But this rough magic I here abjure;
And, when I have required some heavenly music,
-which even now I do,-
To work mine end upon their senses,
That this airy charm is for,
I’ll break my staff,
Bury it certain fathoms in the earth,
And deeper than did ever plummet sound
I’ll drown my book.
Prospero, Act V, Scene I,
The Tempest by William Shakespeare
I’m going to miss my flight, thought Martin with a frustrated sigh, sinking back in his seat and drumming lightly on the steering wheel in time with Fleetwood Mac’s Gypsy playing softly in the background. A pilot truck, with flashing yellow lights mounted above the cab, appeared from the thick smoke ahead, leading a long, slow line of cars and pickups past him in the opposite direction. The traffic moving in his lane had been halted for a full half-hour previously as emergency vehicles made their way to the blaze, and now he was stopped again. He’d just crossed the border into Idaho near Lookout Pass, and the forest fire was being battled on the steep slopes somewhere below the highway up ahead. Lightning strikes, maybe once, maybe twice, sang Stevie Nicks, and Martin became mesmerized as vehicles emerged from the dense bluish smoke about three or four car-lengths ahead, the motion and music taking his mind off his pounding headache.
He began dreaming of warm Mediterranean beaches and foreign food, and calculated that he was getting out of Montana at just the right time of year. They were entering the cold, wet autumn which should make this eruption one of the last major forest fires of the season. From now on, only rain, snow, and soggy ground lay ahead for those who chose to weather it out - and for once he didn’t want to be among them. He needed a fresh start and was looking forward to this trip as a welcome break from the coming winter gloom.
Suddenly the car ahead of him was moving forward and disappeared into the dusky curtain before them, so he put his car in gear, finding and then following the dim brake-lights down the road. They moved over into the single, open passing lane, past a row of personnel and tanker trucks parked on the right side, and Martin could make out the orange glow of a fire below him. After five minutes, the once-trapped cars were free to gain speed through refreshingly clear air in the descent to Wallace at the base of the Coeur d’Alene Mountains and to race on to the west.
The delays had cost him at least an hour, and a six-hour drive at the minimum still lay before him. Martin now realized that if he was going to catch his flight to Greece, his best remaining option was to abandon the idea of driving all the way to the SeaTac airport, and instead to catch one of the hourly flights from Spokane to Seattle. Feeling woefully technologically challenged to book a flight from his car, he speed-dialed his daughter with a single tap on his cell phone but there was no answer. He next fumbled at the menu and tried his friend Frank.
“Martin, what’s up?” asked Frank. “You can’t be there already, can you?”
“Not hardly, Frank.” said Martin. “This trip isn’t getting off to the best start. Thanks to your send-off, I have a massive hangover, and to make matters worse, I’ve been held up by a forest fire that flared up just west of Lookout Pass. Now I don’t think I can make Seattle in time for my flight out of there.”
“Why don’t you just fly from Spokane, since it’s on the way?” asked Frank sagely.
“Well, that’s why I called,” said Martin. “I was thinking the same thing, but I don’t know how to make a reservation or look up the number on this phone - especially while I’m driving. Can you do me a favor and make a reservation for me? I should make it to Spokane in an hour and a half, so how about the next available flight in two and a half hours or so?”
“Wellll,” said Frank drawing out his answer as long as possible. “I suppose so, but it’ll cost you a beer.”
Martin could imagine him grinning on the other end of the connection. “OK,” said Martin with feigned reluctance, “put it on my tab.”
“Will do!” said Frank. “I’ll ring you back if there’s a problem, but have a good trip if I don’t.”
“Thanks a lot, Frank, I owe you one. See you when I get back.”
Feeling much more relaxed, Martin settled into the remainder of his drive as he hit the flat expanse between the mountains and Spokane with an increased speed limit to look forward to.
 Author’s Note: A synopsis of The Tempest is provided at the end of the novel.