Ben drives a 1999 Ford Ranger 4x4. For some reason, I have agreed to drive with him from Phoenix to Houston. He's just acquired a job and is moving out of my house. I should not have agreed to this roadtrip. Ben sings along with anything that he can, in spurts. He shouts out the line that he knows, and then skips past tracks on the one dollar cds that he bought at an electronics store and populated on Napster. Ben likes to say things like "Oy Gevalt" and call me a Goyem. In the next breath, he is shouting "Jesus CHRIST!!" as he holds one hand over the horn and his foot rests heavily on the brake. Ben does not like people merging into traffic. Ben tells me that he will pay for everything, and he knows that he owes me 250 dollars for this month's rent. He thanks me profusely, "Jen, this is so awesome, you don't know how much this means to me."

Twenty hours later we are in Houston. Ben goes to take a shower at the hotel, but I see he doesn't open the soap or use the shampoo. I brought my own from home because hotel stuff dries me out. We go to dinner and Ben looks into his wallet as though he's expecting trap doors to open. He is poking and prodding, furrowing his eyebrows and frowning, sticking his tongue out of his mouth. I ask if he needs me to pay for my own dinner. He says it would help him a lot. I don't care whether or not it would help him, I just hate looking at him while he's putting on this ridiculous show.

Getting back into his truck I notice a funk that seems pushed into the metal and plastic of the vehicle. It is sweat, it is dirt and dead skin and rot the likes of which you only find under folds of skin. I pretend I am at the zoo. When you are at the zoo, you get used to the smell of the animal house, until you stop and tell yourself, "Now I'm going to smell what this REALLY smells like."

I didn't get all of the rent money. And he didn't pay for everything, like he promised so many times. But he's gone, and that's good enough.

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