When you step out of an air-conditioned car in the middle of West Texas you aren’t just making a transition from inside the car to outside. You are stepping into a new atmosphere, like a spaceman emerging from a capsule onto the moon.
Air, when it gets hot enough, has a flavor. It has a smell and a taste. It is metallic on the tongue, like aluminum. Hot aluminum.
Perhaps it was just being in the dead lands of West Texas in early August, with daily highs that never dipped below three digits, but those of us in the car started to think about hell. Hell, the shittiness of the world, and the existence of the state of Texas.
This was a conversation among friends, friends with no great love for the bleaker side of Texas. There was a great deal of laughter. You must laugh, passing through the emptiness, the forgotten towns, and the vast oil fields with their thousands of tubes shooting out flames that burn off the excess natural gas. [Read more...]