On the other side of the highway a snow plough hurtled southward. The headlights of their rented car shone on a set of tyre tracks cut through the white.

‘It’s getting worse, buddy,’ Driver said. ‘Huh.’
‘You were asleep. Sorry.’
‘No. Just drifting,’ Passenger said.

‘The flurries are getting heavier.’
Passenger leaned towards the windscreen.
‘I can’t see properly; I think my eyes are rolling.’
‘We’ll stop soon. I need to eat,’ Driver said.
‘I told you we should have waited until morning.’
‘Welcome to Canada, I suppose.’
‘It’ll be worse the further north we go.’
‘Not necessarily.’
In a large hall bordered by eateries they ordered and ate food from a Lebanese sandwich bar. Driver washed his down with beer. Passenger dropped his half-eaten roll on the tray, picked up a plastic cup. Sipping through a straw made him wince.

‘What’s wrong?’ Driver asked.
‘I can’t open my mouth properly. The doctor says its jaw ligaments. I had an ear infection for most of January.’
‘I’m surprised you made it on the plane at all.’
‘Man, this place is busy for midnight,’ Passenger said.
‘There’s a casino further on, where there’s nowhere to eat. We’ll be passing it.’
‘We could stop there.’
‘Now you’re talking,’ Driver smiled.
‘Have you been, here?’
‘We were in one the day after Christmas.’
‘Good?’
‘Good craic.’
‘That’s right, you didn’t make it home.’
‘No, I didn’t.’

On the verge beside the casino stood a Native American figure made of neon tube lights. Driver checked on Passenger, sighed and depressed the accelerator pedal harder than before. An hour passed before Passenger woke.

‘What about the casino?’ he asked.
‘About a hundred k’s that way, if you want to go back.’
‘Sorry. But I needed that.’
‘We’ll need to stop again for gas.’
‘Okay. Wake me.’
‘Okay.’

Passenger held the nozzle into the tank. The wind that blew drifts of snow across the filling station car park numbed his head. When the counter read fifty he sat into the car, turned the key to ignition and the heating dial to red. He watched Driver cross the forecourt to the car and saw he had bought caffeine tablets and cigarettes.

‘Set?’ he asked.
‘Good to go, now. You?’
‘Yeah, better.’
‘We’ll rip it up when we get there.’
‘That’s the stuff, buddy.’
‘What’s with this “buddy” thing?’
‘That’s what people call each other here.’
‘I didn’t know that.’
‘We’ve about two hundred kilometres left, a little more perhaps.’
‘That’ll get us in around three.’
‘Around then. There’s a bar at the hotel.’
‘That’ll do,’ Passenger said.
‘There’ll be places open. It’s not like home.’
‘I get you. Wake me if you need to.’
‘Okay.’
‘Stick to the tracks; wake me if it gets heavier than this.’
‘Will do, boss.’