I'm lying under a 1975 Dodge Coronet on an oil-stained driveway
trying to fix a good-sized gas leak.
I'm well into a six pack of Lone Star
when an evil Mexican food craving assaults me.
I can't concentrate on what I'm doing.
All I can think of are corn tortillas, extra hot sauce and piles of guacamole -
things that will cause pleasure and pain in my mouth in equal amounts.
Suddenly I notice my friend Crazy Dave's bare feet next to me.
"How about a taco break?" he asks, revealing his clairvoyant powers.
I slide out from under the car and squint into the sun.
"Lemme just Borax the grime from my hands."
I finish the last of my beer, scrub my hands under the hose
and we head downtown to Taqueria Jalisco.
"I've been wanting to ask you a favor," Dave says, as we pull into the parking lot.
"You know that giant tree stump in my backyard?
"If anything happens to me, I want you to have what's buried beneath it."
"What's buried there?"
"You'll have to dig it up and see."
"Cryptic. A la Shawshank Redemption."
"Oh, it's much better than that," Dave assures me.
"You really know how to instill an unbearable suspense in a guy."
"It's a bit cruel I realize. But you'll understand when you dig it up."
I order fish tacos with extra guacamole as Dave continues:
"You know how I am. I put myself in harm's way all too often -
testing the bounds of reality, mortality and whatnot.
For instance, just last week I had a brush with death
participating in a semi illegal activity involving an unholy amount of Ayahuasca,
nude bungie jumping and a vision of the risen Christ out on Pyramid Rock."
"Hell of a day," I observe.
"Anyway, I thought I'd better let someone in on the location of all I hold dear,
before something a bit more permanent happens to me."
"Why me?" I ask.
"Because you're the only one who won't use it for monetary gain."
"Thanks," I say, as the waitress returns with bad news.
The restaurant is closing early due to 'una familia emergencia'.
There will be no taste of heaven today.
The afternoon sun glows orange and pink through the windows.
I think of how an excess of suspense can keep life
playing out like bad television, but I keep my questions to myself.
I cover the bill, leave an obscene tip and we head back out to the car.
About a year later I am digging under the stump in Dave's backyard.
I toss the shovel on the lawn and lift a wooden chest out of the earth.
I gently open the lid and stare in utter disbelief at its contents.
This is not what I was expecting to find.