11. ExperimentThere was no shame in having a town kick your ass, Kurt thought as he navigated the highway construction zone. No shame at all.

Wasn’t anyone’s fault really. Girl didn’t work out. Job didn’t work out. Sometimes, things just don’t work out.

Did the trunk feel loaded down with guilt, humiliation and embarrassment? Sure. It was supposed to, Kurt thought. Things hadn’t gone well, and he was tucking his tail between his legs and headed home.

You don’t win every battle, he thought, although it would have been nice to have won a couple. The Great Experiment — moving halfway across the country for love — had failed. And, so, it was time to leave. If scientists have a failed experiment, they don’t zone off that section of the lab. They clean up and start over. That’s all this was. Cleaning up. Starting over.

She asked him to stay, even though the relationship was over. Having him in town made her feel better, she said. Once he realized that making her feel better wasn’t his job, the decision was easy. It was time to go home.

He cleared the construction zone, did some quick mental math and realized that with some luck, he’d be in his hometown, where people knew him and he knew them, before dark. He’d gotten an early start, and the long summer day would help.

When his tire blew 20 minutes later, though, he realized his ass still had a couple more kickings left in it.