A single gun shot rang out through the room. The enchilada at the juke box immediately cut the tunes. The bartender, Cup of Chilly, reached for his grape shooter. All the other occupants of looked to the doorway in silence. The doors were still swinging from where the gun slinger had thrust himself through and no one was surprised to see who it was.
He was tall and wrapped in a greasy tortilla, tucked in upon itself so as not to leak the vitals. The man smelled of that manly must, enticing and pungent at the same time. It was Bean Burrito, the biggest ass hole of the Wild West. He was the best shit talker on both sides of the border. He never turned down a duel and he could get a head of lettuce to pull a gun on a patch of tomatoes with only a few words. Once, Bean Burrito had bullied Cheese Wrap, a stuttering fellow with hardly any self esteem, to hang himself with a strand borrowed from Cheese Stick from the clock tower merely by saying, “You think you are full of protein! You’re just rotten milk!” Bean Burrito was the bully of the small border town Dinner but he was also dangerous enough so as no one dared oppose him.
But to understand why Bean Burrito forced his way into the Deep Fried, swinging his Pee Shooter Magnum like it was the finger of an angry school teacher, we’d have to scoot back a little ways…
We’ll start with Steak. Steak was a stud. He was tough and toned to a medium-rare that made the girls bubble in their sauces. He woke up four days before Bean Burrito bust into the bar barrel out, with a beautiful young pepper and almost fell out of bed.
How the hell did I get here?!
Memory came back to him with the blunt force of a hangover’s headache. He’d arrived at Dinner quite late and purchased a room with the kernels in his pocket at the Deep Fried Bar. That’s where he had met Mademoiselle Habanera. She was hot. And she was the mayor’s daughter. It didn’t take long for her to persuade him to sip a little bit of bio-diesel. Steak normally fancied himself a heavy drinker, but he quickly learned to fancy Habanera as heavier. Together, they staggered up to his room and, voila, Habanera and Steak hit the hay.
It was a spicy encounter to say the least.
Great way to portray myself, first night in town and I banged the mayor’s daughter. I need to get the hell out of Dodge.
Stooping over, Steak pulled up his jeans and turned from the beautiful curved fruit beneath the sheets to head for the door. But someone was in the doorway. It was none other than Cheese Stick himself. (Cheese Stick worked for Cup of Chilly and did most of the grunt work at the Deep Fried Bar.)
“You in trooouuuble, mista,” Cheese Stick said.
Steak glanced over his shoulder at the Mademoiselle, still sound asleep, and then back at Cheese Stick.
“Shhhh,” Steak whispered, “I’m just gone slip on out of town and go on my way-”
“Slip on out of town,” Cheese Stick laughed, “You got the brain of Ground Beef if you think you gone slip on out of town! Half the town downstairs!”
“It’s too early to drink!”
“Oh, they ain’t drinkin suh. They waiting. Waiting for you to come downstairs and waiting for Bean Burrito to make his way over.”
“The town punk,” Cheese Stick explained, “He’s got the mind to marry the Mademoiselle and you just took her V-card!”
“Hold up, that woman wasn’t no virgin,” Steak snapped.
“Tell that to Bean Burrito and the mayor,” Cheese Stick said.
Steak stomped his foot and glanced back at the woman in the bed. He cursed beneath his breathe. He’d been on his way up north, to the states, having recently traveled through South America on a treasure hunt. His jerky and carriage were awaiting him in the stables outside the bar and in the back of the carriage was a chest and in the chest was something that he could absolutely not leave town without.
“You’re a S.O.L.,” Cheese Stick said.
“Shit out of luck?”
“Lawd no! You come to our town, drillin our fresh fruits and such and now you cursin! Lawd Jesus! That type language jus ain’t called for!” Cheese Stick cried, “You’re a Steak Out of Luck!”
Cheese Stick glared at Steak suspiciously.
“Please!” Steak cried.
“Aight den, here’s what we gone do,” Cheese Stick shuffled past Steak and into the room. Making sure not to lay an eye on the bare back of the beautiful Habanera, he strode over to the window and opened it, “You gone climb out.”
Cheese Stick reached up, grabbed his forehead, and pulled a strip of flesh off of his cylinder-shaped body. Fighting the urge to vomit, Steak picked up the strip. Cheese Stick held the other end. With a second or two more of convincing, Steak slipped out the window and began to scale his way down the wall. No sooner had he started to descend than did Cheese Stick let go.
Steak hit the ground. Dust flew up around him. Food piled out from the bar to observe the deceased lump of meat on the ground. He was cremated two weeks later. Habanera mourned him for days.
Just kidding. Steak hit the ground and got up, surviving without a scratch thanks to the five-seconds rule. He was about to shoot Cheese Stick a dirty glare but the dairy product had left the window seal. As soon as he returned his gaze to the street, a pea flew by his head, shattering one of the Deep Fried Bar’s windows. That was all the motivation Steak needed to get moving. He bolted off the street and into the stable beside the inn. His jerky waited patiently, the carriage tied to the wall behind it, waiting to be hooked up.
