We are an hour and a half outside of Dallas, nearly to the cabin where we have been invited to a birthday party, and on the right side of the road interrupting vast fields and pastureland, we pass in succession, at one mile intervals, the isolated stores Texas Boot, Texas Gun, and the tattoo parlor Texas Ink. It feels like a progression of some kind, and I ask Dustin what it all means, what ultimate Texas thing this path is leading us to. An hour later, when a party guest calls us all to the bathroom to see the scorpion twitching in the sink, I take that as my answer. It's not enough that there are snakes in the brush and children keep falling into cactus needles, there are scorpions climbing up through the plumbing.
"At least it's a small one," I remark, looking at the pale little thing, but I am corrected. It's the little ones that are the most venomous.
"You probably won't die," Ed tells me of their sting. "But you'll throw up all day." And I am thinking about this possibility as someone scoops up the apparition in a plastic cup and adds enough alcohol to drown it. Scorpions, someone remarks, are not good swimmers.