The Yoni Dance Book Trilogy
The Ultimate "How to" Book
The Dream Catcher's Dream
Nuts, Bolts, and General Custer
On this late July day, the mid-afternoon sun is bright and hot. Fortunately for me, I’m driving comfortably in my boss’s white, air-conditioned BMW. In contrast to my usual attire which is rather informal, today I’m wearing a dark blue business suit. The Life Changer’s Vice President, James Baldwin, has arranged for me to meet the Persian Prince Satari Alphari. I’m on my way to an afternoon social engagement with him and then I’m to fly with him in his private plane to Hawaii.
As I drive past Saint Eucharist Mental Hospital, I see a large green bottle bounce off the roof of the car in front of me and disintegrate on the roadway. I notice that the pavement is strewn with broken glass. I look to my right and see two males, apparently hospital inmates, throwing bottles over the fence at the passing cars.
My attention is pulled back to the car in front of me as the driver brakes to miss another flying bottle. I brake also and pull to the left to go around him when my right rear tire runs over the base of a broken bottle I hear a loud pop.
“Shit! I hope that’s the glass and not my tire.”
I go no more than two-hundred yards before it’s obvious my tire is going flat. I pull off the road up near the fence. I’m now past the hospital itself but still adjacent to the hospital grounds. I get out of the car, walk around to the back, and stare at the flat tire. I notice that there’s a storm drain right beside where I stop, but I give it little attention. I’m too busy being furious and swearing — swearing half out loud to the world and half to myself.
“The idiots,” referring to the hospital staff, “have let those nutty bastards loose on us again.”
In my anger I fail to notice an old man standing just on the other side of an eight-foot-high chain-link fence. He's calmly watching me as I check my watch, examine the situation, and contemplate changing the tire.
I look up.
“What’s wrong with your tire?”
“It’s flat,” I bark back at him.
“I ain’t blind; I can see that.”
“I ran over a bottle back there, and it punctured my tire.”
In a soft, questioning, almost sad voice the old man says, “I’d think you’d know better than to run over bottles.”
Gesturing to the road behind me, I snap at the old man, “A couple of your buddies are throwing bottles at cars back there.”
I’m already annoyed by the flying glass and the flat tire, so I’m not at all pleased at having an audience. I shake my head in disgust, as much at myself for hitting the bottle as for having the flat tire. Ignoring the old man, I open the trunk and pull out the spare tire. Because this is not my car, I’m not familiar with the arrangement of the trunk’s contents, and so I start searching for the jack and lug wrench.
“It’s in the panel on your left.”
“What is?” My annoyance is showing.
“The jack and lug wrench.”
I look to my left and see a strap hanging on the side panel. I pull it. The panel opens revealing lug wrench, jack, and jack handle. I pull them out. Placing the wrench on the ground beside the spare tire, I position the jack under the passenger side of the rear axle, attach the handle, and proceed to crank in a clockwise direction. As the car is begins to rise, I hear. . .
“What now?” I say.
“You might want to loosen the nuts before you get that wheel off the ground.”
I am annoyed at my annoyance. “Of course,” I thought. “Any fool knows that.” The heat, my anger, and my lack of being present are obviously getting in the way of clear thinking. Nonetheless, I stop cranking and glare in the direction of the old man. I get up, go to the lug wrench, pick it up, and pry the hubcap off the wheel.
As I not so gently drop the hubcap, I again notice the storm drain near me. I casually peer into it, but, the bright sun, I can see nothing but blackness beneath the grate. I easily loosen four of the five lug nuts, but the last nut is excessively tight. Striving to loosen it, I strain and struggle, but it won’t budge. I’ve long ago taken off my jacket, but still, in the midday heat, I’m beginning to sweat quite profusely.
“Put the wrench on the nut and then stand on the other end.”
I do so and with a piercing screech, the nut loosens.
Without looking at the old man I respond, “Yeah.”
“Do you know why the tire is flat only on the bottom?”
“No, but I have the feeling I’m about to find out.”
“Well, you see, Sonny, that tire was filled with air under pressure of about thirty-five pounds per square inch. The compressed air kept the tire round and held the car up. When that there glass punched a hole in the tire, most of the air came out, and the weight of the car pushed the bottom of the tire flat against the ground. That’s why it’s flat only on the bottom.”
The old man laughs. By this time I am thoroughly annoyed with my audience. I return my attention to the jack and proceed to raise the car off the ground.
This time I don’t respond.
“Sonny,” he says again.
“What!” I bark back at him.
“Did you put the car in gear?”
