The Porsche is lurking in a fast food parking lot. I check Loretta’s face – she sees them as well.
“Are they with you, Debbie Harry?”
“I don’t see how they can be. My money says they’re common or garden variety arseholes.”
“Sounds about right.”
They ride our ass, as Loretta puts it, all the way to the turnoff for the Grand Canyon. Pulling up alongside us. Dropping back again. Speeding past only to hit the brakes a few seconds later. To give her fair credit, Loretta doesn’t get rattled. She keeps our speed even and doesn’t acknowledge them.
“Do they,” I ask her, “actually think they’re flirting?”
“No idea,” she says. “No accounting for crazy.” She gestures at the brown sign for the Grand Canyon. “You ever see that movie?”
“That’s the one. Those Porsche driving assholes are looking to get shot.”
“On the whole, I’d like to avoid that.”
“On. Thee. Whole.” Her English accent sounds like there’s a fistful of marbles in her mouth. “On thee whole, your majesty, I’d be inclined to agree.”
“But you do have a gun?”
She nods at the glove box.“See for yourself.”
“Nice.” A Beretta M92, modified. “I’ve never seen a Sword Cutlass before.”
“You recognize it?” Her disbelief is clear. “I thought you English don’t’t approve of guns.”
“I know a thing or two,” I confess. “In fact …”
When I reach behind my back and pull out the baby Smith, Loretta slaps my thigh. “Hot damn, girl, ain’t we just two of a kind.”
Despite the temptation, we don’t shoot anyone and the asshats – Loretta again – in the yellow Porsche turn off about ten miles after the Grand Canyon. Either heading back the way they came or south to somewhere called Prescott.
This interstate runs all the way to Los Angeles, but Loretta has other plans and I’m happy to ride along. I was planning to visit my new bank some time soon anyway. We peel away at Kingman and join the highway to Hell, Heaven or Las Vegas. I’ve heard it each and every way. There’s a flurry of gas stations, places to eat, and auto repair shops and then it’s just us and one hundred miles of road.
“Are we on a mission from God?” I ask Loretta.
“Something like that, I guess.” She’s giving nothing away.
I want to recline my seat and put my feet up on the dash, but I’m pretty sure I’d piss Loretta off. I don’t think it takes a lot to piss her off.
Coyote Pass is thirty-seven hundred feet above sea level. We drive in silence through mile after mile of scrub and grey-brown landscape, getting acquainted silently via osmosis.
“Last time I came this way, I swear to God we drove across that thing,” I say as we cross the bridge above the Hoover Dam. “Even got out and walked right into the middl.
“Fucking terrorists,” Loretta spits.
“Tell me about it. All that security paranoia bullshit has totally ruined flying.” Unless you have your own private jet.
“Thank fuck,” she says with a smile, “the terrorists don’t have drones. Imagine if they could bomb anywhere they wanted from a safe place on the far side of the globe.”
A little bit of politics from Loretta. “Yes,” I agree, with my own dry smile. “Imagine.”
She turns off the freeway onto the Las Vegas Strip and traffic clots almost immediately. Casino hotels rise up in the distance and a billboard at the side of the road pimps a bankruptcy lawyer who hasn’t missed a meal for at least twenty years.
The airport appears. A smaller helicopter charter business. And then, in the median, something I hadn’t expected.
“Look!” Loretta yelps, sounding almost excited. “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas!”
Like most of the famous people I know, the iconic sign is smaller than I expected. “Photo op?” I suggest.
“I’d love to, Blondie, but I don’t have time.”