My brother's blue Honda is racing through the wastelands of central
Nevada.  Notice that I did not say "southern Nevada," which would imply that
we were heading to or away from Las Vegas, which, in case you never wandered
far enough away from the hotels and casinos to notice, is a thin
encrustation of civilization on top of the desert, and which will dry up and
blow away leaving nothing but the desert behind it just as soon as the
international monetary system collapses or they make casino gambling legal
anywhere in the West outside of Nevada.  Incidentally, just the other day I
advised the chairman of the California Waste Management Board to push for
the legalization of casino gambling in California in order to reduce the
state of Nevada to making money by converting all of those useless
underground nuclear test sites into underground sanitary landfills.  If this
comes to pass some day, don't blame me just because it was my idea.
     Notice also that I did not say, "northern Nevada," which would imply
that we were brothel-hopping the string of mobile-home bordellos along
Interstate 80, and which are, or at least were, owned by the same Irvine
Company that has planned so many great places to raise your kids.  No, Steve
and I were motoring across the Great Basin from Wendover, through Ely and
Tonopah, crossing the state line where the road passes just north of
Boundary Peak, on our way home from our yearly Christmas vacation visit to
Clearfield, Utah, where our father lives.  It is possible to drive for hours
at a time through the Great Basin without seeing a filling station or even a
house, and if you get lost or have an accident or run out of gas, you will
surely die.
     We were near the so-called Lunar Crater when I noticed that the
landscape was composed of relatively fresh igneous rock.  "Look, Steve," I
said, "*lava!*"
     "Great.  Do you want to stop and get some?"
     "Definitely.  Just pull off wherever there's an outcropping close to
the road."
     Steve eased the Honda off the highway at a likely spot.  We must have
been driving through somebody's cattle ranch, that's the only way I can
explain it.  Somebody must have killed off all the coyotes and wolves,
because when I ran out of the car to collect the lava, millions of rabbits
exploded out of the scrub grass and mesquite.  They jumped away from me in
all directions, creating a general rabbit panic; it was like I was a stone
dropped into a lagomorph lake, generating concentric waves in the furry medium.
     Later that same day, because Steve and I have no desire to expand the
experience of driving to Utah or back to California into a two-day trip with
an overnight stay at some place called a "Desert Inn," we are speeding along
Highway 395 somewhere between the Mojave towns of Randsburg and Johannesburg
(sounds like someone --- oh, never mind) and the junction with Interstate
15.  It is almost midnight.  The mighty Honda headlights are reflected back
by millions of pairs of mammalian eyes.
     "Look at all those rabbits, Steve, just sitting there..."
     "They're just sitting there in rows, several bunnies deep all along the
road for miles on end, staring at us, like this is some sort of a spectator
event for them.  These rabbits have nothing else to fill up their drab and
empty lives, Steve.  They don't have TV, so they come from miles around
every night just to watch the cars going places they can only dream of going
themselves.  They get all zonked out, and barely notice the passage of time.
Every once in a while, a rabbit will get depressed at this state of affairs
and shout, 'I can't take it any more!  The ennui, the constant, everlasting
sameness, the meaninglessness of it all!  This isn't real living!  I'm going
to end it all!  Goodbye, cruel world!' and with a final despairing cry,
'AAAUUGHHH!' it hurls its body into the path of a speeding car and is
squished to death."  We silently consider this for a moment.
     "Although, rabbits can't really scream."
     "No, actually, Mark, volcano rabbits can scream and make all kinds of
     "Yes, you're right!  Mexican volcano rabbits *can* scream.  Somehow,
these must be Mexican volcano rabbits.  In fact, in Mexico itself, listening
to the rabbits is a common experience, one which is even a source of great
love poetry, as in,

     vamonos, mi enamorada, al volcano,
     y alli
     escuchemos a los conejos
     cuando gritan en la noche."