Walter Ate a Peanut and Passed On
Greta knew that Walter couldn’t eat peanuts. He was deathly allergic to them. His parents had discovered this one day when he popped a peanut into his ever-exploring mouth at the age of two. He was rushed to the hospital and from that day forward was never again given a peanut or anything containing peanuts.
As he grew older, he often wondered what they tasted like and what he was missing. In 1955, he met and married Greta Moussleman, the love of his life, with whom he sired and helped raise five children without peanuts, for fear that one of them might have Walter’s deadly allergy. One by one, the children would secretly discover that they did not share their father’s burden, and would go on to lead full and happy peanut-eating lives.
So it was a shock to hear of their father’s sudden death, and even more disturbing that it had been caused by ingestion of not one, but upwards of the equivalent of 35 peanuts. Equivalent is the word used, because the peanuts had been dry roasted and finely ground into a powder that had been sprinkled onto Walter’s morning oatmeal. Greta insisted it wasn’t she who had ground and sprinkled the peanuts, and her children could find no reason to suspect that their father’s mate of some 56 years would have cause for murder.
Shortly thereafter, Greta passed away like so many forlorn mates of deceased loved ones and the mystery of Walter’s death continued to haunt the children until Eric, the oldest son, discovered a secret cash of peanuts in his father’s workshop cabinet, along with a sealed envelop that read: upon my death.
Eric was shocked to read the words of the letter within, and decided that none of his siblings should ever know their father’s final thoughts about life, about the miserable years he spent in a loveless marriage, his hatred of his wife, and how the irresistible urge to try the forbidden legume was more appealing than continuing to put up with Greta.
Eric shortly thereafter became depressed and went on medication.
No one could understand why.
If Susanna could ride a horse, she would, because her mother wanted it. But she was afraid of horses. They were big and massive, and like her mother’s horse, Trajan, sometimes mean and unpredictable. It was Trajan who had crushed her father’s foot. Whenever she tried feeding Trajan when she was younger, he would ignore her, as if she didn’t exist.
Susanna’s father, an equine veterinarian, had often observed how much alike horse and rider became over time. He had made a fortune healing the expensive show horses of San Diego County, allowing him to provide his family with everything his money could buy. He had recently given his wife a Porsche Cayenne, in which she could drive to the country club and golf with her friends. He gave Susanna a new laptop to take away to college. He gave her brother, Austin, a trip to South Padre Island for spring break. It was Austin who had mixed alcohol and drugs and returned home a vegetable. Her mother blamed her father, even though it was she who had ordered the plane tickets from Expedia and packed condoms in Austin’s bag.
Tomorrow, Susanna would be driven to the airport and return to Wharton, to continue the pretense of her life. Tonight she was at home with Austin. Her parents had left her to care for him, while they attended a dinner honoring the president of the Del Mar Equine Breeders Club. Her father hated the man, because he had undermined his practice in the late 90’s forcing him into early retirement. Susanna didn’t care. Austin couldn’t care, because he had the perception of a five year old.
Susanna left him inside to watch reruns of The OC, and walked down the path toward the stable. Up ahead, she could see the large dark shadow of Trajan at the edge of the fence. How she wished for him to like her, to gently take a carrot from her hand, to accept her for who she was. As she neared, the faint glow of moonlight outlined Trajan’s massive frame. She cautiously held out her hand, and Trajan stepped backwards, not out of fear, but defiance. He had never understood this frail little being before him. He never would. Inside the house, Austin was startled by a loud snap of a sound that momentarily disrupted his focus on the pretty girls in the beer commercial.
The next day, upon returning from the airport, Susanna’s father would discover a pistol missing from the den. Much to her horror, Susanna’s mother would discover the depth of her daughter’s hatred