I get up sweating, stand at the back of the car and look through the fence at my uninvited advisor. “Old man, that I did, all by my lonesome and without your help.” At that point, the old man sees that a large trailer truck is speeding down the highway and is about to pass by. Because my back is to the oncoming traffic, I don’t see it coming, and because of my anger the sound fails to register in my mind.
Ignoring the old man, I wipe my brow with the back of my hand, and then lean against the car, peering into the trunk to find something to wipe my hands on.
With a bit of urgency, the old man repeats himself. “Sonny!”
I still ignore him. Within seconds, the truck passes with a roar and a gust of hot air. Being unaware of its approach, I’m surprised by the extra loud noise and the sudden rush of air. I jump and in so doing, push against the back of the car. The combination of my push, the slight down grade for the storm drain, and the gush of air from the truck causes the car to lurch forward and fall off the jack. I throw up my hands in disgust.
From behind me, I again hear the old man call, “Sonny.”
“What the hell do you want now?” I say. “I was about to suggest that you put the hand brake on because, with one rear wheel off the ground, the other one might roll freely.
My annoyance is about to pop. I say to myself, “Of course, the old man is right. Where the hell is my mind today?”
Come over here for a moment, please.”
In my frustration, I comply without comment or resistance.
“Stand up straight here for a minute and close your eyes.”
I do as directed.
“Now take your left hand, that’s the hand where you wear your watch, take your left hand and place it flat on your forehead. Now take your right hand and place it flat on the back of your head, where you head sticks out furthest to the back.”
I follow the old man’s instructions.
“Now with your eyes still closed, breathe deeply and just stand there for about thirty seconds.”
Again I do as directed.
To my surprise, after only about fifteen seconds, I notice that my muscles are beginning to relax. I’m particularly aware of the shift in my abdominal muscles. Spontaneously I take another deep breath. As I relax, I'm amazed at how easily I lost my cool and reverted to my childhood conditioning. At that point, the old man speaks and breaks my train of thought.
“Okay, Sonny, take another deep breath, then put your hands down and open your eyes."
"Thanks." I say and start to return to my car. Before I've taken two steps, he speaks again. "Do you want the rest of this." he asks.
"I stop, turn back to him and say, "OK."
He continues, "This part is like holding hands with yourself, only instead of holding hands, each hand is holding the inside of the wrist on the opposite arm." He again demonstrates while I watch.
"My grandmother taught me this. She said she learned it rocking my mother when my mother was a baby."
I place my hands as he suggested.
"Now, let your arms and hands rest gently against your abdomen, close your eyes, breath deeply and gently, and just be there with yourself."
I stand silently focused on my breathing for about a minute. When I open my eyes, my frustration has evaporated and I'm just there with my flat tire.
Again, I say, "Thanks," and turn to leave. "Sonny" he says, "there a third part, if you're interested."
I stop, turn back to him, and then stand there awaiting for what's next.
"Straighten your arms out in front of you," he says. Put your hands together, and stick your thumbs up.” Feeling much better, I simply follow the old man’s instructions.
“Now we’re going to make an infinity sign with our thumbs. That’s a lazy-eight, like the number eight lying on its side. As we make that infinity sign, we’re going to be moving our hands upward when our thumbs are right in front of us and we’re going to be moving our hands downward when our thumbs are over to either side. You watch first and I’ll demonstrate.”
The old man demonstrated the movement.
Keep your head as still as you can and follow the movement of your thumbs with your eyes.”
gain, the old man proceeds to demonstrate what he has just described.
“Watch my eyes, Sonny. You see my head is relatively still. What are my eyes doing?”
Following your thumbs and making an infinity sign.”
“OK, now you do it.”
I make the infinity sign keeping my head still and moving my eyes. After about seven to ten times, the old man says,
I put my hands down and take another deep breath. I look at him, smile and say, “Thanks, I’m feeling much better.”
Although the sun is behind him, making it difficult for me to see him clearly, I take a moment and look at him more closely. I can see that he is wearing loose-fitting pants with a waistband, string tie, a casual, short-sleeved knit shirt, and a western style sun hat. His hair is almost shoulder length and appears brilliant white in the bright sun.
I return to my car and pull on the hand brake. I also check to be sure that the car is in gear. It isn’t. I put it in gear, return to the rear of the car, re-set the jack and raise the flat tire off the ground. The lug nuts are already loose, so I easily remove all five of them and carefully place them in the hubcap. I lean the flat tire against the side of the car.
At that point, I stop and take another deep breath. I turn to the old man and say, “See, I can do something right.”
