Flash Fiction: Everyone Comes To Tiny’s


It’s been awhile since I’ve taken Chuck Wendig up on one of his challenges, so let’s get back into it.  This week, there are six settings to choose from.  Unlike last time he offered multiple settings, I’m NOT going to do all six.  Just picking one: Tiny’s Taco Hut.

Everyone Comes to Tiny’s

Two massive roads circle the Desert World.  One runs north and south, over the poles, cutting the world into eastern and western hemispheres.  The other runs east to west, a great belt around the world’s equator, cutting it into northern and southern hemispheres.  Where these two roads meet lays the Great City, hub of learning and culture on the Desert World.  Where they meet again, at the farthest place from the Great City, is Tiny’s Taco Hut.

Stranger dropped some coins on the bar.  City money.  “Gimme two and a coffee.”

“What meat?”

“Rather not know.”

The place stank of stale beer.  Rather, what the settlers called beer, pissed out by the local fauna.  Filtered if you were lucky.  Stranger sat at one of the lacquered tables and pushed aside the remains of the previous customer’s lunch.  He looked around and saw the other customers were the sort not to look around at.  Sand rats, exiles, dregs, folks burned red by too much time in the lethal sun on the ass end of the planet, they looked back at Stranger.  Plate landed in front of him, two hard shells with something brown in them, and coffee in a black mug meant to disguise its weakness.  Stranger was about to bite into his first taco when he saw the waiter had helped himself to the seat across from him.

“Everyone comes to Tiny’s eventually.”

Stranger bit into the taco.  Hot juice poured down his face.  The meat was gamey and seasoned beyond any natural flavor.  Waiter slid a bottle across the table.

“Better with this,” he said.

Stranger gave the red sauce a hard look, and shook some on.  Next bite sent his tongue aflame.  Damn good stuff.

“Not many folk pay with City money here.”

Stranger looked around the place again.  Twenty tables, maybe that many patrons.  The walls were only ornamented with cracks and peels in the plaster.  “No?” he asked.

“Nope.  So I got to thinking, just who would come walking in here with City money in his pocket.  Know what I figured?”

“What?”  Stranger took a sip of the coffee.  It tasted like the rumor of a Colombian bean.

“I figure he’s got to be a real asshole.  That’s what I figure.”

Stranger let the comment slide, putting down his mug and picking up the rest of the first taco.  He bit into it, then made a point at not looking at the waiter, looking instead out the thick window at the orange desert beyond.

“So that got me thinking even more,” Waiter said.  “I was wondering who I knew who was a real asshole.  Certainly no one out here.  These are all good people, just trying to make a living.  Ain’t an asshole among them.”

Stranger finished the first taco, and shook some sauce on the second.  “I’m just here for some lunch.”

Waiter shook his head, “Yup.  That’s the thing an asshole with City money might say.  You got any more of it?”

“You looking to steal it from me?”  Stranger bit into the second taco.

“Fuck you, I don’t want any of that City money.  I just want to see if you’re who I think you are.”

“And if I am?” Stranger asked.  The room was smaller now, even the walls leaning in to eavesdrop.

“Plenty’a people willing to pay good money see you dead.  Actual money, something that’s worth more than a promise from some other asshole back at the City.”

Stranger stopped eating with one bite left in the taco, then put that carefully back into its red plastic basket.  He gave the waiter a good look for the first time.  He looked in his fifties, which probably made him twenty-five.  Desert had a way of aging people like that.  A cocksure grin spread across his face like a gash.  He’d heard the chairs scraping on the floor, knew the room was closing further in around him.  Not that he much cared.  He just knew.

Waiter continued, “And here we have that asshole right here.  The one that promises those coins are good.  The one that makes sure we don’t get anything out here but promises.”

Stranger sat back in his chair.

“Cause out here, we don’t like promises.  We like action.  We–”

Waiter finally stopped talking with the whiff of cooked meat.  Stranger put his pistol on the table, blue glow reflecting in the thick lacquer.  Room felt bigger now.  Little more comfortable.  He took his last bite of taco.  He rose and stretched, looking at the cowed room ready to be herded.  “So I can count on your votes?”

The room was quiet.

“Good.”

  1. avatar

    #1 by Jeff Xilon on June 8, 2012 - 11:58 am

    Glad to see you jumping back into a terribleminds challenge. I just flat out love this one. I try not to just gush over my fellow challenge takers’ entries. I try to say what I like about them and where I honestly think they could’ve been done better because that’s the kind of feedback I hope for myself. In this case though, I just love it. The dialogue seems pitch perfect for something right out of Deadwood. Love it.

  2. avatar

    #2 by Shiri on June 8, 2012 - 1:07 pm

    Reminds me of American Gods for some reason. Which is meant to be a massive compliment…

  3. avatar

    #3 by AB Singer on June 8, 2012 - 1:25 pm

    Had to read it twice to get it. [I think.] Wanted to read it twice to get it. An enviably crisp read with just enough ambiguity to make me work for my Lightbulb Moment fun.
    Thank you.

  4. avatar

    #4 by DLThurston on June 10, 2012 - 8:26 am

    I’m glad people are enjoying it. It’s something akin to doodling, I suppose. A setting that I was just poking around with to see if I liked it for a longer story.

  5. avatar

    #5 by BJ Kerry on June 11, 2012 - 5:11 am

    Have to agree with the 3 previous posters. You really know what you’re doing.

  6. avatar

    #6 by Keith on June 15, 2012 - 10:05 am

    Good read with a ahha neding. I don’t know if you intended the Star Wars reference but it works.

    K

(will not be published)


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