In the rear view mirror he could see all he has ever known. An entire place, an entire life captured in that small shimmering rectangle and growing smaller the further away he drove. Fields stretched out as far as his eye could tell, fields of legumes that once harvested would be salted and sold off as peanuts. Packets of peanuts that would come to be the signature scent and sight at countless fairs or festivals.
The year was 1938. Texas.
His invention was simple enough any fool could copy it twice over and still make a fortune. It was a texture thing, “peanut butter” they had begun to call it. Though once told nobody believed something so creamy did in fact contain no dairy whatsoever. He was setting out to make his fortune with a trunk filled to the brim with jars of the delicious umber paste.
Months slipped into each other, nights and days rolled into one and then rolled out onto neverending roads. No named roads cutting through the continent in a great zigzag pattern. Chicago was the first proper city, with its crummy alleyways and expanse of dim yellow lights constantly flickering through the night, where he sold the most jars. Making enough to treat himself to a bourbon somewhere hidden. Her voice called out to him, a mythical siren stuck on land whose pitch resonated somewhere deep within his chest. The bar was sticky, salty with sweat and smoky with cheap cigarettes. In his mind’s eye the air which stood between him and her was crystal clear. A vast and endless chasm dividing them.
He nicknamed her Date and when she found out, she could only laugh. Her tawny skin and rich flavor undeniably suited the reference. Passing through California they stopped off to buy crates full of the shriveled sweet fruit.
They survived that winter on dunking dates into peanut butter, sleeping wrapped in secondhand coats on the backseat of a Chrysler.
What happened after was neither here nor there. Both and neither were to blame. For they would always have the year of 1938.
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