Submitted for this week's Friday Flash Fiction:
Prompt: ANYTHING GOES – Battle Royale with your favorite villians, monsters and myths.
Word Count: Under 1500 words
Dedicated to Dale, who fought the Korean Bagel Lady in the original series.
It was a hot day in Tijuana, but it was a good heat, in that it was dry and several degrees higher than the current temperature in Canada. And several is a lot when you're talking Celsius. I was in the middle of my vacation, knee-deep in margaritas, burritos, and lots of direct sunlight. But it was about the time in a vacation where I started to need a taste of home. Also, there was going to be a beheading downtown in the evening and I really wanted to change into something more appropriate first.
I started the long walk back from the beach to my hotel, but there was a prostitute jam, so I had to side step it into an alleyway. I thought that if I continued in this direction then I could eventually take a right and another right and I'd be back on track towards the Casa del Suave Rico in no time.
I soon found myself wandering around and ending up in the "Real Mexico." It was tough and gritty and I was conspicuously sunburned. I kept my pace and continued in what I thought was a westward direction, hoping to at least get back to the beach, where I could be a victim of tourist traps rather than an abduction or worse.
As the sun began to set behind the buildings, a sign caught the light in a specific way, such that I was temporarily blinded. I stopped and rubbed my eyes. When the psychedelic retinal burns subsided, I was able to read the sign: La Tienda del Panecillo. There was a picture of a bagel on it. I couldn't resist heading over there. I was intoxicated by the bready aromas and the promise of some food that wasn't tortilla-based.
The bell jingled as I entered the bagel shop. I was hoping to find that they offered a cheese bagel and cup of coffee, an old favorite of mine. I hadn't stepped foot in any bagel shop since The Korean Bagel Lady closed hers down for good three years ago. She said she was retiring, but I believe she may have actually killed someone by adding bleach to his coffee and was skipping the country to head to Panama with her husband and stay one step ahead of the Mounties.
There was a small crowd around the counter. These were North Americans, if all the L.L. Bean labels and the highlighted hairdos I saw indicated anything. A man was shouting. I edged my way forward to see what was going on.
"There is something wrong with this coffee," he yelled.
"No there isn't, dumbass," came the reply.
That was all I needed to hear. It was her all right; that was what she used to call me. I could also tell by the antidulcet tones and the smirk that went with it. I was sorry I didn't already have my coffee and bagel as I settled into a chair near the fracas to take it all in.
"Yes there is something wrong with this coffee!! My tongue is numb!!!" he repeated, an edge settled on the side of his voice that made me take a good look at his face. He sounded familiar and with one good look, I knew where I knew him from: The Lethal Weapon movies they played on channel six.
"You think you famous and that mean you can yell at me, blame me for your coked-out tongue, but you can't!"
"Listen, lady," he said, wiping his face with his bandana and trying to calm himself, "I am not on coke, ok?"
"If you say so...yeah...you right, you too fat to be on coke."
Ignoring this, he pressed on, "My company hired you to provide coffee and bagels to us while we worked on our film..."
"You mean you try hire my shop but pay Mexican prices," she corrected. "I not Mexican, I Kor-e-an, deserve better. Go get some huevos rancheros from Juan if you want Mexican prices."
"But we still paid you, lady," he said keeping his calm, but I could see his hands were starting to shake, "That means we bought this coffee from you. It is bad. You need to either give us our money back or give us some new coffee, that's how it works."
"Pfft," she splurted and yelled something incomprehensible to the back room. More shouts returned.
"You know what she say about you back there?" she asked him.
"No, I don't speak Korean," he replied wearily.
"That not Korean, dumbass, that Spanish," she grinned, mocking him. "I'm bilingual, not stupid and ignorant like you."
"Fine, what did she say?" he asked. He really should have kept his mouth shut, took the coffee and headed back to work at this point. He's asking for whatever he gets now.
"She say you crazy, don't deserve good coffee."
"Yes, and I agree. Get lost, fatty," she said, waving the back of her hand at him.
