The stranger entered the Juarez bar with a jangle of spurs, a cloud of cigar smoke, and a faint but audible twang of guitar strings. He had a hard face with a hard life writ large upon it, hovering over a sweat-speckled ranch hand’s shirt and below a beat-up Stetson that was at least as old as disco.

He trudged over to the bar, slouched upon it, and ordered the strongest drink on the menu–a boilermaker made from tequila and whiskey–by flicking his thumb at the menu. The bartender opened his mouth to protest, but upon seeing (and smelling) the man before him, he thought better and served the drink unquestioningly.

“Tell me,” the stranger said in clear but accented Gringo Spanish after slamming back the sledgehammer cocktail in a single drag. “What do you know about Señor Guerrero?”

The bartender’s eyes widened. “Nothing. Nothing at all!”

“Let me tell you a story,” said the stranger in a rough voice braised in the harshest of liquors. “I have traveled many a long and weary mile on this earth in search of one thing, and one thing only. I want the best, and people who get between me and it tend to end up in the hospital if they’re lucky, the morgue if they’re not. I have heard that Señor Guerrero is the man to talk to about this in these parts, and that his product is stronger and more pure than that of his competitors.”

“But-” the bartender started.

“I’ve tried what his competitors have to offer and found it wanting,” the stranger continued, growling out the Gringo Spanish as if it were a series of hard watermelon seeds. “So you will tell me where I might find Guerrero and his product, right now. Or you’ll be seeing the inside of a white room of one kind or another very, very shortly.”

His hand trembling, the bartender held out a faded and warn business card for Señor Guerrero’s Secret Taqueria featuring the Hottest Tacos and Taquitos in the World. The stranger took it without a word, paid his bill, and left.

“Soon,” he murmured, patting his belly even as he felt the great taco hunger rising within his gullet once more. “Soon.”

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