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."