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.