You’re about to do something criminal, aren’t you? Ken said. Liz wasn’t, as far as she was aware, but was pleased to be watched, like you watch a wild animal or a child, for something to happen. In truth she had no control of the dangerous things she did. They just happened. Later, she’d think back and realize what she’d done. Somewhere along the line she’d become aware that many of the things she did were not products of her conscious, reasoning mind. In court or therapy people would ask why she did something and it always seemed like someone else had done it, and that she had no idea why.
She couldn’t remember how long they’d been down here, in these concrete tunnels. An hour? Months? She really couldn’t remember. She’d found she was really good at forgetting. But she could always remember the distant past. Picking corn with her grandfather. Granpa, in his straw hat, spitting tobacco and throwing ears of corn into burlap sacks. She remembered rowing around the narrow, snaking, waterways with her dog Channa. She could recall every dog they’d had, by name: Channa, Stripe, Sushi, Bats, Shadow, Bats 2, Fresco, Carmel. Some animals stayed lodged in her brain way longer than people. Even small animals she’d find in the scrub. And spiders. As a kid there were lots of spiders in her room. Early on, the family had lived in the desert and many of the spiders were white or transparent. She’d named them all. Her favorite was Icy-Legs. After Icy-Legs died, she’d brought the spider’s corpse along with them to Florida. Set it free into the ocean.
They’d started walking again. All the tunnels looked the same, all full of moping workers in uniforms who gave them a wide berth as they passed. When they passed inmates, out and about for good behavior, the inmates were required to stop and face the wall until they walked by. I can’t stay in this place forever, Liz said.
Now they were driving, Liz at the wheel. Ken was in the seat beside her, face chalk-white, eyes closed. They drove over a hundred miles per hour down a long, straight stretch of highway. Liz listened to the sound of the car’s engine, the sound of the wheels spinning over the asphalt. The highway sounded like a symphony to her. Bass drums. Drum brush. Like a symphony without a melody.
When she pulled into a gas station, Ken’s body flopped forward in his seat. Liz pushed him back and stretched the seatbelt around him. When she was inside the minimart at the counter to pay, she looked back at the car. A police officer was shining a flashlight into the front passenger seat.
Liz found a hiding-spot under some cardboard over by the dumpsters. She lay shivering under the cardboard until dawn, listening to police walkies chattering away.
In the morning she didn’t see her car or the police anywhere. She walked across the parking lot to the restroom. She stared at her own pupils in the scratched bathroom mirror. Soon she saw her thoughts all floating some distance away from her mind, down a river. In her head her thoughts were replaced by an infinite void.
When she exited the bathroom a spider was crawling across the back of her hand. The cops had reappeared and stood before her in a semi-circle, guns drawn. She held up her hand, the spider still moving. It’s bad luck to kill a spider, she said.
The spider came with her all the way to the station. In the holding cell she spoke to the spider. Don’t worry about me, little guy. Really, I won’t remember any of this.