I can’t leave the carriage.
Steak heard another gun shot outside.
I don’t have time!
He untied his jerky and hopped aboard his mount of dried meat.
“Alright, Jack, let’s go!”
Jack bounded forward, kicking the doors of the stable out of the way, and leaping into the streets. He could see Bean Burrito and a posse of lesser Hispanic wraps, pea-guns out and firing.
“Hiyah,” Steak dug his spurs into Jack’s sides, “hiyah!”
And Steak was off, flying down Main Street and out of Dinner in what seemed like the blink of an eye. Bean Burrito watched from the streets as the meat disappeared into the mountains.
“I’ll get him,” Bean Burrito said, “Ain’t that right.”
“You always right, boss,” said a wrap.
“Aye, he left something behind!” another wrap called from inside the stable.
Bean Burrito strode into the shade of the stable, spurs clacking with each step. The wrap stood at the carriage, he’d dragged the chest out onto the dusty floor of the stable.
“It’s locked boss.”
“Stand back,” Bean Burrito snapped.
The wraps were quick to comply.
The lock flew off the chest.
“Open it,” Bean Burrito demanded.
The wraps had to work together to pry the lid off the chest and as soon as they did, the tortilla wrapped thugs gasped. The chest was practically glowing, filled to the brim with kernels. Millions of kernels.
“We’re rich, boss!”
“No,” Bean Burrito snarled, “I’m rich.”
The sun had set on Steak as he led his jerky further up into the mountain range. Cold night time breezes rolled in from the desert valleys, sweeping up into the hills, surrounding him with an eerie scream. The hills had gotten so rocky that he was forced to walk Jack.
All he could think of was Mademoiselle Habanera. Had they shared something special? Could it have been more than a one night stand? Was she more than the hottest pepper he’d ever witnessed?
So lost in his thoughts, he didn’t notice the rattling at his feet. If he had looked down, he would’ve seen the biggest diamond back twizzler on record, coiled up, tail rattling, jaw hanging open to reveal two cherry flavored fangs. He didn’t notice until the twizzler had clamped its jaws around his ankle.
The twizzler exploded,
“Don’t be usin the good Lord’s name in vain like that, hun!”
Steak hit the rocky earth, hands wrapped around where he’d been bitten. Jack was rearing back, whinnying, and snorting as it looked from the dead twizzler to Steak and then to the new comer. Ignoring the pain, Steak turned to observe his savior.
It was a potato, dark skinned and wrinkled with age, holding a 12-Gauge grape shooter in her arms and staring at Steak with a frown.
“Who are you?” she demanded, her voice was old, scratchy and sharp.
“Steak,” Steak replied.
“And who is Steak?”
“The beefy protagonist who has just been bitten by one of the most venomous beasts of west.”
She stared suspiciously at Steak for a moment longer and then lowered her gun.
“Aight, boy, I’ll take you back to the house and fix you up,” she turned and began to walk down a narrow trail that Steak had totally missed. She paused, “but if you try anythin, you gone end up like the twizzler.”
Steak swallowed his spit and nodded. Her name was Sweet Potato and her house appeared to be as ancient as she was. Every floor board creaked and threatened to give way under Steak as he limped along. Pictures covered her the walls, portraits of Sweet Potato’s parents and her husband and children…or child rather.
“My boy died after bein bit by one of em twizzlers,” Sweet Potato told Steak. Apparently, after the birth of her son, her husband had passed away in the great Texan Potato Famine. That’s what took her grandparents as well, after the famine, it was just her and her son in the house. She had tried to get the son to leave but he wouldn’t abandon her and she couldn’t bring herself to abandon her home. Steak was allowed to sleep in her son’s bedroom and, after being forced to down some soup from his host, Steak fell right asleep.
He woke up covered in sweat. The fever had come to him in the night and came with such force that Steak felt sure he was doomed to die. Sweet Potato came in and out of the room, bringing him soup and the occasional mug of bio-diesel to treat the pain. All he could think about was his money, but not only that, his woman.
In all his days, his travels from pole to pole, Steak had never met a woman of such beauty. And in his day and age, personality wasn’t a factor, thus Steak was sure he had fallen in love. He was thinking of Habanera when a familiar nagging voice addressed him from the doorway.
Steak sat up in bed. He was pale, weak, and his head throbbed, but the voice shocked him. There in the doorway stood Cheese Stick with a goofy grin and a gun. Not just any gun, but a Pee Shooter Magnum .500 caliber, the strongest handgun in the world.
“How’d you find me!” Steak exclaimed, “And where did you get that gun?”
“Well, Sweet Potato came to town yesterday and told everyone you was up here. You been gone for three days,” Cheese Stick shrugged, “And this is hers.”
“Wait…you said she was telling everybody?”
“Yessir, said you was up here dying from a twizzler bite. I was among the first to hear so I booked it up here, but I guarantee Bean Burrito is going to be sending some Wraps up here to finish you off. He’s got your money too by the way.”
