It’s LA cold out tonight. Not properly cold, but the kind of cold that makes you second guess your clothing choices and makes the thin-blooded Angelinos who have sworn their undying fealty to the all-holy altar of fashion screw their faces up in contempt at the weather’s incompatibility with their shoe choices. But fuck it, that’s no reason not to put the top down. Just crank up the heater full blast; can’t hear it over the stereo anyway. A convertible is pointless without at least several hundred watts to fill the empty space.

Stomp on the pedal as the light turns green, leave those poor fools in their Audis and Mercedes behind, their capped teeth gleaming electric white in the glow of their iPhone screen. Turn off the Santa Monica incline and push back into the cracked leather of the seat as the engine really opens up, gunning it for Malibu. The air is sticky with salt, clinging to everything, settling like frost on the windshield, making the air feel colder than it should. The ever-present dull orange glow of the city lights up the rear-view mirror like a fire licking at the rear bumper, but it can’t keep up. Those wolves and hellhounds and their plagues of promises, by god they can’t keep pace. Got to get clear.

Scream into the empty parking lot of a liquor store just past Malibu, didn’t dare stop before then to restock. A handle of rum and a six pack of Corona should be enough to wrench free of the stranglehold of LA County. The man at the counter stares listlessly, framed by top shelf booze and ageless shrink-wrapped beef sticks. Poor bastard, it’s too late for him.

Step out and pause a moment to light a cigarette, basking in the heat coming off the car hood as the radiator quietly ticks and creaks in the cold air, a sheen of condensation already forming on the leather seats. Across the highway the ocean stretches like a blank canvas saturated with ink, pushing away the beach houses that keep trying to muscle in on it, vying for an unobstructed piece of horizon. Three thousand square foot bohemian lifestyles bought and paid for, used on the occasional weekend. Scuff the cigarette into the asphalt and turn over the engine again with a roar, and swing a wide arc through the lot at speed and back onto the road.

Wait until that county line sign is in the headlights to open it up again; no sense in giving the Malibu police a reason to descend now, those polished hyenas will pick a man clean. Oxnard and Ventura pass briefly in a blur, and then the road ahead yawns black, hugging the contours between cliffs and beaches, planing a rubber-polished path up the coast. A raucous, gritty guitar riff blasts out a song about loss or love or new-found fortune; they’re all the same really. The city is behind. The road is ahead.

(Daily Prompt: Write Here, Write Now. With respect to HST)


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