On Driving Together

It is almost midnight when I receive a call asking me where I am.

I am in the middle of the road. I am avoiding getting hit by cars, buses, and taxis.

"Do you see me now?"

I get in the car as the light turns green and he tells me a story.

Last night he was driving, up in Connecticut, up in the green pastures of money made by the million. Past midnight he turned around a backroad bend and saw a group of figures emerge from the side of the road. Woodland nymphs. Girls, twelve or thirteen, but still girls and not women, not sexual enough or conscientious enough of themselves to be teenagers, they stood by the side of the road between the trees and any car that would pass. His car came up. He stopped in front of them.

Dressed in pajamas, the girls carried pillows. The mouthpiece of the group, he tells me, got into the front seat. The others crawled in back. He says the mouthpiece was chatty, confident, clearly the leader. She got in first, after all. The others just followed behind.

"What are you girls doing out so late?" he asked them.

"We were having a sleepover," said the mouthpiece, "but we wanted to change houses." 

It is the middle of the night, he reminds me, and these girls just came out of the woods. Nymphs, I think. I am in awe and enraptured by their brave stupidity and heroic nonchalance.

He asks them, "Do your parents know where you are?" 

"Of course," says the mouthpiece. "Our parents trust us." 

He tells me the girls have their parents' money. I tell him that this is normal parental love, here, where a degree of trust is knowing the charge will be paid. Love means never owing debts.

Money is a bulletproof vest, money is a chastity belt, money means no worries. Girls, they just want to have fun.

He tells me he pulled up to a house - "another mansion" - with all the lights off, because still it is the middle of the night. But this is where the mouthpiece had directed him to take them.

"Is anybody home?" he asked. 

"Yes," said the mouthpiece, "my parents are just asleep." 

It is the middle of the night.

Trust means not having to say don't wait up for me.

The girls shot out of the car to the back of the manse. In the middle of the night, not a light on but his headlights, the nymphs disappeared into a void sealed with trust and money. And he never saw them again. 

I have been in the front seat before, a different kind of mouthpiece, in a different story.

Now I am sitting in his car and wonder if he will tell a story about me to whomever comes next.