Saturday, September 6, 2008


The woman looked up, and finally said, "Did your bar have bullet holes in the ceiling?"

"No, but I..." He looked up to the same spot the woman had pointed to, then continued, but slowly, "...was referring to the overall style." He stared at the bullet holes like he was trying to say something about them. For a moment, he had second thoughts about stepping into that tavern. "Looks like there’s been some pretty fierce fighting in here. Who would waste large-caliber bullets like that?"
The three of them approached the bar at the center of the tavern, and sat on three stools, the Viking on the far right, the other man on the far left, and the woman between them.

Yolanda greeted them with what barely looked like a smile. "¿Puedo os ofrecer cualquier cosa?"

The two men did not understand what she said. The woman, however, intervened. "Nate, Sören, please... I speak fluent Spanish. Let me handle this." She turned to Yolanda. "We’ll just look at the menu before we make our decision. Thank you," she said, in an almost perfect Spanish. It could have been her mother tongue, but she had a slight accent that betrayed the fact she did not come from anywhere close.
A patron, at the other end of the tavern, sitting at the table next to Manuel’s, yelled something to Yolanda.

The khaki-clad woman said, "Football. Oh, goody." She was uninterested.

"Whatever, the bartender obliged. Look," said the smaller man, as the bartender changed the channel on the big-screen TV. "But this doesn’t look like football..."

"Yeah. Ads, probably..."

The big-screen TV showed a green sportscar stopped at a red light. The driver was patiently waiting for the light to turn green when another sportscar, a red one of a different model, stopped next to it, on the driver’s side. The driver of the red car looked at the driver of the green car, and smiled. He pointed his two index fingers at the driver of the green car, and then at the road ahead of them, as to indicate that he challenged the green car for a race. The driver of the green car nodded. He accepted the challenge.

The light turned green. The red car burned rubber and dashed off like a rocket. But the green car stayed put. Instead, it fired a rocket, which came out of an opening under the driver-side headlamp, aimed directly at the red car now well ahead of it. The rocket hit the back of the car which was lifted by the ensuing explosion. The car flipped over, back to front, and landed on its roof. The green car then took off, slowly, and stopped before the wreckage of the red car. The driver of the green car smiled at the driver of the red car, more flabbergasted than hurt, waved at him, and then left the scene.

The screen turned blank. On top was a blue car of the same model as the green car. At the bottom were the following inscriptions:

veKtor GU-9
Starting at $75,000
Ammunition $250 per round

After a few seconds, another screen replaced it, but this time a logo made by a stylized K inside an oval took the place of the car:

You do own the road

The smaller man, still looking at the TV screen, said nothing. He looked at the Viking, then at the woman, and finally said, sarcastically, "Brakes are optional."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Some tavern in Latin America

The inside of the tavern looked dirty and neglected. All around it were ads for beer brands that looked like they haven’t been changed in ages. All of them were in Spanish. The stools at the center were vacant, but there were about a dozen men, mostly of Latino-American descent, sitting at the tables around them. At the end of the room, there was a big-screen, flat-panel television. The sound from the TV was barely audible. It showed a news report, but the patrons were barely paying attention to it.

Inside the bar, a barmaid was wiping glasses and cups, making sure one will not see any spots on them, but she did not seem to mind the unkempt appearance of the rest of the building. Nor did she seem to care about the customers. All she cared about was making sure the glasses are spotless.

Until a small, thin man at the corner of the tavern yelled at her, in Spanish, "Yolanda! Can I have a beer, please? And put it on my tab."

Yolanda, the bartender, replied to him, "You’ll get a tab when you fix those bullet holes on the ceiling. Until then, it’s no tab for dear Manuel."

"What bullet holes?"

"Those bullet holes." Yolanda pointed to a series of holes on the ceiling above the main entrance that could have been made by a large-caliber weapon.

"Oh, yeah, those. Heh, heh. Hey, it’s your bar. You fix them. Not my problem."

"Except that you are the one who made them. Remember? Or were you too drunk to know what you did?"

Manuel looked stunned and had no further argument. It sounds like he won’t get his beer today.
He looked through the window, and said, "Hey, has anyone ever seen these three gringos around here?"

Just as Manuel said this, three people entered the bar. They were two men and a woman, none of whom looked like they belong to the same ethnic group as the people already inside. The woman was barely five feet tall, relatively thin, with short black hair that contrasted sharply with her pale skin complexion and blue eyes. She was wearing khaki-coloured cargo pants and a camouflage-patterned short-sleeved T-shirt. The larger of the two men was quite tall at six feet five inches. His arms were quite large, like those of a football player. He had long blond hair and a moustache that made him look like a medieval-era Viking plunderer. His clothes, however, made him look rather classy. He was wearing black trousers and a light blue dress shirt. The smaller one was about five feet eight inches tall. He was also much thinner than the big Viking. He had short, well-groomed chestnut hair and was wearing blue jeans with a light brown shirt. All three looked like they could be in their late twenties or early thirties.

Finally, the smaller man said to the other two, "This looks like the kind of place I used to patronize back in the Old Era. Glad to see we are not totally disoriented around here." He was speaking English with an accent that sounded like he came from New York State. Or Ontario.

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