Because it's dumb, but really fun. I'm the green posts.
Sizejohn scoffed to himself, eyeing the slapdash and slipshod workmanship. But choosing the cheapest, worst, most rundown place to stay gave the upper crust citizens to impress him by “rescuing” him from his conditions.
Carne Asada surely had upstanding higher class citizens. A salsa vein like the one here always attracted the rich vultures.
The bartender walked up to the middle door and tried to open it. He struggled with it for a moment before throwing his shoulder unceremoniously into it, allowing the door to pop open.
“haHA! Sticks a bit but it’s the finest room you’ll see” he giggled fiendishly.
The odor of stale tostadas wafted out as Sizejohn took a look at the accommodations. A queen sized bed sagging deeply in the center hugged the far left corner, with a cracked mirror and rusted sink to the right of it. On the right wall was a dresser that looked as if it had been carved out the wall itself, looking as if it couldn’t take a fly landing on it, yet alone clothes. The one saving factor was the view. There was a small window on the back wall at the head of the bed, looking out on the Vein.
“This will do just fine good Sir” Sizejohn yawned as he threw his satchel down on the bed. The squishing noise it made when it hit did not encourage him.
“Excellent to hear! haHA!” exclaimed the bartender, “If you need anything, I’ll be downstairs, OH! And the name’s Lucky!”
Sizejohn approached the window, ignoring Lucky as he tottered out of the room. Taking a deep breath, he could almost smell the cilantro at the mine.
Rolling hills disguised the juicy flavors beneath. Only a madman, or a genius, would have prospected for salsa here. Only time would tell whether Carne Asada would thrive, or fall to pieces when the vein ran dry.
“Pico de gallo, the rarest of the salsa ores,” he mused. Rich chunks of tomato and peppers, with the right balance of cilantro and onion, pico was almost a meal unto itself.
Slamming his fist on the window sill, Sizejohn turned his back to the cruel mistress that was a salsa mine.
Sizejohn woke groggily from his afternoon siesta. In a town like Carne Asada, almost no one was out in the mid-afternoon. The sun was too hot, and the shelter of the buildings were too great a calling. He stretched, and checked his supplies.
He’d brought enough of the good stuff with him to make the proper connections before he would start getting the life-crushing oil in from his storehouse down in Carnitas. It was a simple plan, get the finer denizens of the community hooked on his magic sauce, and the rest would fall into place. He’d be able to get the city to begin to crumble, to where the Salsa Mine itself would start to suffer. Then he’d get himself a stake in the company, and slowly wean the community back onto a ‘higher quality’ of oil. All he had to do was find a patsy, someone he could turn the eye of the town onto once things started getting bad.
Lucky was a possible choice, but only as a last resort. He wasn’t bright enough for people to believe him to be a mastermind, so Sizejohn would keep his eyes open, find someone who would fit the role a bit better.
It’d worked before, many times before….Chalupa Canyon, Quesadilla Junction, Chili Reanno….just that damned Chihuahua incident. Nothing to think about now, that was a long time ago, and he was a lot wilier than he had been back then.
Standing at the rickety dresser and the chipped wash basin, Sizejohn tried rinsing the sour taste of bad picante from his mouth. Amazing how long the bad ones lingered. Some rapped at his door, not too loud, not too quietly. Narrowing his eyes, the taco oil peddler crossed warily to the door. It opened with a jerk and a groan, revealing a middle aged couple.
“Greetings,” the man started. He wore all black, with a broad rimmed hat. Sizejohn recognized him as a man of the cloth. “I am Pastor Fitzmutton, and this is my wife, Bedelia.” She bowed her head, hands clasped around a prayer book. “We represent the Carne Asada Welcoming Committee. It is our honor to invite you to dinner at our house tonight.”
If there was one thing that frustrated him more than salsa mines, it was religious leaders. Giving his friendliest smile, Sizejohn replied, “I would love to.”
After receiving directions to the good Pastor’s home, Sizejohn unceremoniously closed the door. And then kicked the corner of it to get it to stay closed.
He stretched, rubbing the stubble on his chin and realizing that a shave would be in order. He should be able to get a bead on the town over at the barber’s shop. He looked back out the window, gazing up at the slowly descending sun. He had about an hour and a half until he was expected for dinner, and he wouldn’t want to be late. Whatever would the holy man think of tardiness?
Reaching into his satchel, he pulled out a fresh pair of clothes. He always travelled light, knowing he could pick up the local attire in town once he’d figured out his angle. Light brown jerkin, faded jeans, they were endless classics that would get him through the evening’s affair. He changed quickly into the new clothes, grabbed his bag and headed out the door.
This barber shop was an interesting reflection of the town. The laborers, the ones busting their backs in the mine, weren’t here. They’d work until dark, and would stay in camp until payday. Life was too hard to waste frivolous chips.
But the well-to-do were here. The mine owners, the banker, the owner of the general goods, all were gathered around the man in the chair. They gossiped, worse than any sewing circle, and plotted, and were a good old boys club.
They all fell silent when he walked in. He was a stranger, an anomaly, and possibly a danger. He gave his best salesman’s smile, brighter than the summer sun. “Good day, gentleman. Word is this is the only place a civilized man can get his grooming done.”
They smiled back, relaxing, taken in with minimal effort.
“Have you got time to give me a quick shave?” Sizejohn asked sincerely, giving the barber a wink as he did
“Of course Sir, it is a pleasure to meet a gentleman with the taste to grace himself with the quality of my establishment” the barber gleamed, returning the wink back. The barber hopped out of his chair, grabbed up his shaving bib, and made a show of dusting the seat off for his customer, grinning the entire time.
There hadn’t been many people who had come to Carne Asada since the beginning of the war, not new people at least. Sure, the camps always had their wagons full of fresh flesh for the mines, but someone who wasn’t elbow deep in salsa 19 hours a day were few and far between. That was part of the reason he’d selected this once bustling mining town. Oh, there was still good business, and people still stopped on their way to other cities, especially Chili Crossing, but it wasn’t the same.
Sizejohn lightly dropped himself into the chair, and looked at each of the men who sat around him.
“Carne Asada is certainly bustling. Must have taken pure ingenuity to set up here so quickly. And with the rail thinking of heading north to Sauerkraut Creek.” Sizejohn shook his head slightly while the barber made up his lather. “That mine sure is something.”
The short man with the heavy jowls adjusted his jacket, rocking back and forth on his heels. “That would be mine. Land given to my granddaddy back in the Potato-Yam war for services rendered.”
“And you held onto it until the right time. Commendable.” The barber tipped Sizejohn back, lathering his face.
The overly tall man in the tan suit nodded his head. “Oh yes. Stackbabber and I spent many summers looking for just the right place to dig. When our guide fell into a sinkhole, all we thought was tragedy. But his loss has brought us this booming town.”
The middle man, leather skinned with narrow eyes, glared suspiciously at Sizejohn. “What is your interest in our town?”