He says nothing. He just smiles and watches me. I pick the spare tire up off its side and roll it to the wheel. As I attempt to place it on the wheel, it becomes obvious that I need to raise the jack about another inch and a half. I lean the spare against the tire that is flat and confidently move to the jack. Because I am wearing the pants from my best suit, I squat down to avoid kneeling on the blacktop.
As I turn the jack handle, the raising of the car causes the flat tire to slip. The movement of the flat tire causes the spare tire to fall over. As it falls it spins like a coin, going faster and faster with each revolution as it spins closer and closer to the ground. I just squat there watching as the tire clips the edge of the hubcap flipping my so carefully placed lug nuts up into the air. Four of the five nuts come down on the storm drain cover and disappear into the blackness below.
My mouth drops open. My right knee touches the pavement. I just stare at the storm drain. The old man says nothing. He just watches. The passing of another truck breaks my spell. I get up scratching my head. I glance to the old man. He’s still silently watching as I go over to the storm drain. I kneel down, pick up the one remaining nut and peer into the storm drain. I can see only blackness. I put my face close to the bars and shield my face with my hands. Still, I can see nothing but blackness. I reach down and tug at the bars. They don’t budge. In quiet desperation, I get up, walk to the rear of the car, pick up the lug wrench and return to the storm drain.
“What!” I yell at him.
“You don’t need to yell. I’m not deaf either.”
“What do you want?”
“I don’t want anything. Before you lose your lug wrench, too, I‘ll offer another suggestion if you’d like.”
“OK! What?” I bark back at him.
“Take one nut off each of the other three wheels and use them to hold your spare on. That will get you to the garage that’s just half mile down the road.” He points down the road in the direction I was originally headed.
I’m completely relieved and begin to laugh about this whole fiasco and particularly about my uninvited mentor. I walk over to him and say, “Old man, what’s your name?”
“Herbert,” he replies, “Herbert Bernstien.”
“Herbert, I’ve got one big question for you.”
“Sure, Sonny, what is it?”
“I’m out here messing up my day, and you’re in there, cool as a cucumber, with all the answers. What are you doing in there?
“Some of the people think I’m crazy.”
“Well, if you’re crazy, how come you have all the answers?”
“Sonny, I didn’t say I was crazy. I said, some people think I’m crazy. But there’s one thing I’m not. I’m not stupid.”
Again, I’m blown away. On one end of this loony bin I’m being bombarded with bottles, and, on the other end, I meet someone who, on this day at least, is far more together than I am.
I reach through a hole in the fence and shake his hand. “Herbert, I’ve got someone I’d like you to meet. Her name is Jazbell.”
“Is she pretty?”
“That she certainly is. I’m going to be gone for about a week. When I get back, I’d like to bring her to meet you, if that’s okay with you.”
“I would be honored to meet her. Please come to see me any time you like. When you get to the reception area just ask for General Custer. They’ll know who you mean.”
I turn to leave and take only one step when I hear “Sonny?”
“What’s your name?”
“Stoney, Stoney L. Tonto.”
Herbert, or General Custer, or what ever his name is, shifts into fluent Spanish and says, “El Tonto? Es su familia Latina? [Is your family Latino?] De donde es ese nombre? [Where did you get that name?]”
Then without waiting for a response, he shifts back into English, “Why do you wear the name Stoney ‘The Fool?’ You’re no fool, nor are you stupid. A little stubborn maybe, but certainly not stupid.”
“You’re right,” I say. “L. Tonto is the pen name I use for the stories I write. I use it because of its humorous connotations.” It gives me license to come from a different vantage point, and my readers like that approach.”
I return to my task, and as I’m doing so, I find myself in another internal dialog. One part of me is wondering why I’m explaining myself to an inmate of a funny farm, and another part is in awe of this man’s insights. I wonder, “What’s he doing in there?” But then, that’s another story for another day.
Right now my appointment is my top priority. Without further incident and without additional comment from General Custer, I complete the installation of the spare tire. As I slam the trunk lid down, I say, “See you next week, General. Right now I’m off to Oz to see another wizard.”
He waves back and says, “Adios, amigo.”
I get into my car and speed away. I stop at the garage, have them replace the missing lug nuts, and purchase a replacement for the destroyed tire. Though slightly late and unduly sweaty, I arrive for my appointment feeling good. My interview goes well, and so now, with Jazbell, General Custer, and Prince Satari Alphari, I have three stories to write.
End of Chapter Five Nuts, Bolts, and General Custer
The Yoni Dance Book Trilogy
The Dream Catcher's Dream
Nuts, Bolts, and General Custer
Copyright © 2016 -- Robert E. Coté -- The Life Center
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