The Mustache Man

Chapter Seventeen


            Pete stopped stretching and said. “Carlton, if I took you into the storm there’d be a wind, no not a wind a hurricane. It would shred all your screens and hurl your monitor against the wall. I don’t know if even this vault could survive it.”

            “The vault was built to survive anything. We’re in a shelter that can shield us from any storm. ”

            “Would you follow me, really?”

            “Oh, yes. I’d follow you and I’d find out who’s hunting you. “


            Later it was as simple as this. There was a small breeze and Carlton knew he was going to take her into his storm. Then there came a popping sound as if someone had let the air out of a balloon. The air smelt of smoke. They were inside darkness. There was the soft stroke of lightning against water. Behind them something walked on the water making a grinding buzzing sound.

            Carlton heard the Mustache Man singing: “ Who’s that walking on the water/ while my boat is sinking fast./ He’s doing what I think I oughta /There’s a god walking on the water.

            “New Testament.”

            “Yeah I read the book.”

            “I love your voice, Mustache Man.”

            No wind gathered, not yet.   Carlton reached out and took Pete Vargas’ hand in hers. He was not afraid. He had been inside this place so many times there was a kind of peace to it.



            They had been inside this vault at least a week or so. All that time Pete had been growing back his mustache. When they disappeared together all that was left of him in the vault was his mustache quivering in the air then wavering then his mustache was gone and all that was left was screen after screen playing the scene from the Asphalt Jungle where the thief falls among the horses and they nuzzle him as he dies. But the Mustache Man was not dying he was alive in a moving storm with something behind him grinding down matter like a walking blender and Carlton’s hand in his. It was not Carlton the angel who comforted the Mustache Man it was Pete Vargas who comforted her.

           They were in the storm. The Mustache Man was talking again to Carlton even as they heard the steps of the figure grinding down matter behind them.

            “I go into churches, catholic, Presbyterian it doesn’t matter. I’ve been doing this a long time since I hit the streets. And I sing the hyms, really simple ones like “Hear my prayer Lord, hear my prayer” and that one about the “lamb of god you take away the sins of the world have mercy on us. “ And I just let my voice blend with the band playing on this little stage and once at a catholic church called The Casa this big fat priest who looked like Friar Tuck with red splotchy cheeks invited me to come on stage and sing with the band and I did that. But the best part has always been when some little old lady or some woman in her forties and fifties r sings with me or listens to me. Once this little old lady told me as the mass ended that “she loved my voice.” Carlton, this is the only time I’m grounded enough to stay around for a while and live.”

            There was an explosion of sound behind them, more grinding, buzzing. Carlton wanted to turn around but the Mustache Man squeezed her hand tight and whispered, “not yet, Carlton. I’m not ready to see who’s following me, not yet.”

            “And the only other time I’ve been grounded, wanted to stay without yielding to the urge to let the storm take me somewhere, someplace is when I was with Chance and Jewels and Bert.”

Then it hit Pete. With Carlton’s ice cold hand in his, with the grinding buzzing figure following him into the storm, he knew when they had disappeared they’d broken the connection with chance. He’d lost Chance and Jewels and Bert once again.

“And now I’ve lost her,” said Pete as the wind began to pick up inside the storm.

            Carlton smiled at him and then she turned around at the thing coming toward them devouring everything in its path. She extended her arms and light grew out of her arms like two swords. Pete heard her say, “Don’t worry, Mustache Man. I’ve got your back.”


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