Before the outlaw couple part ways forever, they empty the refrigerator into the oven. In goes raw chicken. In go carrots. In goes a brick of butter, a pound of beef, and a half gallon of milk. In goes a mystery product wrapped in foil, which lands atop a head of lettuce and a tomato. In goes leftover lasagna. Peanut butter. Jam. Slices of pie. Four beers. A jar of pickles. You get the idea. Everything is stuffed into the oven because they don’t want to leave anything to waste. And when the chilled shelves are bare, they set the oven temperature to 325 degrees Fahrenheit, sit at a small kitchen table, and wait for the aromas to prick their noses.
First comes a caress of warm bread that reminds them of quiet Sunday mornings, of sleeping in and heavy blankets. Next are cooked onions, a stew. That one winter storm that left them housebound for five days as they planned their fourth heist. Something sweetly sugared is a ferry to chocolate treats at celebratory dinners. An acidic itch of protein and pickles makes one say, “Your grandpa in prison.” The other: “Chattanooga.”
These blooms collect into a ghastly bouquet for hours, until finally smoke and flames lick the kitchen walls. While the house burns, the couple kiss, pick up their bags, and walk outside to two cars. One drives south, the other northwest.
Both to freedom.
But the smell of smoke remains on their clothes, and later that night, safely in new destinations, the outlaw couple, now separate forever, each wonder if this burnt smell will be the scent they remember most about their parting.