"That's it," he said, his eyes bulging, "You cannot tell me that I don't deserve good coffee!"
"Yeah!" he retorted. "I have Oscars! I have money! I am the most feared man in Hollywood! I am beholden to no studio and I don't have to kowtow to anyone. I produce my own work and I say what I want, I drink what I want and I interpret history how I want! How would you like it, lady, if my next movie was an expose on how shitty Korea is? Huh?!? How about I tell everyone what a jerk you people are?!?"
"You think you can tell the world how shitty Korea is? What, you think you surprise them? Why you think I not in Korea? I'm smart, that's why...unlike some other people in this room like you," she snotted and pointed into his face.
He jumped over the counter and grabbed her finger and twisted with all of his might. The Lady screamed and fell backwards toward the dual coffee machine. She reached for the decaf pot and pitched the contents into his face and then slammed the empty pot onto the edge of the countertop, shattering it.
"You want a piece of me?!?" she yelled, waving the shredded remains of the pot in his face.
"Aaargh!" he screamed as he toppled backwards, his face sizzling.
"Come on, fatty dumbass!" she taunted, "Show Lady Gin what you're made of!"
His assistant caught him and handed him a can of Red Bull. He hefted it in his hand and hurled it at her head with all of his strenghth. She ducked in plenty of time, then leapt onto the counter, weilding the jagged coffee pot.
"You leave now," she yelled.
"Not without my coffee!" he screamed and bounded toward her.
She shrieked and swung her leg around and nearly caught his jaw with her shin. He grabbed her by the ankle and gave her the crazy eyes and pushed her backwards.
She staggered and nearly dropped off the counter, but caught her balance. They locked eyes and began to circle one another. She dropped down from the counter and they squared off, grabbing each others shoulders and slamming each other into things.
My need for a bagel and a cup of coffee started to wear off. I thought I'd better leave before I was noticed and dragged into this affair. I got up from my seat and sidled over to one of the members of the production team.
"Psst," I hissed to one of the ladies. She appeared to be holding the movie star's keys.
"Huh?" She said, turning to me, slowly tearing her eyes from the dannybrook.
"Jessica?" I asked, recognizing my former co-worker.
"Dale?!?" She squealed.
"Shhh..." I hushed her and signled for her to join me outside this little Casa de Loco.
We slipped out of the front door as a table crashed through the front window.
"What are you doing here?" I asked. "I thought you were working for the Ministry of Labour not Mel Gibson."
"I am working for the Ministry of Labour," she expained, "I'm just undercover right now. Come on, I'll take you back to your hotel and tell you all about it."
"Won't they miss you?"
"Nah," she waved her hand in dismissal, "That prick can find his own way home. Here, jump in the HumVee."
I hoisted myself in and plopped down on the luxurious leather front seat of the paramilitary monstrosity. She climbed in to the driver's seat and got situated. She turned the keys in the ignition. The engine roared in the way that only eighty thousand dollar engines can and I was immediately chilled to the bone by a fierce blast from the air conditioning and the Adam Lambert CD in the stereo. I hoped the windows were bullet-proof.
"Yeah, we almost had her in Toronto, but she figured out how to get to Panama on a loophole in the immigration policy. We had to let her go, but I followed her."
"Seriously?" I asked, "I mean, seriously? Why?"
"Violation of minimum wage laws. And attempted murder. I'm working with the Mounties on this one."
"How did you get in with Mel Gibson's crew?"
"Well, you'd never know it, but all of his productions are covers for covert investigations. It's a win-win. We clear the way for him to film his crack-pot histories and we slip in while the local government is temporarily blinded by Hollywood glamor."
"Wow," I said, stunned.
"Yeah," she replied, "But he might be at the end of his usefullness. I'm not sure he'll be able to take the Korean Bagel Lady down."
"Shouldn't you stick around and make sure?"
"Nah, policy says Canadians first and you are that, so I'm getting you out of this hellhole and taking you to the Mexican opera. We'll leave them to it and let the best asshole win."