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Tales from Texaco

Tales from Texaco, 2006
Duration: 25:00
live performance

Performed at Le Petit Versailles: August 19, 2006

This performance was inspired by events that took place surrounding a local gas station (Ken’s Texaco) which was located in my tiny hometown of Boalsburg, Pennsylvania.  The station was opened in 1946 by a man named Ken Tennis, and would remain there for many years to come.  In many ways, the Texaco represented the heart of my world as a child.  It is through this heart that I go back to years past, recounting the joys of living, and what it was like to begin to understand death. 

Excerpt: Ken’s Texaco was not only a gas station, but also a towing company.  One of the most fascinating thrills of my life was looking at the wrecked cars that were parked in the lot.  The massive sense of destruction that I saw before me was better than anything that you could see on TV...I wondered about the force that crushed the thick metal frame of the car like a measly can of soda.  The windshields were crushed in a million cracked pieces of glass that layed on the seat cushions inside of the car...sometimes you could even see blood stained on the seats.  I was usually enamored and fascinated with the cars, but when I would see the blood, a sense of reality set in and I was filled with a tingling shock that is difficult to explain.  I looked across the street at the graveyard and rememebered my first encounter with death.

It was the middle of the night.  I was sleeping when I heard a commotion downstairs and awoke.  My brother Michael was standing in the kitchen and looked more frightened than I had ever seen him.  His eyes were enormous and he seemed utterly terrified.  There had been an accident.  Michael’s good friend was dead. His name was Simon Stone and he was riding in the back of a pick-up truck.  His older brother was driving when he turned a corner too sharp and flipped over.  Simon was thrown from the truck and was crushed by its weight.  He was twelve years old.  I remember my Mom explaining this to me...I didn’t want to listen, and as she spoke, I backed up against the wall, hoping to find an escape by crawling inside of it.  I was only six, and felt angry and confused...I cried hard but couldn’t quite grasp my own feelings.  Simon is buried in that graveyard across from Ken’s.  Sometimes I would go and visit his grave and say hello, wondering if he knew I was there.