''What the fuck are ya tryin' to do? Mother of Mary, you're going to have us both killed!''
Sam was clutching the inside of the car door as if it would save him, should the car crash. I was always a terrible driver, and these dirt-and-gravel roads weren't helping the situation. I laughed Sam off as I clutched the wheel a little tighter; seeing him this terrified was worth behaving like a mental woman, considering he felt it was his job as my older brother to torture me whenever his life wasn't in my hands. Despite my better judgment, I looked away from the road to check the fuel gauge and was surprised to see that we were running dangerously low. I slowed down a little and glanced at my terrified passenger.
''We'll be needing to stop for gas soon.'' I said.
''There aint no stations 'round here for miles.''
I raised an eyebrow.
''Don't worry,'' He said, ''There's fuel in the trunk. We'll be in New Moordam in no time, the way you're driving... we'll make the funeral.''
An awkward silence quickly filled the space of the jeep at the mention of the funeral, hanging heavily in the air.
I turned my head back to the road, about to pick up speed again, when I saw a small glint of light in the dirt just ahead of the car. I slammed on the brakes hard, causing us to jolt forward in out seats, but I had left it too late. I heard the sound of the tyres being shredded by the broken glass, and then of scraping metal; it was an ugly sound, more because I knew that this meant we would be stuck out here, in the heat of July on some dirt road that didn't look like it had been used in months.
''Fuck!'' yelled Sam, who then angrily flung open the passenger door and jumped out. Doing the same, I walked around to his side of the car to inspect the damage.
''Shit...'' I breathed, looking at the amount of glass lodged in the rubber of both the right side wheels. It seemed like half the air had escaped already, leaving the jeep looking lopsided. There was no way we could drive this car anywhere, never mind New Moordam.
I stared at our our surroundings in dismay as Sam slammed the car door shut and cursed. The vast open space was surrounded by mountains. Trees and small lakes were scattered around the dusty plain, along with small hills and patches of yellow and green grass.
''Look at this.'' I said to Sam, picking up a piece of glass that still had part of a Coopers Brew sticker on it.
''Who the bloody hell is drinkin' all the way out 'ere?'' He said, grabbing the label from me and staring at it. It was around that moment we heard the shouting.
Looking around, I spotted a group of men and pointed them out to my brother. They were gathered in a clearing, watching what looked like two dogs chase after a small - but very fast - creature. They talked excitedly as the dogs neared the animal, and some shouted in victory when it was eventually caught.
''We should see if they can help us.'' I said, and Sam followed me as I started walking in their direction. As we neared them, I could see what looked like a trailer park behind the clearing, near where the mountains began.
Sam rolled his eyes. "Great," he mumbled under his breath. "They're pikeys. I fuckin' 'ate pikeys.''
The men looked up at us, halfway through exchanging money and giving the dogs treats. I could see a rabbit hanging limply from its neck in the larger of the two dogs teeth.
When we got closer, a tall man with scruffy facial hair, an odd-looking hat over boyish-trimmed, dirty blonde hair and big blue eyes called out to us.
''What ya two doin' all the way out 'ere?" He questioned, arching one thick eyebrow. He had a strange accent, like a cross between English and Irish - but not quite either.
"We decided it would be fun if we stranded ourselves in the middle of bloody nowhere." Was Sam's dry reply. I kicked him lightly in the shin and gave him a glare - we would, obviously, be needing help from these people.
''Our jeep ran over a broken beer bottle, and now two of our tyres are flat.'' I explained, deciding not to mention it was most likely their broken beer bottle. ''Would there be any way we could get new ones out here?''
''We got some, but ya'll need to pay.''
''How much do you want for 'em?'' I asked.
The gypsy men glanced at each other, and one muttered something to the taller one.
''One grand.'' He said proudly, folding his arms over his chest. I glanced at Sam, who was glaring and had a rather large vein sticking out of his forehead. Turning myself and him away from the men, I asked him in a hushed voice how much money we had.
''We only have five hundred fucking dollars between us,'' He fumed. ''and I'd bet my house the bloody pikeys wont drop their price anywhere near that!''
I sighed as he turned back to them, still glaring.
''We can't pay that much.'' He said through gritted teeth.
The gypsy laughed, his large blue eyes sparkling. He shifted his gaze from Sam to me, eying me up and down. I pursed my lips, suddenly self-conscious in my short, high-waisted shorts and low cut shirt.
''I tell you what,'' the traveler began, ''you c'n pay us what ya got now an' work tha rest of it off. It sh'd only take ya t'ree days.'' The damned pikey was still grinning. Sam took a sharp breath, probably about to tell him exactly where he can stick his tyres, when I put my hand on his shoulder.
''We can do that.'' I said. Getting out of the dusty, sweltering heat was now more of a priority than reaching the funeral. We didn't have much of a choice. I held the gypsies gaze, contemplating what the next few days held.