Thursday, May 6, 2010

Moon Water

They began bottling the stuff in three flavors; Berry Dark Side, Green Tea of Tranquility and Lemon Crater.
A snappy advertising blitz with a hip jingle soon flooded the airwaves. Everyone, at least once, was willing to shell out the $65 for a bottle.
Everyone but me.
Everywhere I looked there were signs for Moon Water, celebrity endorsements, people gulping it down like it was the ambrosia of the gods, and trash cans overflowing with empty bottles.
I even had that stupid jingle stuck in my head:
If your parched then march down to the store
Just one sip and you’ll be wantin’ more.
It’s sure to put a smile on your face
Because it comes from outer space!

Good Lord, I needed a break from it all.
My girlfriend and I had planned a camping trip to Arizona and a few days before we were about to leave she called me up and told me she had to cancel.

“I’m sorry Albert, I spent the money I was saving on a case of Moon Water.”
I was outraged, slammed the phone down and decided to go camping alone figuring the solitude from the maddening world would do me good.
I was speeding down a lonesome highway when that blasted jingle came on the radio. As I hastily switch stations, the radio knob came off in my hand. When I looked up, I had veered off the road. The car bounced over the desert terrain. When I cut the wheel and slammed on the brakes I heard a loud pop. I stopped the car, got out and saw I had run-over a cactus. My tired was flat.
Beforehand, to make room for the tent, sleeping bag, lawn-chair, Tiki torches, dufflebag of clothes and cooler, I removed the spare tire. I was stuck in the middle of nowhere with only a jar of peanut butter, loaf of bread and box of Ritz crackers for sustenance.
The remoteness of the area rendered my cellular telephone useless. No bars.
My destination, Happy Acres Campgrounds lay 9-miles away according to the greasy Texaco map I followed. Trekking through this barren landscape might as well have been the lunar surface.
Zephyrs kicked sand in my face as though I were a 98-pound weakling being bullied at the beach, the unremitting sun made me feel like a clay mug in a fiery kiln.
Along the way, I abandoned the lawn chairs, sleeping bag and tent but kept a single Tiki torch in order to puncture a Barrel cactus drawing water.
The problem was there were no barrel cacti to be found. Delirious with dehydration, I stabbed every plant in my path.
Something glimmered in the distance. At first I thought it was a mirage yet it wasn’t a lush, watery oasis speckled with date palms. No, it looked more like a heap of crumpled metal shimmering in the blazing sun like a large, freshly-minted coin.
As I approached I could see it was a man wearing a Mylar suit and space helmet. He wasn’t moving. His body was twisted in an unnatural position. I suspected he must have fallen to his death from the cliff above. Perhaps from out of the sky? I didn't get too close.
Down the rocky face of the cliff came a trickling stream of water.
Invigorated with hope that H2O was close by, I began to climb the precipice using the Tiki torch as a cane of sorts to stabilize my footing.
The sandy droplets of water that I brought to my mouth - far to minuscule to even sustain the life of a lone Paramecium - enticed me, taunted me and propelled me to climb further.
I was dying of thirst and as I reached the plateau, I came upon a dirt road. One hundred yards away was an overturned tractor trailer bearing the logo of a double M for the bottled water distributor, Moon Madness.
Wrought with both distress over this ubiquitous conglomerate’s audacity to exploit life’s elixir and the sheer joy of my discovery, I stood motionless for a moment before realizing there was someone - also donning a space helmet and Mylar threads - crawling amongst the wreckage.

"Get help," moaned the delivery driver through the cracked space helmet. “My cell phone is in the cab.”

The cab was on fire. Acrid smoke billowed.
Assuming the driver loss control of the truck while making a sharp turn, my curiosity centered around the reason why he was wearing such a ridiculous outfit.
He didn’t answer when asked him about the space suit.
The pain ricocheting through his body was apparently too intense. His eyes closed but his breathing was still heavy enough to indicate he had not yet died.
Bottles were strewn everywhere; some busted, some intact.
I picked one up and uncapped it.
Berry Dark Side.
As I lifted the bottle to my lips the driver shouted an emphatic No!
Had Moon Madness brainwashed their delivery men?

“I’ll pay the $65,” I declared then guzzled the 12 ounces in a single shot.

It was incredibly flavorsome. The best damn water I ever tasted and I’m not just saying that because I was dying of thirst from having walked seven miles through the 115-degree environment.
I picked up another bottle.
Lemon Crater.
It was scrumptious. It was like gulping down pure oxygen, a crystal clear taste that tingled every taste bud and made love to my esophagus as it gushed into my gullet.

“No! Don’t,” cried the driver.

“Listen bub, I need water or else I’ll be in worse shape than you. I don’t care about the money and frankly, I’m not a big fan of Moon Madness to begin with. The mere fact they make you dress up in spacesuits is another good reason to think they’re all a bunch of phonies.”

“No... not space suits. You don’t understand,” he warned. “This batch is contaminated... radioactive elements. Poison water...We were on our way... to bury it.”

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