Brand New

She’s got a supervisor with a big Steak ‘n Shake logo running up his forearm.

Along old Route 66 in Arizona

She dreams of doing jigsaw puzzles on rainy afternoons. She’s got a supervisor with a big Steak ‘n Shake tattoo running up his forearm who told her to quit digging for her rock bottom. “You can always keep digging,” he said, handing her a paycheck and waving her away. So last Tuesday she packed up her old Pontiac and pointed it west at three in the morning. Her phone kept beeping while she sped into the desert, telling her about an uprising in a country she’d never heard of, about stock market jitters and the death of an actress. All these billboards, headlines, news alerts, and radio jingles: it’s like having a noisy person in the room, an unwanted guest who never leaves. She rolled the window down and threw the phone into the Mojave.

She punched a cassette tape into the dash and listened for answers beneath the saturated drums of the Ronettes, big drums that crashed and dripped with fever-dream history. Ronnie and her incredible beehive singing “Keep on Dancing” back in ’64, a song so good that Phil refused to release it. He kept a solid gold coffin in the basement and told Ronnie he’d put her inside it if she tried to leave. Jump cut to Ronnie, running down the street yelling with bits of plate glass window in her feet.

The music hurt. She cut the volume. Everything had a sad story. She’d keep driving until she found a small desert town with a faded Help Wanted sign in the window of a roadhouse or diner and she’d start over just like in the movies.