This is the graveyard shift, the long hours after Dad’s finally too exhausted to drive in the wee hours of the morning until they stop for breakfast at ten. Everyone is asleep. My sister barely lasted thirty minutes awake before she knocked out, feet leaving foggy imprints on the windshield, tucked under a blanket stolen from the parents in the back. The Bobcat, or the Coyote or some other tiny country station is buzzing static as I drive further from Amarillo. The roads a grey swath under yellow headlights, and the only thing I’ve seen in miles is eighteen wheelers blinding me with their headlights as they go barreling north the other way on this tiny two lane highway.
Seven exits after the red light on the dash pings a strident warning, the yellow glow of a Love’s sign pops up beside the next overpass. I exit pulling in under those too bright white lights, and my sister makes a muted protest. The door comes open with a rush of cold. It’s a matter of minutes ever more tedious minutes to get the tank filling. It’s one of those that have to be depressed by hand, and 16 gallons seems ever so long, and the smell of gasoline is doing odd things in the cold that is burning her fingers.
Thankfully a run quick run indoors offers climate control. Finally the real reason for insanely large gas station cups is revealed. Coffee. Large, and more a vector by which to imbibe cream and sugar. It runs hot through her veins and the remainder of the night is spent in a pleasant buzz of caffeine and jittery fingers on the wheel tapping out to old country classics she hasn’t heard in years but hey—Thank God and Greyhound She’s Gone!
Coffee and country make for the best company on late night drives