"I got the month's note on the Fury paid, I just aint got the one on the Mustang paid."

"You wrecked the Mustang last year."

"Yeah, I know. I remember."

"You dumbass," John said.

"You were supposed to get insurance off it. I made you buy insurance. In fact I sold it to you."

"I did. I got it."

"You did?"

"I used it to pay off the GTO Jimmy Lee made me wreck."

Driving, he'd spotted his brother sucking a giant Cherry Icee outside the 7-11 on Forsythe at Eighteenth. John's in his business suit; Mac can't quite figure why he's not at the office, mid-afternoon. High school kids roar through the lot in Jeeps. The two of them stand against the front bumper of John's Toyota, facing broadly into the store.

"Hot damn."

Mac watches John stare at a girl, he doesn't know how old--sixteen? "Man, you could see half her bra, couldn't you, right up under her armpit," he says, visibly disturbed.

John seems irritated as well, but in a different way: "The tits are definitely getting bigger. It wasn't like that when we were in high school." Another girl jumps out of the way at John's open glare. "You remember, don't you? It's different now. And these young shitheads around them don't even realize."

To Mac: But this does not add up. The staring. What he's doing here at all. John is married. To Chandra, whom Mac knows, has met. And who is adequate, more than. And in fact, in Mac's sense, simply female is adequate.

Later, an impromptu visit to Martin's apartment (a thing generally discouraged), the torn chip bags and empty wine coolers on the kitchen table: Yes, (Martin pontificates,) breasts getting larger, rounder, earlier in life. A singularly startling phenomenon, though perhaps not new in the history of the world. And that's where the crux of this matter is. Not chemicals, hormones in the milk or the meat we are raised upon from infancy. Rather that the phenomenon arises separately from biological or physiological data, toward the realm of style, fashion itself swinging around once more with electron-spin speed, dictating such as more desirable, and the breasts themselves have responded, away from the trend of flat blouses and bralessness, a motion totally unperceived by the singular conscious mind, the girl alone deciding how to dress: there is no such thing as a vacuum. You can only dress how someone else has dressed before you.

A dim bedroom lamp is the only light in the place, stretching toward the kitchen where the two of them sit, staring at the picture of the worm at the bottom of the cooler bottle. Martin senses something new in this visit, a layered kind of urgency. On a night like this willing to believe something good about himself, namely that his outwardly odd proclivity toward Mac has some rooting in inherent admirability, if not precisely depth.

Mac in despair, not because he doesn't understand, but because he does--the gist of it--despite Martin's way of putting things. The way something turns out to be, and the space between that and the way it could be.

Mac tries to think of pleasant things instead, cars he's driven. He'd owned a Firebird before the unfortunate demise of the GTO. A swell of sentiment propels thoughts of taking yet another Pontiac. The Fury's time was winding down, his belly told him. He'd had it for--months.

He heads out to the crossroads at the end of Love road, aimless, dimly conscious of having once picked up a hitcher there.