...where the music is like water rushing through you ... your function is really like that of a hose



Morton picked up his salt-water- ruined sea cocktail painting and walked beside Tyler down the busy street, his stomach, having been thrown a curve ball, swished papusa gruel. Honestly, our friend Morton couldn’t have looked or felt more foolish. A shambled artist with a hole in his heart, dreadful painting/raft board in hand, half-cooked by the acute gleam of the relentless tropical sun, caked in salt , coated in dust, without a hay-penny to his name and fresh off his first double murder. All that was left on Morton’s agenda for the day was a parking ticket, molar extraction and death of beloved childhood pet. Morton was a couple more luckless weeks away from spending the remainder of his days as an El Salvadorian sharecropper. The tandem bantered back and forth.

“Don’t tell anyone about this.”

“Relax, we’re pals,” Tyler tried not to laugh, “I’ll just say you were swallowed by a whale…exiled from the belly of a sea beast… Ok, our little secret. I promise,” and so he promised – a whore’s oath. “I’ve arranged somebody for you to meet, we got to sell some paintings before-”

Morton stopped in his tracks and cut Tyler off, “I can’t meet anybody looking like this!”

“Don’t worry, you’re fine.”

“Who is it? Wait, I don’t even have any paintings,” An image of a shoe horn and throwing 'Sunny the peach smuggler' into the ocean flashed through Morton’s brain, “What kind of art collector did you find in this God-forsaken place anyway?”

“This cat, I’m not sure what he does exactly, but he’s got class and cash.”

“Where’d you meet him?”

“At the village, he’s funding the entire clinic project, I just drive into town every once and a while and he gives me all the money to buy the materials and pay mi trabajadors. No questions asked. No checks, no nothing. All cash! I even get to keep the car for a little bit too! Got a heart of gold!” Tyler threw his hands in the air and rubbed his fingers together, “Philanthropic sugar daddy!”

“Why, did you suggest my work?”

“I know you’re broke, it’s Ok Mort, happens to the best of them. I know Lena was supporting that rats nest up there in Boston.”

“Thanks, for the brisk reminder.”

“Don’t worry this guy is good for it. Likes making deals. Squeaky wheel gets the grease.”

“I don’t even have anything to show.”

“Make something for him custom, you know, a portrait of his daughter or something. Trust me , I talked you up good and I got something planned. We’re in.”

“How much cash are we talking here?”

“I told him they go for fifty-a-pop,” Tyler cut his hand through the air like a trowel.


Tyler peered at Morton out of the corner of his eye. “Ha, fifty-thousand brother. I sort of told him you’re famous.”

Morton exploded, “What! Famous? Famous where? Where am I famous!”

Tyler’s voice inflected in a high pitch, as if Morton should have assumed, “Famous in the states,” he continued, “Mort, relax pal. It’s just a little white lie. I got this taken care of,” patting Morton on the back.

“You fool, what if he finds out I’m not! A simple internet search blows a hole in your grand plan Kimosabe!”

“Internet” Tyler was astounded, “Do you know where you are? Get with the times - impossible. Your stuff can totally pass. Besides, this is my guy, we got a thing. Just draw some triangles or whatever it is you do. How about a giant cigar?” he walked with arms stretched wide, a human clothes-line, “ All suit -types love cigars. Work the room a bit and catch a drift on this guy. All right! That’s the place, we’ll talk it over inside.” Morton mumbled under his breath they have internet, probably got a whole bunch of internets.

The punching rhythm of drum and bass could be heard upon the opening of the door to the El Ranchito. Dark and drowned out, this was the perfect location for Morton. An attractive hostess approached. Tyler pointed at her, “Hector,” she turned and proceeded to walk. Morton and Tyler followed her past a long row of booths until they reached a table in the corner of the Ranchito by the end of the bar. There was nobody in the entire place, yet the music thumped like a prozacked Jamaican sprinter in tap shoes. “This place reeks Manhattan,” Morton breathed like a seal, “Is this where you and Hector plot to save the world or plot to to save the high class escorts?”

