It is all very well to be able to write books, but can you wiggle your ears?
Never run from your demons. That’s my advice. Ultimately, running only puts off the inevitable. It doesn’t matter how well you duck and weave; your demons will catch up with you in the end. I was chewing along the desert road towards Vegas, and not running from my demons. Not especially anyway. But there was no doubt that they were on my tail. No doubt at all.
I was at the wheel of the brand new Chevy I’d rented for the trip. I’d wanted something classic and covered with shining chrome, but no one was selling anything retro. In the end I settled for a garish orange Camaro with two black stripes across the bonnet. Brand new. Real American muscle. I’d hung a pair of dice on the rear view mirror just for the sake of tradition.
I’d put the roof down a few miles back and picked up enough speed to blow the rental papers off the passenger seat somewhere between Mammoth and Bishop. The hot sun was beating on the back of my neck and my hair was getting matted with fine desert sand. Dust and sweat mingled and turned to clay where my hair met my skin.
Although it is true you should never run from your demons, I was never very good at following my own advice. I had been running for years, on and off. The demons followed a few paces behind, reaching out for my collar now and again. Reminding me they were there. Making subtle enquiries in places I’d stayed. They wanted to negotiate my debt. I wasn’t ready for that.
Instead, I kept driving. The broad expanse of Nevada desert opened up in front of me, over the orange bonnet of the Chevy. I was heading south into the vastness of it, like something out of a movie. Sand kicked up behind me and I hoped it stuck in the throats of the ghosts on my tail. Dust billowed and swirled, dancing in the windless sky then settling back over the tarmac until the silence recovered from the throaty interruption of my V8 thundering past.
I stretched back in the seat and felt a vertebrae crack into a more comfortable place. I was in the middle of the desert again. I’d been in a lot of deserts recently. It was becoming a habit. Desert views sucked the breath right out of my chest. The sun was already sinking in the west, torching the horizon like it was doused in gasoline. Same as it had done for days as I ploughed due south into Nevada’s dry heat. I turned up the stereo and the Charlatans reminded me of England. I let the bass line rumble through me. My foot inched downwards on the gas and the Chevy lurched forward, leaving my thoughts on the road behind.