Let the nausea begin...

Milo watched Lenore with one eye, and tried to keep the other on Armand in one of the convex rear view mirrors. No small trick, the way the van was bucketing, almost out of control, in ragged half-rhythm with Lenore's sobs and shouts.

She seemed to be wailing in tongues. Her eyes were rimmed bright red, her teeth were bared, and she appeared intent on driving down the thinning cloud of red dust on the road ahead, where Molina must have gone.

Milo feared what would happen if she caught up to the greasy Levantine. He was half-betting on a new grille for the van. Honda-shaped. And something unattractive and gooey on the windshield for the squeegee boy to deal with at the next gas stop...

He felt sick after the rich greasy breakfast. Their first American-style eats in weeks, and his stomach roiled. But he was beginning to sense that the nausea went deeper. And that he might be responsible. He took another quick mental peek at that long-avoided idea, cracking open for the first time the Rolodex of his life since that fateful night in Chicago.

It was like staring down into a horrifyingly deep abyss. Okay, maybe the flipcard cartoon version of a deep abyss, but still horrifying. He tried to reject it, but was held in thrall by the sickening seduction of great height. He had to examine it further.


Milo had no sane idea what was going on in Lenore's mind right then, but he had an inkling that wherever her current stream of thought led, it was going to be all his fault.

He closed his eyes against the vertigo of the idea, and of Lenore's driving. Somewhere, he thought he heard Furlonger laughing a ghostly laugh. Worse yet, invisible brujas were firing up a Tex-Mex mariachi version of something that sounded like the Hallelujah Chorus. He felt desperate.

Milo came to a decision. His eyes flew open.

"Fuck it!" he said. "Where's the goddam mescal?

It was then that he noticed that the bottle, open and three-quarters-drunk, was clamped tightly between Lenore's golden thighs. As he stared at her, she took another huge, desperate swig, as if to ward off demons. Probably bruja-shaped. Never taking her too-bright eyes off the road.

In that moment, he understood her wailing...

And he was glumly, savagely certain it was his fault. All of it. Absolutely. Irrevocably. Eternally.