Dark Strangers

The bartender watched as The Stranger stepped through the swinging doors of the old cantina; the lights flickered and dimmed, obscuring the shabbiness of the place. 

He was tall and slim and his presence commanded every man’s attention. The room fell silent. The bartender wiped the countertop and pretended not to care as The Stranger sidled to the bar. 

“Tequila,” he slapped a hand on the counter and slid onto a barstool. The old man next to him gave him a quick once-over, gulped down his drink, put money on the countertop, and left. 

The Stranger grinned and downed the shot of Tequila before him. 

“Who among you is a man?” The Stranger spoke; no patron met his gaze. 

The bartender sighed. 

“No one?”

“We want no trouble here, señor,” the bartender murmured, eyes on the countertop. 

“No one will challenge me then?” The Stranger ignored the bartender. 

“I challenge you!” A low voice sounded from the corner. A man sat in shadow, his hat hung low over his eyes. 

Both men stood with hands on their gun-belts; The Stranger sneered. 

The patrons sat and stared. No one yelled, no one ran.

Two shots rang out. The duelers fell. Blood seeped into the sawdusty wooden floor. 

The bartender shook his head and the patrons returned to their business. Only I stared open-mouthed as the bodies vanished. The lights intensified. 

“Every night, to the minute,” the bartender rolled his eyes and filled my glass. My hand shook as I lifted it to my lips. 

“Those two pendejos appear, every night, and kill one another.”


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