The Mustache Man

Chapter Eleven


            Carlton didn’t have to worry anymore about Pete Vargas leaving The Vault. She would finish a shift and then visit Shul and when she returned he would be there. She’d left him a list of all of the black and white films she kept. He would either be sleeping or watching a film when she returned. Sometimes he barely acknowledged her and sometimes he quietly turned in his recliner and leaned back. He waited for their next interview to begin.

            “I change and then everything and everyone changes around me. I change inside and when I return I swear the world is not the same."

            “What do you mean?”

            “I have vast inner spaces: rooms, caverns unexplored oceans. I explore and if I’m not careful I won’t be able to find my way back.”

            “Quiet places inside you. That’s a good thing, isn’t it?”

            “It can be. Unless I feel I’m changing and when I return and step into this world it doesn’t feel the same. It doesn’t even smell the same.”

            “It doesn’t smell the same?”

            “There was this time in Phoenix. I was an at a spring exhibition game. I got up to get a beer and a hot dog and I vanished before I reached the top of the stairs. This was one of those really short disappearances. When I left it was the third inning and when I returned it was the bottom of the ninth. It was a different part of the stadium. When I left I could smell the hot dogs and the beer and when I returned there was a burnt smell as though someone had been grilling sausages and charring them to ashes.”

            “So you disappear at a baseball game and you disappear when you’re with a loved one.”

            “And when I return I’m a stranger to myself and a stranger to the one I love. Chance couldn’t stand it. She’d throw things at me to bring out of it, the strangeness I mean.”

            “And are you a stranger to god as well when you return?”

            Pete gave Carlton a look that made her wish she hadn’t asked that question. The question had left her lips before she could censor it. She had a feeling god was a touchy subject with the Mustache Man.


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