Well, let's grant him this: In the air, you don't have people asking you questions you don't want to answer. Asking for your opinion about things you'd rather not discuss. Expecting you to be a spokesperson for a political cause because you've graced the cover of Turkish Cosmopolitan. You may have noticed that Matthew Fox does not lend his name to causes, alliances, or efforts of any kind. While we are perched on the pickup's tailgate, it just so happens that Ben Affleck has returned to the Congo, to do what he, as an actor, can to save the world. A few months earlier, Clooney, who seems to have joined the State Department, visited Sudan. So why haven't we seen Matthew Fox—Ivy League grad, well-read and thoughtful guy—visiting any beleaguered nations, or speaking out about anything more controversial than the flame job on his 1950 Merc? This question brings him up short. He chooses his words carefully. "Up to this point I've made a conscious choice not to do that. To be quite honest with you, I'm a little reticent to step into that whole thing. This isn't knocking anybody. If they make a positive change, then that's great. I'm just not sure that I feel that I have . . . the right to . . . I don't know, man, I really kind of struggle with it.

"I'm an actor. I try to play a character in a really cool story, the very best I can. And somehow or other that does make people very interested in what I have to say. And I think that, being the stubborn bastard I am . . . the more people want to hear what it is I have to say, the more I kind of . . . not say anything.

"What I'm trying to say is I don't think that's my place. Sometimes people look to others for answers they can find within themselves. I don't really want the responsibility of being the guy they look to."

He's hopped off the tailgate, a signal that there will be no more answers this evening. He has to get back to Fast Ed, and talk with another guy about the next potential project in his life—restoring a '66 Chevelle.

The parking lot is dark now; Fox's profile is etched against the pink neon piping of a strip club across the street, with plywood turrets and bars on the doors and windows. It's called Fantasy Castle. Fox turns his back on that particular reverie to return to the glow of the garage and the gleaming black Merc—a monster entirely of his own creation.