This time the disdain was palpable. We were all just trying to make the best of a bad situation, staying hydrated, talking walks. I figured I might as well let my conscience run its own race. “Live Large,” the sign read. (No one had ever been to Nebraska before, it seemed.) Later on it was pretty obvious what had happened, I mean, you could practically smell it. The sun was setting, the dogs were howling—basically, it was paradise. Off in the distance, you could see the choppers weaving back and forth in the smudged air like black gnats. He came apologetically onto the small of my back before I had an opportunity to suggest some other course of action. Show’s over, said the man in the brown pants. Look, I only ever went there on holidays or when I was really loaded. Her smile was like a half-finished sand castle that somebody had taken a small, polite shit in. The interview was a complete disaster; the guy showed up wearing a fucking suit, if you can believe it. Like it was somebody’s wedding. I’d pay money to see that, she said, her hand poised tentatively in midair as though she was waiting to catch an overripe piece of fruit. Christ if I could just get some sleep. The sound of the refrigerator had gradually become unbearable. We ought to take that thing outside and put it out of its misery, somebody said, then laughed. In that moment, the faint curve of shadow beneath her left breast had become hopelessly linked to the appalling realities of his life, the realization of the total nature of his failure. Win some, lose some. The crowd was chanting something unspeakable. Soon, she suspected, that was going to be the punch line to a very bad joke. You’ve got your whole life ahead of you, they were always telling her, but somehow the phrase always conjured up images of the long, grey apartment towers she saw from the highway on those Sundays they had taken her to visit her grandparents.