The race car driver shelled pistachios as he drove.
The pistachios were shipped to him from a specific farmer in New Mexico.
The shells of the pistachios were dyed pale colors.
This dying process was their trademark.
The race car driver shelled his pistachios with one hand.
He used his ring and pinkie finger to hold the nut and his thumb to split.
He had short, powerful fingers.
At the end of any race he won the shells were flung into the crowd by the handful.
He won many races, so this was done often.
He had trophies of gold and silver and bronze.
He had plates of platinum and steel.
He had inscribed objects of glass, crystal, and marble.
He had medallions and medals on blue and white and red ribbon.
People pierced and subsequently wore the pistachio shells on gold and sterling silver chains. The race car driver refused to comment on the pistachios, or their shells, or the people wearing them like treasures, to the press.
He talked in a general way to the press; to people, very little.
He would use his face sometimes, or his short, powerful fingers.
His favorite meal was moules frites.
This was the sort of information he would reveal.
Interviewers laughed, kept laughing.
The race car driver was photographed in the company of Willem de Kooning, the abstract painter.
He is reported to have said we both make lines on a flat plane.
The report is dubious, the reporter a known embellisher, a one-time novelist, but the race car driver did in fact meet the abstract painter Willem De Kooning.
de Kooning was old, and no longer spoke.
He still painted – airy, open forms.
The race car driver appeared boy-like his picture by the old Willem de Kooning.
The race car driver wore a single leather glove on all occasions.
He never married.
People loved the race car driver.
They loved him especially for the sense of potential, as much as for his strong jaw, trim body, luxurious clothes, and combed waves of brown hair.
(It is well known that people will disregard the wrong handsome for the right one.)
They also loved his buffed, ultramarine car.
They loved the number four painted on the side, a white san serif numeral against a black circle.
Women, and sometimes, men appeared in it when the race car driver returned to it from elsewhere.
It was for them, they felt; it was their number being called.
They said charming things, or erotically shocking things.
The race car driver suggested a martini.
He drove them to the bar near the Chateau Marmont, or somewhere like it, then drove away.
He was as unrumpled when he sat as when he rose.
The race car driver didn't crash.
No pistachio shell lodged itself beneath the brake or accelerator, preventing its depression or easing at a crucial moment.
His driving hand didn't slip as he took a difficult turn, not while his concentration was on splitting a tough shell's joint.
There was no dark turn, no ironic autobiographical anti-climax.
It was age. He was slower. There were many changes to race car driving, which he couldn't keep up with. He lost races. He wisely retired. A life lacks its drama.
The race car driver ate his pistachios on an Adirondack chair in Malibu, California. In his hand was a coupe of sambuca. His pistachio shells fell into the sand. They tumbled clean in the ocean. They became sand. The race car driver became less trim. He didn't have the intense activity of race car driving to offset the nutrient density of pistachios, croissants, coffee with cream, moules frites, and sirloin with buttery asparagus or penne arrabiata. He thought of making a quilt of his worn Angora sweaters. He brought his phone out with him and used the internet to learn about handicrafts. His chestnut hair was spiked and slashed with silver. He saw his own jowls on the phone's screen when he turned it off. The Adirondack chair's legs rotted in the night surf. Another Adirondack chair was delivered after a phone order to a company he found on the internet. He spoke less and less. He refused to enter areas with swimming pools, saying the chlorinated light gave him migraines. He heard an owl outside his lavish apartment by the sea in Malibu, California. He'd seen rats running on the beach at night. Sometimes he walked the beach at night with a camping lantern. He imagined what it would be like to be an owl gliding over an open black vaulted space. He realized he didn’t need to imagine. He knew. He often smiled. He wore large sunglasses. He turned his chair away from the sea. Sitting there he'd be sprayed on the back of his neck by the tide. He laughed like a child, surprised.