“I don’t much care for guacamole,” I said, pushing the dish away. We were the only two customers in El Payaso, a dimly-lit Tex-Mex-Chinese place that also did donuts. Behind the counter, a tall, thin man in a sombrero was standing motionless. “What’s his problem,” I asked, jerking a thumb at the man behind counter.
“That’s a skeleton,” said the Dame. “Y’know, Halloween?”
“Maybe, maybe not.” I shrugged. “So, let’s get down to business.”
We eyed each other across the table, as a mariachi version of ‘My Sharona,’ the 1979 hit from the Knack played in the background. It was, all things considered, pretty good. The Dame was dressed in a conservative dark suit that left everything to the imagination. It was so concealing it actually bent light around it. I was wearing jeans and an anime t-shirt, just to show I meant business.
“You go first,” she finally said, as she toyed with a cardboard coaster. It had a picture of a parrot with a machete on it that reminded me of the ‘parrot and machete’ stand my grandpa ran back in the old country (Chicago).
“Nah,” I replied with a shake of my head. “I’ve been to this dance before. Last time I got knocked in the head with a trophy and woke up next to a guy peeing.”
“You wanted a tango, you got a tango.”
“I don’t recall asking you to lead.”
“You seemed desperate for a partner.”
“Maybe I just wanted a waltz? A simple box step.”
She frowned and tapped her coaster on the table. A paper airplane floated by. It had a dirty word written on it. “I’m completely out of dancing metaphors,” she finally said.
“You could go with something like ‘you were in the wrong ballroom’ or something.”
“Why don’t we pretend that we had a good ten minutes of witty dancing repartee and get on with it?”
“Fine.” I cleared my throat. “I’m going to have the stir fry chicken fajitas.”
“Tofu and cheese enchilada,” she said.
“Now that we have that out of the way,” I said. “What does the clown mafia want?”
Tomorrow: Part 2