Time is gone this once.
The upright motorcycle with glinting handlebars and a full tank of gas, there beside the first miracle of the extant I-80, and Donald hugs the suitcase of plane-crash victims like it’s his hostage, like it does more than fill her belly and leave her weaker. Back there in Iowa, the engine rumbles, its fumes stink through the sulfur, and Donald, almost dead, is desperate, so he tells Hillary that he loves her.
Stay with me as we peek into the ladies’ room at a Casey’s in western Nebraska to find daylight spraying through a gouged-open wall and a wolf creature slurping from the toilet. Its black, iridescent haunches stick out of the stall because, dear Christ, it doesn’t fit. Its talons click on the tiles. It pants. A blur of madness surrounds its size alone.
Or later at the state line, that night, when Hillary gestures with her fist to deny that there is a wolf creature at all, and the skeleton, packing its Lucky Strikes, suggests that she may be mistaken. Her eyes are shaky. She turns to the skeleton. Her smile is also a glare.
“You’ve ‘always’ loved me?”
“Not until I saw a picture of you in college,” says Donald. “Hear me out!”
He thrusts a waving hand in panic two days and five impossible gas stations before she inches back from the bathroom, easing the door closed, dreading a click, regretting not ringing up the gas as a cash sale first. That night, in conversation with the skeleton, she emphatically grasps the air and insists on her sudden understanding that she doesn’t have to go, but as the skeleton retorts, why does she have trouble with the button sequence at the register, the sequence she learns at the first Casey’s, if she has full control of her fingers? The skeleton breathes out a stream of smoke from invisible lungs or a memory. It glows in the headlight’s beam. The skeleton flicks its ash in the ash around them.
“I mean, you were obviously hot,” says Donald, and sets the suitcase between his feet. “I thought how easy your life could have been, and I remembered what you chose instead. I looked into the photo of a college girl, and saw your past as her future.”
“Why did you grab the box of Slim Jims, Madam Secretary?”
The skeleton digs in the ash. She nods as it speaks, but her glare demands why it’s choosing to repeat the outrageous accusation.
“The saddlebag of beef sticks and Ding Dongs was draped over your shoulder,” it continues. It stirs up a cloud of ash as it draws a small pebble from it. Then it throws the pebble onto the interstate. “You knew it was there, but didn’t risk spilling it.”
She keeps nodding.
“Why grab the Slim Jims that you left by the pump after you saw that your bag was full?”
“Protein,” she says. Days earlier, she says, “Donald, you just declared the most impressive part of my career to be the fact that I had one.”
“It wouldn’t sound like that if I had a chance.”
The skeleton keeps digging. It finds another stone, and throws it in the highway too.
“You were crying just now, when you stopped to tie down the saddlebag. Why?”
“I will not address your fantasy of a wolf creature, Mister Skeleton.”
“Dasney,” it says. “You weren’t crying because of the creature. You had to survive to get here, Hillary. You’ve already thought as much. I know it’s true and so should you.”
“That is preposterous.”
Donald’s still guarding the suitcase that she wishes she never filled. He’s clutching it between his knees. The meat inside is rotten, and she hasn’t touched it in days. He acts like it will make her stay. There’s pus on his scalp. It’s not healing.
“Did you think you had a chance?” she asks, not for the first time wondering what the world is like inside his head.
“Not as a businessman,” he says, and misses his blunder.
“Grab your own pussy, Trump.”
She twists the handlebar and shows him her taillight. It shrinks from him and glows blue like the eyes of the wolf creature, when it prowls the aisles of the Casey’s and then looks up from the rotting sandwiches in the deli case at the sound of her engine.
“He didn’t mean to implicate you,” says the skeleton. It finds a stone in the ash, and dusts this one off on its ribcage.
“Then he never meant anything.”
“Forget him. He crawled off to die in a cave. I want to show you something.”
It places the stone on her palm. The stone is smooth and cold. She holds it up to the headlight. It’s translucent blue.
“What is it?”
“What does it do?”
“It looks pretty,” it says. “I’m sorry. Did you want me to say there was hope?”
She stands and throws the stone away from the highway. It kicks up a shadow of ash when it lands. She climbs back onto the bike.
“I’ll see you in California,” says the skeleton. “Enjoy Colorado.”
She has a magical time in the Rockies.