The Mustache Man

Chapter Seven




Pete finished his story in a few minutes. Then he slept for a long time. This time Carlton didn’t have to vanish to visit Shul. She just left and inserted a hand written note in the pocket of his shirt. His story hadn’t really flowed. How could the Mustache Man’s life flow? He had left too often to anchor himself in one place and one time for long except with Chance Montclair and Jewels and Bert. He’d actually lasted a year or two with them.

“It’s happening again. I return from the road. This time it’s the Sangre De Christo mountains. The town is Crestone. Eight thousand feet altitude. Cold at night. Stars. Quiet, blessed quiet except at a restaurant called the”Bliss” where a not so blissful family drink themselves silly. The father and mother laugh louder and louder and the baby toddler imitates their drunken laughter. So this place I return to again and again when I disappear is infected by the noise.”

            “What do you mean by the noise?”

            Carlton had gotten used to Pete Vargas skipping over time. She just kept recording and typing.

            Pete didn’t answer her question. So she repeated it.

“What do you mean by the noise?
            “The part that makes me disappear. I swore I wouldn’t ever carry one of those…”

            “Cell phones.”

            “Yes. So when I got back…”

            “Wait. You’ve skipped again. How did you get back? From where? This town called Crestone at the foot of the Sangre De Christo mountains?”

            “Rented a car. Maybe I bought a car. I don’t remember. The car’s gone now. Everything and everyone in my life is gone each time I disappear. But it doesn’t matter. I can go to a junkyard and buy a hulk of steel and turn it into a working machine. I can build and fix cars.”

            Carlton shook her head. She couldn’t get Pete Vargas to tell his life story in any kind of sequence. She would just let him go and prod him with questions to keep him on track.

            “Where did you learn to build and fix cars?”’

            “On the streets in San Francisco. Dirty Bob owned a car. He shared. He said I had abilities.”

            “To do what?”

            “To fix things. He said I had a mind like a machine.”

            “What does that mean?”

            ‘Every sound and image from anything electronic imprints itself on my mind. I record and learn from what I see and hear until I become the machine. But if I stay near anything machine like too long there’s this pressure that builds up and I begin to waver. It’s why I have to stay away from them.”


            “I pods, smart phones lab tops. I can’t use them anymore.”

            “What are you saying?”

            “The noise of all this overwhelms me. It’s everywhere. I can’t prove it but I think it is part of why I vanish.

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