My mother is driving us away from Spokane International Airport when she tells me about the elk. Before dawn, she warmed her Ford Ranger and headed into town, planning to catch up on some work before I arrived from Baltimore. At one moment there was no elk. And the next: elk. A world of elk and the metallic rip of something under the hood, the sort of sound I fear on the long flights home. That undeniable knowledge that something has gone horribly wrong.