The intricate streets of San Francisco left behind, the Mustang slid through the Sierra foothills with quiet authority––its engine a continuous rumble, an insistent request for acceleration. The muscle car had at first seemed a relic of a bygone era, an overcharged cough under predatory hood. Now on the unfurling two-lane road its true purpose was revealed as one of eight cylinder domination.
Kyle half regretted the casual words that had tied them with this much horsepower. Dylan had been on his iPad in the hostel lobby, about to select a Ford Focus. “Looks like there’s also a convertible option. Not much diff.” Dylan had latched onto the idea with surprising quickness, despite his friend’s equally rapid backpedalling. Gas expenses? Shrug. The inability to fit warm bodies comfortably in the back? Whatever. Any angle Kyle came up with, Dylan rebuffed him with a cool nod. The abbreviated conversation ended with Kyle noting the propensity of law enforcement officers to ticket muscle cars with out-of-state licenses. Already reserved mate.
As expected they wound up with a ride that, on the first dozen or so city streets, verged on disaster. Abrupt stops at traffic lights on thoroughfares shared with cable cars, an ominous rumbling under the hood sending pedestrians scurrying. Now on ascent through the Sierra foothills, the car was in its element. Kyle had to admit there was something exhilarating about the V8 thrust. If fear & loathing were twin guideposts, the very concept of a road trip was ingrained in this Mustang’s DNA. With the top down, it attained something close to perfection.
Tonight with luck they would be in Vegas––it had been a late start, thanks to a late night with two Dutch girls met at the Green Tortoise. Shots of absinthe mixed with an unknown combination of fluids in a North Beach dive––the proprietor calling it foggy nipple in sinister 3am whisper, looking down his handlebar mustache. That morning Kyle had understood the name, immersed in a foggy insistence of flesh. Fingering his supple partner in the too-short bed carpentered into a Victorian picture window. Its cramped dimensions fair price for a 180 degree view of Broadway and ‘40s all-night strip club quintessence. Her name... what was her name? Marie. Dylan had been in the bunk just feet away with… oh fuck, what was it?
Opening his eyes after an all-too-brief nap, Kyle took the In-N-Out cup from sticky cupholder. He creased the now square cup and tipped it at an angle––a last trickle of ice and watery root beer navigating his throat. The grade steepened, Dylan in the drivers seat, tying off ribbons of road with tourniquet precision. Pulling the curves at just the right moment, inches from barrier and significant drop. Letting up just enough to allow further acceleration.