Ernesto Torres pulled his off-white Rolls-Royce Phantom into the Shell gas station on the corner of US-1 and SW 27th Ave. The 47-year-old Caracas native sported an immaculately tailored Italian sportscoat, calfskin loafers (no socks), crème-colored slacks that rode up his calves, a Balenciaga belt, and light blue dress shirt with the top three buttons unfastened.
His family had been involved in “import-export” and “state contract” ventures for decades, enriching them to the point of joining the 13 clans that literally owned their country. When pressed about why they precipitously fled Venezuela in 2008, he usually deflected by claiming “business disagreements” with the government.
Torres would have never driven into a gas station in Caracas. Nor in Miami. Indeed, the man barely ever drove, much less ran his own errands. But his chauffeur claimed stomach cancer or some other such nonsense which precluded him from his usual duties. Therefore, until the agency sent him a new driver, Torres would pump his own gas like a peasant.
His gelled coiffure usually framed a self-satisfied and absolutely confident expression. However, as Torres gingerly stepped out of the car, he seemed quite unsure whether there was a secret password, the ground would give way, or someone might attack him from behind with a mallet.
The first thing he did was open his trunk. Of course, he had no idea where the trunk lever was located, but luckily, his Phantom came equipped with an automated voice assistant that did just about everything other than falsify tax documents. He had an accountant for that.
Torres strode cautiously to the rear of the car, keeping a wary eye on other customers should any decide to lunge. He spent the next three minutes examining every inch of the cavernous trunk, but to no avail. He did not think of checking the driver’s manual or internet because 1. he was unaware cars came with manuals and 2. the internet should only be used for masturbation. He was, after all, a gentleman.
He opened the hood. By now, his shirt sported dark sweat stains, irking him further. Only farmers sweat.
He burned his hand on the radiator and streaked his jacket with engine grease. Torres eventually found a tank, removed the cap, and realized he didn’t know the first thing about how to use a pump.
After haranguing the station attendant for a full ten minutes, she finally agreed to operate the machine for him. She half-heartedly dissented when instructed to pour gas into the open tank, but after Torres further berated her for not knowing the first thing about luxury cars, she ceased her protestations, filled the tank, and left him to his own devices.
Torres mumbled something about the sorry state of customer service, climbed into the Phantom, slammed the door, and drove off. He got half a mile before the engine block burst into flames.
After pulling him out of the car with second-degree burns, firefighters surmised that the cause of the fire was a coolant tank filled with gasoline.
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