Monday, April 26, 2010

Hold that tiger

*** Sixth in a series ***

Max LeMonk, the monkey puppet, and I wandered down the long and reaching highway. Surrounded by the motionless desert, we could hear a car speeding up from behind us for what seemed like an eternity. Max and I stuck out our thumbs (mine opposable, Max’s not so), but the car just sped by, creating a blinding swirl of road dust.

Once the dust settled, we were surprised to be standing in front of a gas station. The station itself was an art deco-ey building with a one bay repair garage attached. The pumps had the mechanical rolling numbers, and the maximum price the pumps could show is 99.9 cents per gallon.

A Texaco sign stood at the road.

Max and I watched as the car which sped by returned and pulls up to the pump. Out of the garage came a gas station attendant, dressed meticulously in a grayish outfit with a military captain-style hat with a big, bright Texaco star. With full attention to his duties, he did not notice us. But we surely noticed him.

It was don Rey Ortega, the ventriloquist shaman. The nagual.

“See, He has a job. I told you he couldn’t be making enough money doing his freaky ventriloquism act,” Max said to me. The sound of Max’s voice drew don Rey’s attention, and the sight of us startled him.
Well' I'm the one usually doing the surprising. How did you get way out here without a car?
The car at the pump beeped its horn, and don Rey dutifully squeegeed the windshield. The motion of his hand coincided with the hood of the car rising and falling like mouth, and the car began to sing:
“You can trust your car to the man who wears the star, the big, bright Texaco star.”
I stood in wonder. Even Max was amazed at the magic of the singing car. “Not, bad, Rey-mondo,” Max said to don Rey. “That trick could play Vegas. Not the big stages, but one of the off strip places.” Don Rey grinned at Max, and inexplicably threw dirt on Max’s shoes.

We looked down at the dirt, and when we looked back up, the star on don Rey’s hat had changed to a green dinosaur, and the word Texaco had changed to Sinclair. Then we heard a noise from inside the station, and a plastic-looking dinosaur with a nametag "Dino" poked his head out of the door and spoke:
Give the soda machine a little kick and it'll pour you a glass of Bubbleup.
“Now that wasn’t as good,” Max said to don Rey. “I saw your lips move when you said Bubbleup.” don Rey grinned again, when we became surrounded by cars, and as each one pulled up, the attendant's bell rang.
When cars pull up and drive over that old torn up hose the bell rings anyway. The sun plays tricks out here and people sometimes see things they want to see or don't want to see.
Don Rey attended to another car, and as he pointed, I could hear him giving directions to a resort area.  "That's about 160 miles from here," he cordially told the driver, and offered the driver a coupon book of hotel deals. It made me realize how don Rey was giving guidance to travelers, just as a nagual should.
They just come out here to fill up with something. Give the machine another kick and get yourself another pop.
Over the pop machine, the gas station sign had changed again to Esso, and in italics the words "Put a tiger in your tank". A car sped down the highway, creating another dust plume. The gas station disappeared, and in its place was a wooden state historical marker, but the inscription read:
The whole thing is Mind over Matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.
And carved into the wood was a note that read:
"Max, you just get madder! Hehe! xoxo, don Rey."
***
Don Rey Ortega knows how to top off an  tank with premium entertainment. Check reyortegaentertainment.com for a barrel of refined showmanship. Go elsewhere if you are looking for a barrel of crude.

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