"It looks like a movie, don't it?"
He raised his hand and waved a finger forward. She looked over at him. He had one of his lanky legs crossed over the other with his boot heel jammed against the air vent so it wouldn't slip. It didn't look all that comfortable, least not compared to both flat on the floor, but he'd been riding that way for the past sixty miles or so, so who knew. He gestured again, this time with his chin and a little tilt of his head. She smiled at him, perhaps a bit wickedly. She knew how to rile him, and enjoyed doing it. He thought himself so easy-going; some sort of carefree cowboy who rode his own trail far apart from the agitated masses... and yet it took so little to turn his face all petulant and pouty. She marveled sometimes that he couldn't see it on himself. He caught it though this time and grinned at her.
"That's not exactly what I'd call safe driving there, ten-and-two."
She laughed and turned back to face the road, her eyes automatically pulling focus through the bug-splatted window, first to the road and then to the desert horizon that sprawled pink and purple across the front of distance like a local motel mural.
He was right, it did look like a movie, and not a recent one either. It looked painted and two-dimensional--how'd they used to do it? Giant backdrops placed fifty feet behind the actors, right? And the audience went right along and believed it was real 'cause what other choice did they have.
"Everyone used to get to participate in creating the particular world of movies they watched."
She knew he was suddenly listening to her intently; she could see it in her peripheral. "That's why no one likes movies now as much as we all used to."
He made a sound as he smiled, a delighted exhalation. From the corner of her eye she watched him open his mouth to reply but then he closed it and instead uncrossed his leg and pulled a bunch of slack into his seat belt. He moved against her with uncertain purpose. There was an urgency in the way he kissed her neck and desire trembled his hands, but he didn't know quite what to do with them. He caressed her bicep with his right hand and followed her bent arm down, finally wrapping his hand around hers against the steering wheel. He slid his left arm around her waist and rested his chin on her shoulder. She glanced down and their eyes met. She could feel his heart beating. She laughed.
His heart was beating directly into her right nipple and for some reason she found it equal parts arousing and absurd.
When she didn't answer he tugged the wheel a bit to the right. The car lurched slightly and she elbowed him in the stomach.
"Well, don't do that."
"'Cause you're the driver?"
"Right, 'cause I'm the driver."
"And you're in control?"
"I'm in control."
He relaxed his hand and rubbed the tip of his thumb in tiny apologetic circles around the back of her thumb knuckle.
"I may have to steal your theory." He breathed into her collarbone. "It's too good not to be my own."
"Take it. I got plenty."
He smiled against her shoulder. She could feel the corner of his mouth pull across her skin. The final pumpkin sliver of sun vanished behind the distant range. She reached down and clicked the headlights on. His side jostled against hers as he chuckled. She laughed too and he promptly kissed her cheek. He'd teased her without saying a word. They both knew smart drivers turn the headlights on when the sun goes down, but her timing had been too precise not to have a laugh.
The highway hummed beneath their tires, the only music they needed now. Under the blazing midday sun, with the air conditioner rasping, you can lose your good moods without Petty and Lyle and Dwight and all the rest, but the desert road at twilight brings its own quiet song and you miss all the chords if you don't hold someone and listen.
"Well anyway, it does look like a movie."
And he was right, it did.