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Keeping Cool With Ernesto

Ernesto Chavez was overjoyed. His name would go up in lights on highway warning signs; it would headline the evening news and be the subject of lots of David Letterman jokes.

No longer would the world pay its respect to that angry lady, Katrina.

Right now, today, his very own hurricane was headed for his native home in Cuba. Ernesto would be looked upon as a powerful force, winds faster than an American government excuse, able to fell tall buildings in a single exhale, and fighting for truth, justice and a FEMA debit card. Ernesto knew his name would soon replace Katrina’s in the American lexicon.

All of his life, Ernesto had issues. He was extremely shy, keeping to himself. Only his pit bull and his German shepherd were given access to his compound where he had stocked up on disaster relief supplies. He had built a bunker underneath the Texas Medical Center in Houston, where he knew one day the waves of water would pour. Ernesto was just an entrepreneur who believed in the American Dream, like others in Texas. He had believed in the American dream since he had arrived in America on a row boat from Cuba with nothing but a couple of cigars and two over-the-hill singers from the Havana Playboy Club. At least the singers were able to navigate a boat – but Ernesto swore that he would jump the next time he heard “Michael Row Your Boat Ashore.”

Ernesto had survived several hurricanes himself in Cuba – not to mention the Cuban missile crisis, and peak Soviet oil. Crisis was his calling.

Then again, so was privacy.

For that, he had his X10 privacy kit – a number of Vanguard cameras, motion detectors and a means to control the video scene from his job as Assistant Manager at a Houston Taco Bell. He could limit access not only to his bunker, but the basement at the Memorial Drive home he shared with his Cuban singer friends.

Ernesto was disappointed last summer when Rita failed to hit Houston – and was even more disappointed when he found himself stuck in traffic as he and everyone else was evacuated from the city at the same hour.

This time, he would be ready. He would stand on the side of the clogged freeway selling his secret homage to X10 --a battery-controlled hurricane module that would remotely flush toilets and air condition everyone’s rear-end – without electricity. Instead of a handle, the toilet would have a crank that generated cool air. In a city where temperatures and humidity frequently approached three digits, keeping cool was the difference between life and death.

The American dream would soon be his, Ernesto believed. Someday, after the storm had blown over, Ernesto would be able to pick up a local newspaper and claim his 15 minutes of fame.

“They Called the Cool Wind, Ernesto!” the headline would read.


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