The Hector was tall for an El Salvadorian. He and his benevolent, black three-piece suit pursued a slow tango out from behind the bar. He grinned, his gold tooth glimmering with merriment. A leisurely stroll, acting casual, the Hector removed his sunglasses and ran his hands through his heapish hairdo. Morton fixated his gaze upon the Hector’s stunning hairocaust. You could build a nest in there. “Gentleman,” almost perfect English, “Mr. Kobich, always a pleasure. Are we making progress for the children?”

“Absolutely, sir. You know me!” Watching Tyler accept a mister in front of his name and his chummy whit puzzled Morton. The Hector crossed his legs and leaned back, “And you’re my El Greco,” Morton was able to flash through his mind to his introduction to art history class and decipher the El Greco reference. “ I try,” he replied. “Mr. Kobich has told me a lot about you, how was your show in London?”

Morton froze. A fully compressed whole note of awkwardness. My show in London. What did that clown tell him? The rubber has met the road. Thrown to the lions, Morton made the biggest leap into the unknown in his ten thousand days of existence. “ I’d say it was well received,” There was something in that moment that gave him the confidence to lie. The confidence to be somebody else. If you’ve convinced yourself, you’ve convinced the most important person in the room. Lena’s words echoed in his head. There was no better place to pretend. It felt good. He smiled and pretend he did. “The way I handle these, whatever you want to call them , I never sell a painting at a show. I like to give the collector time to absorb my work. Only then, do we dance.” Tyler was the devil on Morton’s shoulder - he was proud.

The hostess placed drinks in front of them, a gift to any man trying to embellish a story. Modelo, it was especial. He immediately tore in. The Hector proceeded while starring directly at the hostess, “Aha, yes, reflection is the key to evaluation. There are many things in life we don’t fully appreciate until they have gotten away.”

“Precisely,” Tyler interjected. The music in the Ranchito fell into the background for the participants. “There are so many exponential crayons in the box, so many insights and inputs into this heterogeneous society…” Oh, here we go. Exponential Crayon Theory. “Think about how many get away? And then you see something, produced by someone with a vision of a specific insight, expressed, in front of your eye. Perhaps, the expression of the creator, can enlighten a past vision once cognitive within yourself and that former flickering glimpse you envisioned, is sitting right in front of you. The work is completely genuine… it’s been there the whole time, waiting for you to discover … and you have to have it.” Morton was lost and had no idea what Tyler was talking about.

The Hector nodded and whispered something to the hostess, then redirected his vision to the table and spoke very deliberately, “I’ve never looked at it quite like that before. So you imply, that there is a timeless connection between the creator and the collector. Interesting, it is not so one sided as it appears. Every piece of art begins with a blank canvas ,piece of paper, or whatever and then out of that is created one man’s trash, which is really linked to someone else’s thoughts, this visionary as you describe. The collector is not a judge, but more or less on a mission to find his suppressed cognitive visions.” Morton was still trying to decode what Dr. Tyler was trying to convey, but the Hector was apparently repeating the theory verbatim. The Hector keep right on going, “When brought together, however it may be, the other individual or other half, finds it, and as you conclude, must have it.” The three sat pondering for a moment. The Hector continued his thought, “So, Mr. Smiley, this creates something of an intriguing question. Have you produced something that has captured one of my previous visions, that I, must have? I see you brought something with you, would you mind showing it to me?”

Next to Morton’s leg rested his most meaningless painting. Battered by the ocean and dour to begin with. He should have just thrown it in the garbage upon reaching land, but he didn’t, and now he was being asked to explain his hapless painting. It would have been easier for Morton to explain the second law of thermodynamics at this juncture, but Morton collected himself and began to talk. “Well, you see, I don’t exactly have anything with me worth presenting. Unfortunately, I shipped my works back to the US. As a result, I just have this experimental piece, which I soaked in salt water, or, rather, I should probably provide some background to it’s origination. See, I soaked myself in salt water with the painting - to flesh that out, ha, it was an exercise in absurdity that I drafted from an ancient baptism ritual performed by your El Salvadorian ancestors. It’s quite an irrational practice today of course, for it’s a quack I’m certain, probably derived by an all-knowing Witchdoctor to protect the child from dooming calamities later on in life. You know, the usual. I am, of course, referencing to native El Salvadorians, not the guys on the boat who were of course, Catholic?” Morton had no idea how El Salvador was settled, and thus, his speech began to figuratively tip toe, “From this ritual, which I won’t go into for the sake of brevity, I took a slight variation of that practice and used it for my artistic purposes. I was hopped up on a lot of orange juice, but in general, that ancient practice has gone the way of the dodo bird and so I tried a resurrection of sorts this morning. Spiritual, yes. Artistic achievement, probably not. The piece is obviously a disaster, but Tyler wanted to see it and so I obliged. It’s just an experimental piece of gibberish.”

