Trinidad Guardian, March 22, 1933 AMAZING GHOST MOTOR CAR OF LA BREA DRIVER WHO `STEERS ALL DAY PRAYERS OFFERED TO LAY THE SPECTRE BY IRVING GREENIDGE THROWING in irreproachable gears, tooting seductive horns, negotiating corners with impeccable grace, and clinging resolutely to his extreme left, Mano Gonzales, alias Mahal, driver of Trinidads ghost motor car, has been steering his invisible vehicle about La Brea from Friday afternoon to the consummate approval of juvenile taste, and the abiding pity of balanced adults. Breathlessly making interminable rounds, Mahal has no respite but in a compassionate hold up from some friendly soul. He pulls up his car, c arefully transfers the switch key to his pocket, and faithfully reproduces all the evolutions of getting out of an automobile. Stopped in this way, the little brown Spanish caste man becomes himself again. Calmly, and in passable English, he related to m e yesterday, his story [...] at San Fernando of Venezuelan parents both of whom are now dead, of his school days. Poor, seedy, barefooted, unshaven Mahal, just on the other side of twentyseven, was a dashing taxi cab driver on the Mahal line of omnibuses only five years ago. HIS OBSESSION Somehow, upon his word, supported by popular attestation, the outbreak of his strange affliction coincides with his having stood Crowns evidence to a notorious South Trinidad murder trial, and Mahal is obsessed with the belief that he is under the influence of diabolical agency directed by the parties whom he gave away. Under interrogation his behaviour is puzzlingly rational. He accepts food, clothes and money offerings with the regret that he must live on charity though master of a trade, and perfectly willing to earn his bread. Food gifts he shares with his invisible mentor, whose part of the repast he casts upon the ground with the reproach: you always more hungry than me! Dismissed, the obsession promptly re transforms him. He repairs to the exact location on which he had stalled his car, climbs into it, taking care not to strike his head against the hood, bangs the door after him, whizzes a charmingly responsive self starter, zooms the requisite gears, and doggedly grasping the wheel, is off neck or nothing on the sisyphean drive. PRAYERS OFFERED
Far into night you can hear him playing his grotesque role, to succumb at last in balmy sleep upon the handiest doorstep! Up with the morning Angelus, he resol utely hies him to the identical spot on which he had parked his car for the night; realising that exposure in the elements has run his engine cold, he neglects the self starter for a vigorous crank, and is off on his rounds again! Much prayer has had no p ower to exorcise Mahals tormentor. Vain Masses have been offered to this end in different churches by his friends. Kind sympathisers have even taken him to Mount St. Benedict where it is claimed miraculous cures have been effected all to no avail! He c an give no undertaking as regards the duration of his sojourn in La Brea. Maybe another day, or maybe three months, he vaguely says. Meanwhile he exists upon the charity of sympathising folks, and sleeps under his cap, as he wittily told me here today, drawing wondering children after him like the Pied Piper of Hamelin.
Note Mahal was one of the great legendary street characters of Trinidad, and is still referred to today. The explanation given here for his behaviour is still the most common. Mount St. Benedict is a Benedictine monastery located in the hills north of St. Augustine in north western Trinidad.