They’d seen the world go by outside the Impala’s windows, innumerable lives glimpsed. They’d flown through roads twisting along the Pacific coast, listening to the surf crash against the high bluffs there, the sound of the gulls crying high overhead. They’d seen little Midwest towns decked out for the fourth of July, everything draped in red, white, and blue, the boy scouts marching in the parade. They’d seen just about every monument and attraction- from Mt. Rushmore to Gettysburg to the world’s biggest ball of twine. They’d caught salmon trying to swim to the headwaters of cold mountain streams and lazy catfish down deep in the Mississippi. They’d passed by funeral processions and wedding caravans, shoes and kitchen utensils hanging from the undercarriage.
They’d seen kids of every size and shape and color playing every game under the sun, their activities only limited by the bounds of their imaginations and the amount of daylight left. They’d seen untouched snowfall on pines of the far north and the scorching deserts no human could tolerate for long. They’d listened to cicadas whirr and peepers croak in the trees on still southern evenings when the humidity made those last daylight hours a haze of honey-colored sun. They’d crunched apples pulled off Appalachian trees, smelled sweet, fresh-cut hay of the western plains, watched cotton bob in the Indian-summer breeze.
The Winchesters had seen it all, but blessed few had ever really seen them, seen them for what they were. At most they were a couple guys in a big black car and then nothing but the lingering smell of gasoline and a black smear on the horizon.
After they were gone the country didn’t change much. The air still smelled sweeter after a rain, the best ice-cream money could buy was still up in Amish country, and kids still played madly in the streets of their hometowns, those asphalt tracks holding worlds and worlds of possibilities.
But sometimes, on a late-August day deep in the afternoon, the kind of afternoon that’s so hot nothing moves- not kids, not bees, not even the air- there would be a shimmer on the road and little stirrings in the grass clippings and gravel there.
On cold mornings in New England- dark mornings that come to early and that are so bitterly cold your lungs deflate and your sinuses sting- sometimes there would be a puff of exhaust curling in the air when no car had passed by and the pattern of the snowfall would change a little bit, swirling around something that was no longer there.
Occasionally those winding Pacific coast roads would still crunch and a burst of wind rattle the leaves on trees nearby, even on days with no cars, no weather to be seen, the kind of sudden breeze that hits you after a car flies by, hugging the curves, reveling in acceleration.
The Winchesters had crossed the country more times than anyone could count, their family car a veteran of the pavement; they’d made the roads their home and it had risen up beneath their wheels. They were a part of it now, brothers passed into legend (sometimes, if you listen, you can still hear the growl of their big black car pulling up, her passengers come to smite the darkness). They were a part of the lore they had so long studied, their heaven that roadtrip they never truly took- no choices, no heartache, no impossible responsibilities.
Just two brothers, their family car, and the open road.