Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ventriloquists on the storm

*** Fifth in a Series ***

Max LeMonk, the monkey puppet, and I wandered across the vacant, arid flats; the hills so gradual, the mountain peeks so far from our spot, that the loneliness of our journey is all the more real. “I told you, ask directions! Buy a map! But no… Trust the wind, you say!”

“It’s what don Rey would do,” I told Max, and nodded with peaceful assurance, referring to don Rey Ortega, the ventriloquist nagual.* Max’s eyes rolled, and he began mocking me. “And I suppose if don Rey Ortega jumped off the Empire State Building, you would jump off the Empire State Building, too?”

I look at Max, and wished him enlightenment. Although the air is still, there is a whistling sound across the flats. Impulsively I start to mum, slowly graduating to mouthing and singing, “I’ve been cross the desert on a horse with no name, and there’s gonna be a whole lotta rain…”
“That’s ‘good to be out of the rain’,” Max corrected me with frustration. And after I miss-sang another lyric, again he was stern. “Say it with me: The desert is an ocean with it's life underground...."

A voice startled us from behind:
Well this is very true.
It was don Rey Ortega.

“Agghh! I hate when you do that!” Max screamed. Surprisingly, his voice did not echo, but fell flat on the flat. Don Rey just smiled, and waved his hand to guide our eyes across the landscape, and spoke:
As you look around all you see are a few scraggly creosote bushes, rolling cholla and an occasional beavertail cactus. We are actually standing in the middle of a desert Superhighway.
Max gritted his teeth. “Oh please tell me there’s an off ramp coming up.” Don Rey just smiled, and inexplicably threw dirt on Max’s shoes.

If you look carefully you will notice small well worn paths that go in many directions. This is where the road the Jackrabbit uses every day followed by the coyote in pursuit of his meal. Here are the tracks of quail that move in groups from bush to bush.
In the distance, the howl of a coyote broke the quiet, and the sound of a covey** of quail surrounded us, although no birds could be seen. I stood mystified. Max whispered in my ear, “funny how the don’s Adam’s apple wiggles when we heard the birds.” Don Rey grinned.
Some tracks can remain in the sand for hundreds of years or disappear in the wind within moments. Here are lizard and stinkbug tracks.
At these words, Max began to wiggle and giggle, then started scratching and brushing himself. “Stinkbugs! The old fart put stinkbugs on me!” Don Rey took out an old handkerchief, blew his nose, and Max stopped itching.

We followed the sun towards the horizon. In a distance, there was a shape, which as we got closer looked like the bones of a dead water buffalo, but max quickly pointed out that they were not indigenous to this continent. As we got closer, we could see that it was an old rusted plow, standing alone. Don Rey smiled as if it was an old friend.
This old rusted plow shows no trace of how it got here. This land has never been used for farming. Some people come here to meditate and leave flowers for the poor soul who tried to bring the plow out west with the rest of his dreams only to leave it behind in the desert heat.
I reflected on the poor man and his dreams. I asked don Rey whether he thought the plow was meant to be left behind as a symbol, a temple, a homage to dreamers. “Oh, gag me. Now you’re talking like him,” Max muttered. Don Rey threw the sound of a hyena, a predator of monkeys, behind the plow. Max grimaced.

Some people have too many dreams to carry and life reduces the amount to what is needed. But that's not what happened in this case. This is a movie prop left behind by Oliver Stone when he made the movie "The Doors" Part of the LSD dream sequence. The plow sequence was left on the cutting room floor just as the plow was left here.
Then, we looked to see a single black rain cloud race towards us. A burst of rain soaked me. I looked up and let the water run down my face. Max hid under my armpit. Then the rain disappeared. The cloud disappeared.

And don Rey disappeared. Left on the old plow was an autographed picture of Jim Morrison. Out of his mouth there was a cartoon quote balloon, making Jim appear to say:
Dreams can lead you or leave you. What will yours do for you?
As well, there was a mint-condition 45-rpm recording of Light My Fire.
***
* A nagual is a shaman teacher, and leader to wisdom. Really. I don’t make this stuff up.
** A covey what a group of quail is called. The other word for it would be bevy, which is not as cool.

***
Don Rey Ortega un-dons himself when he performs as Rey Ortega, multitalented guy and most excellent ventriloquist. You can find out all about Rey by visiting reyortegaentertainment.com, or asking his wife, Kiyomi.

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