1. Thursday, February 20, 2003

    thank you, sweet people. 

    of all the things that i love about the internet, the number one thing that i love is you.

    pedro started his day at the gas station like he always did, with a quick trip to the repair bay in the back where they kept the mop and the bucket and the soap and the bong.

    got everything together and cleaned the mens room and then the womans room.

    then he put the mop and bucket back and flipped over the signs to read Full Serve, asked the white girl in the booth if the gas prices are right and she told them that she changed them at 5.

    it was six a.m.

    he filled up his water bottle with pink windshield wiper fluid, unfolded his clean blue long handtowel and tucked it into his backpocket, leaned up against a gas pump and tried to watch the sun come up but was disturbed by the bell of the day’s first motorist.

    pedro worked with 7 other guys. it was an all full-serve gas station in beverly hills.

    the power window zoomed down and a man who looked strangely familiar to charles bronson hissed, “super,” and handed over an american express platinum card.

    black chevy tahoe. up high. no bumper stickers. no valet stubs. no jack in the box antenna ball.

    pedro unscrewed the gas cap, put the hose into the side of the truck, remembered to click Super Unleaded, clicked the trigger into the lock, stepped over the hose and walked the card up to the cashier window and slid it into the slot.

    the white girl saw the name on the credit card and flinched and then strained out at the tahoe at pump four.

    pedro returned to the car. he walked happily because he is so fucking positive about everything it would make you puke.

    he removed the squeegee from the bin. one of the fellas had just completed his morning chore of cleaning the bins, filling them with hot soapy water and hanging them back on the islands.

    just as he was about to throw the sponge edge on to the windshield he heard and then saw the driver’s side window zoom down, noticed the motion of the hand slitting the throat, as a director would if he was yelling “cut,” and pedro froze in mid motion.

    unfortunately, the momentum of the squeegee produced a wad of hot soapy water which was flung directly on the center of the newly-detailed windshield.

    the wipers began, two straight squirts of blue wiperfluid shot perfectly from under the hood onto the glass, went left to right once, twice and then back under. that quick. no streaks and then the water evaporated.

    the driver’s window zoomed back up.

    pedro returned the squeegee to the bin. checked out the truck from afar, returned to the driver’s window and pointed at the hood.

    he heard it click. unlocked.

    reached under, lifted it up and saw absolute perfection.

    lots of computerized boxes and wires and steel and hard plastic, and all so clean.

    a little man appeared out of radiator overflow reservoir and tipped his top hat at pedro. the little man was about six inches tall.

    “just top off the wiper fluid,” the man said, bowed, and hopped back into the empty plastic tank.

    pedro topped it off, finished up with charles bronson, and returned to the cashier booth with the signed credit card receipt.

    the white girl chewing gum in the bullet proof glass booth took the receipt from pedro and smiled at him.

    so he squirted a little window cleaner right above her voice box slit and returned his bottle to it’s holster, otherwise known as his back pocket.

    manny wiped it off a minute later.