Poor Road Trip by Peter Schwartz and Sheldon Lee Compton

Editor Matty Byloos, Fiction, December 12th, 2016

"Isn’t it always like this, two people traveling to some place"

Peter Schwartz Sheldon Lee Compton Fiction Nailed


Our right front tire has been wobbling for the past 459 miles. We’re having very, very, very, very slow seizures. The car shakes sometimes, too. I say look those holes are like tiny craters and you reply okay, Mr. Astronaut. We orbit down the road. We both have pretty clean driver’s licenses and can write literature. You play with my coconut head, my right foot steady on the gas. It’s here, I would murder for you, but there’s no need. We have water and a map and our little tiny chance, too.

There’s no need, but I would do it. I would pull us over in a seizure fit and grin full of teeth at any hitchhiker you pointed out. I would take them in your name while you held to my arm, played the hair over my ear like a harp. But there’s no need. We have the high sky and the road. The broken road a slab of gray leading to lift-off.

Your hands are all over the car, tracing cracked plastic lines along the dashboard, knuckling leather seats and console, adjusting the radio so that you oversee all sound as far as the wind will allow. The road hums to itself another 200 miles, another 114 miles, another town, another city, another monument to your curiosity.

I don’t ask when we might stop. I drink my water and stay awake with your touch as it wanders back from scanning the landscape of the car, the hem of your skirt, to rest finally and easily at my temple. Isn’t it always like this, two people traveling to some place to so many things, to crawl out from under need and find satisfaction together? I asked this out loud before I thought. Your face crinkled, all the soft beauty drawing in on itself.

You might have slapped me, cursed, stung the heels of your hands on the dashboard, but instead you slept in the backseat. While I peeled away more miles, you climbed across, scissoring those smooth legs in the wind, and within minutes were asleep. We stay in orbit that way for miles and wasted miles.

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Header image courtesy of Theo Gosselin. To view his photo essay, “Vagabonds,” go here.

Peter Schwartz Fiction NailedPeter Schwartz has 5 chapbooks: the nowhere glow, amnesia diary, TELL ME, IN PRAISE OF all PARANOIAS, and Old Men, Girls, and Monsters. He recently completed a full-length poetry collection disciples (singers and destroyers) See more here.



Sheldon Lee Compton Fiction NailedSheldon Lee Compton is the author of three books, most recently the novel Brown Bottle (Bottom Dog Press, 2016). His stories can be found in WhiskeyPaper, New World Writing, PANK, Monkeybicycle, decomP, DOGZPLOT, and elsewhere. He was a finalist for Best Small Fictions 2015 and Best Small Fictions 2016.


Matty Byloos

Matty Byloos is Co-Publisher and a Contributing Editor for NAILED. He was born 7 days after his older twin brother, Kevin Byloos. He is the author of 2 books, including the novel in stories, ROPE ('14 SDP), and the collection of short stories, Don't Smell the Floss ('09 Write Bloody Books).