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It was a rough town. Hot and dusty, where unshaven men showed off sweaty armpits as a mark of machismo.

Tough Guy pushed open the swing-doors and stepped into the smoky saloon – Bristle and Saddle Sores. He paid no attention to the stench from unwashed bodies. He was unwashed too. He walked over to the bar, placed an elbow on the counter and turned to survey the place.

“What’ll it be, stranger?” A typical welcome from a typical overweight bar-keep.

“Brandy.”

“Ain’t got none.”

“Beer.”

“Ain’t got none.”

“Firewater.”

Bar-Keep scratched his chin that said let’s see now. Then he said,

“Nah. Ain’t got none.”

“What d’ya have?”

“Pina Coloda.”

“Okay, I’ll have the Puerto Rican.”

“One unwashed Puerto Rican coming up.” Bar-Keep turned his back.

‘Si, senor?’ Local drunk sidled up and said,

“Buy me a drink.”

“Why?” said Tough Guy.

“Why? What do you mean why?” Local drunk  has plenty to say. He came close to the stranger. Real close. Like, in your face close. Like you can see last week’s beef jerky stuck in his rotten teeth close. “B’cos I’m thirsty, that’s why.”

“Bugger off.”

“Brit? I thought we whipped you redcoats years back.” Local Drunk knew his history.

“I’m Aussie.”

“How come you ain’t walking no upside down?” Local Drunk knew his geography too.

The saloon had gone quiet. All eyes were on the duo by the bar. No one paid no attention even to Miss Boopsie. Everyone admired her… brains.

“Did anyone ever tell you you’ve bad breath?” said Tough Guy.

“What d’ya mean by bad breath?”

“Halitosis.”

“Why you no good sonabitch.” Local Drunk stepped back and drew his gun.

A shot rang out. Local Drunk flew off his feet and crashed into a conveniently placed table. China-made. Built to shatter real-easy like.

“Anyone else reckon they know my mother?” said Tough Guy. He waved his gun as he spoke.

Cowpokes and card-sharks dived for cover. They found the congressman, the banker and the priest under the table with Miss Boopsie. They were admiring her… brains.

“Take it easy, son,” said Bar-Keep. He knew everyone’s mother. “Here’s your drink.”

Bar-Keep slid the glass across the bar counter. It jumped over the chewed tobacco, skirted a couple of bottles, did a somersault and stopped right next to Tough Guy’s hand.

“Mud in your eye.” Tough guy knew his scripture. Of course he downed his drink in one gulp. Bet you never seen a tough guy take a dainty-like sip.

Peace restored; the piano returned to life. Everyone went back to gambling. And drinking. And hollering. And admiring Miss Boopsie’s… brains.

Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2019