A car driving over a bridge passes a sign that reads, “Welcome to New Jersey”.
“What the fuck!” the alligator driver says. He drops his shades below his slit-pupil eyes to better see the GPS.
“What? What is it?” asks his girlfriend in the shotgun seat.
“We’re going to Jersey.”
“I thought we were going to IKEA?”
“So did I…I’m sorry.”
Now, the two alligators are in bumper to bumper traffic, going the wrong way, deeper into New Jersey. She works on a crossword puzzle, pressing hard with the pen so that the ink really bleeds. He drums his claw on the steering wheel and hums an old doo-wop song, mostly off-key. She reaches her claw over to his and holds it still for a second before returning to fill in 18 across, “buttress”. The car engine idles.
“Sometimes when I’m stuck in traffic I like to pretend I’m in a hot-air balloon above it all. I imagine how the breeze would feel up there, how quiet it’d be. The cars would seem so tiny. They’d probably look like alligator scales. Reflecting the sun, protecting their passengers. Just like scales.”
Sound of a word being aggressively crossed out.
“I think we should replace the shower curtain.”
“What? The one I picked out?”
“But you said–”
“I know, I know. And I do. But it’s been hurting my eyes lately. It’s just…I need a break from it.”
“Okay…Well, I’d like to hang on to it, at least. It’s a good shower curtain. The flowers are nice.”
“It is. They are”
On the way back over the bridge to Philadelphia, the sun was setting and it seemed to him like an enormous grapefruit that would swallow the entire city and all the cars in its bittersweet red ruby flames but the alligator driver would keep the thought to himself for now. Wrong turns are a slippery slope.