden lives in the Texas hill country with his wife and two yellow Labs. He is coauthor of Crack! and Thump: With a Combat Infantry Officer in World War II. His shorter work has been published widely, both online and in print. His latest flash collection is Wince.