It’s quickly closing on midnight, the highway spilling out north before me is becoming unclear. I’m riding the tail end of a late afternoon coffee fortified by the burn of nicotine at my gum line. Jake and I are heading to Minnesota with an empty cooler and a full box of shells for the Remington 870: my first gun.
Jake is asleep in the glow of the dash lights, he’s sprawled out with the seat heater on low. He is a dog, a chocolate one.
There is no one to talk to. It is far too dark for the scenery to hold my interest. The stereo is playing nonfiction that I chose, but I’m not listening. I glance at the dog. I smile because when he moved up from the back seat to the front seat the automatic weight sensor activated the passenger airbag; registering life, something worth saving.
I’m holding the gear stick with my right hand because Jake’s head was constantly knocking it into neutral on the freeway about 20 miles ago. Much like the dog, my hand is asleep. But he is comfortable.