The Hector rose from his seated position and took the battered painting in hand. He carried it over and placed it on top of the bar. As he examined, Morton’s heart raced. Heads turned, the two Americans watched as he evaluated the painting. Morton scratched the back of his neck like a rabid dog. The Hector returned to the table, leaving the sea cocktail painting laying on top of the bar. “Well, that explains why you look like you went swimming in your clothes, and yes, to be honest I agree, that is a most unsuccessful work. However, I tell you something, I will give you a chance. You are daring, let us test Mr. Kobich’s thesis, shall we?” The Hector tapped his finger on the table, “ It’s a little game were going to play, ha. Take our friend Mr. Smiley back to the village and provide for him. It was a pleasure meeting you, I have some business to attend to, but please stay and enjoy. You can take a car back to the village Mr. Kobich, it is yours as long as your friend is with us.” With that the Hector handed Tyler an envelope and walked back behind the bar and disappeared.

“You heard the man, we’re in!” Tyler shouted under his breath. Speaking aloud and starring at the ceiling, “So, I have to create an image… of a mans suppressed cognitive vision…that I know nothing about….such is the prompt?” Morton followed with his best boat skipper impression, “Sorry doc, birds took down the plane – all me hard work in the ocean now! Better come up with something cause I sure ain’t got nothing ‘in the states’,” he mocked Tyler, placed his elbows on the table and used his hands to cover his ears. He awakened from his depressed posture and pounced at Tyler, “And where’d you pull that bullshit from?”

“What bullshit?” Tyler elevated his tone to match Morton’s.

“All that happy-nonsense about ‘envisioning’ and the ‘cognitive crayon box’. What was that all about?! Fill me in, I’m perplexed!”

“That’s a legit theory, totally legit!” Tyler rebutted and scoffed at the notion that his theoretical insight was merely verbal direarra, “Hope I didn’t get too deep, I tried to condense it. On a side note, I’ve learned that using words like verisimilitude make me sound condescending. I had to abridge some parts,” Tyler continued, “We had to sell that guy and sell we did!” Morton didn’t look impressed, although he unconsciously crossed sharecropping off the list of things to look into. Tyler layered it on, “ Maybe I should have come up with something along the lines of your ancient sea baptism experience! Of course, that was probably the best you could have come up with considering both you and your painting look deranged! It’s a good thing you didn’t escape a rogue, burning-at-the-stake encounter, or you would’ve had to explain to Hector how you sizzled yourself while sacrificing your painting to the volcano Gods! Yeah, I’m full of it!”

The humorous thing was, the truth was just as strange. The Modelo was down to a measly fraction of the bottle, the hostess brought two more. The Americans moved from the table to the bar. They were still the only people inside the Ranchito. “What kind of car do we have?” zipped Morton. “There’s a bunch out back, we’ll take whichever, although, I’m partial to the Buick Roadmaster. It commands respect and can seat six comfortably; a grandpa’s car with the engine of a corvette.”

“What about the boy with the donkey, Jesus,” Morton pronounced Jesus like hey Zeus, Mocking Tyler’s long hair and apostolistic appearance, “Don’t you and the little peasant boy have to go turn water into wine and feed the five-thousand this afternoon?” Morton couldn’t help it. Tyler really did look like the big white guy trying to save the world. He respected him for it, but couldn’t possibly not pull his chain every now and again.

“The Roadmaster has the power of a thousand donkey’s. Plus, it’s big enough for you to sleep in. You didn’t think you were staying with me and my ladies did you?”

Morton washed down another swig of Modelo with a brave reply, "The Roadmaster it is."

The Hector

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