You can't tell, here, if you run into the dirt. It's flat enough that it won't matter, you won't even feel the bump. The sand blew into the streets and covered the pavement they put down in 1958, a trade route, they called it, an American silk road, and it died when there was no one to drive it anymore.
You could make a dollar a mile working as a trucker, more than most people could ever imagine flipping burgers for five-fifty an hour. The downside is the food, the travel plazas and rest stop showers in the middle of nowhere. Glancing up from your over-fried chicken to look into the eyes of the two children of a crazed supremacist father with the USMC tats and a gun under his pillow, a shrapnel scar splashed across his chest. They watch from the table with ketchup dripping from their fingers, eyes empty like murder. The downside is the people and all alone, being all alone, in the middle of nowhere, flat and long and forever.
The hitchhiker, she bitches about his music and talks about artists he's never even heard of, things he doesn't know. She talks about religion, he thinks, or something like that. Something about the Earth Mother and Gaia and she trails off then, the rest of her lost in a cough and a smoke cloud that fogs his rearview. He reaches to wipe it away and his hand drops, doesn't bother.
There's nothing to see. No one would care to chase them.
He stops at every motel. Goes to every office and gets a bored clerk's signature in a moleskin with a contract stapled to the cover, saying he can take all the pictures of their sign he wants and they won't sue.
Point and shoot. The Pink Shell Motel. El Rancho's Motor Lodge. He gets them all with a hundred-dollar digital, some piece of crap he got on sale back in '99.
She watches him replace the lens cap after the one off I-64, the one that hasn't even got a name, just burning red letters blazing M-O-T-E-L into the dust and blocking the stars.
The camera can steal your soul, she tells him, playing with the leather-looking strap around her wrist. She assures him it's fake, tells him that she's one of those people who'll rob the blood bank or the butcher and throw it all on the women in fur coats. She says she was in a production of Carrie in high school, modified by her drama class for the stage.
The air breaks halfway through the Colorado Plateau. She sweats, the fading henna up her arms and on her hands melting off her skin and staining her palms dirty. A child playing in the yard, remnants of mud pies with grass blade garnish, the taste grainy on her tongue.
It's three hundred miles before he asks. Where are you headed, he says, and the wheel is slipping under his wet palms. She shrugs her shoulders, both at a time, and she says, I dunno if it matters. Does it?
Not to me, he tells her, and she smiles and lights another smoke, and God, but he hates Menthols.
70 years ago, on 10 March 1943, Bulgaria's pro-Nazi government decided to defy Berlin and halt the deportation of Bulgaria's 50.000 Jews. This was down to the actions of one man - Dimitar Peshev. Just two years later he faced Communist justice and found himself on trial for his life. His niece Kaluda Kiradjieva remembers