They had been driving for another few minutes by now, and the sun was boring down mercilessly on them. The air conditioning wasn’t enough for either of them, and Alice found herself fiddling with the little flap that controlled the wind direction, hoping to get it exactly on the sweaty spot on her forehead.

“What do you think that dude was talking about?” she finally asked, though she knew she was going to regret the question.

Joseph was very, very quiet. She noticed his knuckles were white from gripping the wheel. She could see his upper lip curl high enough to reveal his teeth: “It doesn’t matter. Don’t worry about it.”

“Wow. That’s the scariest answer you could have given,” she said. They both fell back into silence.

What the hell did that mean, she found herself wondering – why not just ‘I don’t know’? Did he know something she didn’t? That was way creepier than anything else that had just happened, and made her feel way worse.

A terrible energy had entered the car, like a dark shroud had crawled in through the window and sat between the two of them.

It wasn’t funny anymore. She just wanted to leave.

An excuse popped into her mind: “Hey, can we stop by a gas station? I really need to use the bathroom.”

That seemed to break him out of his rage-fueled stupor. “Wowie. Alice of all people, finally stooping to the level of using a public restroom? You must really need to go,” Joseph ribbed her – the kind of funny teasing they’d normally do to each other, though it stung a little this time.

“Shut the hell up.” He was sort of right, she thought, but she didn’t want to get into a psychoanalysis of her and bathrooms. She just needed to get the fuck out of the car.