“If he has the money, why does he still want to kill me?”
“He bought the Mademoiselle from the mayor with your money. They’re supposed to be getting married fore the end of the month. And you’re the only man that could stop it because Habanera is absolutely obsessed with you.”
“Obsessed with me,” Steak smiled.
“Ain’t nothin to smile at bud. They gone kill ya.”
“If only I weren’t dying, I could make it down there and do something about it.”
“You ain’t dying,” Sweet Potato said barging into the room, “I ain’t got no air conditioning up here. That’s why you got the sweats.”
“What? But the twizzler bite!”
“Twizzler bites don’t kill you,” Sweet Potato replied.
“But they’re the most venomous monsters in the Wild West!”
“They’re a little bit sour but it’s just candy, nothing more than a lil bee sting,” Sweet Potato laughed, “Never heard of someone dying from a twizzler bite.”
“But you told the townsfolk I was?!”
“Then why didn’t you tell me?!”
“I get lonely up here.”
“Hold on! You said your son died from a twizzler bite!”
“Yes sir, my son died after he got bit. He got bit. Got scared. And fell off a cliff.”
“You ain’t the brightest,” Cheese Stick remarked.
Steak hopped out of bed and snatched the Pee Shooter from Cheese Stick.
“Alright Cheese Stick, I’m going to get my gold and my girl.”
“And I’m coming with,” Cheese Stick cried, “I call shotgun!”
That brings us to where we started. A pee lodged in the wall of the Deep Fried Bar, Bean Burrito in the doorway, the scariest man in all of Dinner. It didn’t take him long to spot Steak, sitting at the bar, not even bothering to look at the door. Cheese Stick stood beside him, compensating for his companions lack of fear, his eyes wide and face a pale white. Cup of Chilly, the bar tender, reached for the grape shooter beneath the counter but Steak raised his hand to calm the man.
“Good afternoon, Steak.”
“Same to you, Beans.”
“It’s Mr. Burrito to you,” the gassy food snapped, striding into the bar, gun held by his side, watching the lump of meat for any sudden movements, “You shoulda known better than to lay with my lady,” Mr. Burrito raised his magnum, “Goodbye, Stea-”
“Duel!” Steak cried.
If the bar had been silent before, it was even more so now.
“Duel?” Bean Burrito asked.
“Legend has it, you’ve never turned down a duel. So what’s it gonna be, you a coward?”
“Ha, duel it is.”
The bar filed out without a word. The entire population of Dinner was witness, observing from the safety of doorways and windows. From the oldest vegetable to the youngest pastry, all were watching vigilantly. Mademoiselle Habanera stood in the window of the courthouse, watching in a white dress, a tear sliding slowly down her cheek. Steak and Bean Burrito stood, back to back, at the center of Main Street.
“Steak, you sure about this?” Cheese Stick asked.
“Positive,” Steak said.
“Be careful, he never plays fair,” Cheese Stick warned.
“Don’t worry bout it,” Steak said.
“The rules of the duel,” Cup of Chilly cried, his voice booming throughout Dinner, interrupting Cheese Stick and Steak’s conversation, “Each contestant must take ten steps and on the tenth turn and fire until one man is down,” Cheese Stick hobbled over to the stores to watch, “Each step will be taken on my count. Do the both of you understand?”
The two nodded.
They took a step.
Steak’s hands were sweaty. The Pee Shooter in his hand was heavy but – he took the next step – nothing was heavier than his heart. This was hit or miss. Live or Die. Love or lose.
His finger rested on the trigger. The gun was cocked. He was ready. He took deep breathes. The entire town was silent, everyone on their tip-toes.
A ball of cotton candy blew across the street.
Sweet Potato, hiding in a clothes shop, began to cry.
Steak’s jerky whinnied.
Cheese Stick clamped his eyes shut.
Mademoiselle Habanera raised a hand to her brow.
The two spun around.
Steak looked down at himself. He didn’t feel anything. Did Bean Burrito miss? Heart thumping like a sewing machine, Steak looked up and at Bean Burrito. The burrito dropped his gun and clamped his hands over his heart. Beans began to pour out around his fingers.
“You bast…you bass.”
The burrito hit the dust.
The town went wild. Everyone cheered. Mademoiselle Habanera flew from the courthouse and jumped into Steak’s arms, kissing him from head to toe. Later that day, Steak met the mayor and told him that he was willing to give his golden treasure in order to get to marry the Mademoiselle. The mayor smiled and said that it wouldn’t be necessary.
Steak was elected as Sheriff and never again was there a bad burrito in Dinner.
Just kidding. On the way out of the Deep Fried Bar, Bean Burrito shot Steak three times in the back, killing him before they even made it out on Main Street. He then married Mademoiselle Habanera a month later. Together, they had many spicy burrito children and the couple lived until a ripe old age before they rotted.
Mademoiselle Habanera could never truly forgive Bean Burrito for killing her one true love and, on some nights, she dreamed of being tossed into a marinate with the beefy explorer she had met that one fateful evening at the Deep Fried Bar.