Lacking maps, Lenore relied on directions from locals. In the way of such things, she misinterpreted a gesture at Huehuetenango, ended up way off the pavement somewhere in El Quiché, and eventually stopped them for the night in the middle of the ruins of Q'uma'rka'aaj. Then there were long days driving slow over the worst roads either of them had ever seen, Lenore straddling ridges of ruts with the tires to save the low citybred van's oil pan and exhaust. There followed intervals of snarls and jams as endless herds of unkempt goats sashayed down the middle of what passed for a road. Then torrents of rain. Finally real pavement again for a while. Then more dirt track.

Milo remembered the alebrijes he had bought in Oaxaca. He found them in his pack and propped one on the dashboard to give it a homier look. He gave the other to Armand, who inside of fifteen seconds broke the head off. Milo had disliked the alebrije, but he disliked Armand more, partly because of Armand's innate, and to Milo, utterly enviable, gift for sleeping like the dead from supper until 4:30 am. This only left Milo and Lenore two hours' rest a night, after they'd done exploring each other's bodies in the wide-eyed sanctity of their shared high.

If it wasn't tequila it was grass, if it wasn't grass it was psilopcybin mushrooms, if it wasn't mushrooms it was peyote and sangria, if it wasn't peyote and sangria it was cheap cough syrup and tequila; before, during and after the kind of sex that the authors of the Kama Sutra would have envied, especially the chapters where Callie appeared to make things even bluer. As far as Milo could tell, Lenore had no awareness of Callie's existence, no clue that it was a threesome. Callie seemed to talk to him alone, although Lenore felt her.

Breakfast was whatever they hadn't eaten the night before -- mostly beans and rice. Milo would chase it with a Red Stripe or Dos Equiis beer, measured at careful intervals to keep his black Djinn bottled, while saving the remainder of their bit of pooled cash for other essentials.

So their days went, from El Palacio to Sanarate to Quetzaltepeque, and eventually from Guatemala into El Salvador and through the southwestern corner of Honduras. Beyond, through Nicaragua, Costa Rica and into Panama. Each time they hit a border post, they were waved through with no mention of passports, nor any greasy, liplicking references to Yanqui dinero.

Each time, if Milo cocked his ear it seemed to him that he could hear a disappearing echo, the telltale putt-putt of a small motor in the distance. Sometimes he sniffed remnants of four-stroke exhaust, burnt a little rich, drifting past his flared nostrils on damp jungle air.

Whenever they stopped to buy gas, steal fruit, or to stock up on libations for the night, Milo had begun to keep a furtive watch for red scooters. Lenore would always head to the adobe taverna that -- inevitably -- was within a stone's throw of the gas station's rusting hand pumps. This time she tarried longer than usual, so Milo had bought some corn chips to share with Armand. When he looked up, Lenore was near-dancing back across the road toward them, clutching the slender neck of a large unlabelled bottle of clear liquid in each of her small fists.

"Go buy some jello, and some juice or something. And some ice!"

Lenore wore a slightly deranged look. Obviously, she'd had at least a couple of shots of something in the taverna already. Milo headed back to the gas station, which happened to double as a sort of convenience store/tortilla stand. Ten minutes later he reappeared with concentrated lime juice, a box of plain gelatin, a bag of sugar, five pounds of ice and some licorice rope for Armand.

"What gives?" he asked.

"I remembered a drink we made one time at university," she said in a suddenly perky voice, winking at Milo. He knew that look now. It always boded a higher benchmark in his relationship with Lenore.