De-Duped: A Short Story

This is a set of several stories. Like any set, duplicates have been removed, leaving only the unique values in each story. The unique values consist of names, places and events. Certain common elements have been removed for no good reason. One of the unique names is Richard. Richard loved tacos but he didn´t know anything about them. He thought they had originated in the south of Spain and were supposed to be called morditas. He also believed with all his heart that a mordita served with onions was not only egregious but had also been the true proximate cause of World War One. This was not entirely Richard´s fault. He had been misinformed. The person who had planted these seeds of ignorance in his brain was named Mylie. Mylie had given him the gift of taco history. They had grown up together in the Seaside district of Placenta, California, a town famous for its historical collection of idiots, which included one former President of the United States and no fewer than two State Senators. There was a public swimming pool in Placenta which over the years had excluded women and children as well as people of Asian, Latin and African descent. The pool was kept at a constant temperature of eighty two degrees and smelled like any other public swimming pool, an instantly recognizable mixture of acid, piss and rain.

Directly across the street from the swimming pool was a restaurant called La Mordida which was famous for its tacos. Richard used to go in and order chicken ¨morditas¨, which were not on the menu. He meant tacos but didn´t know he meant tacos and anyway, once he had caused a long line to form behind him while he argued until the cashier gave in and took his money and wrote tacos on the bill anyway and handed it back to the chef, the next bit of trouble occurred when the order arrived and it contained, naturally, onions. This is when Richard would start complaining in a loud voice about World War One and What The Hell.

Richard loved tacos but the person who stood patiently behind him in line was named Larrold and he hated tacos. He not only hated tacos, he despised burritos as well, and fajitas, and pretty much any kind of food except flautas. The chef at La Mordida happened to make excellent flautas, which was why Larrold (who could never be called Larry to his face without a fight breaking out) often went there for just that reason. Now a flauta is basically a taco that´s been rolled up and fried, but Richard did not know that. He was still arguing with the cashier about his order when he noticed Larrold´s flautas, and turned to ask him if it had onions in it.

Of course it has onions, Larrold told him. What are you, a freaking idiot?

Tacos are not supposed to have onions, Richard insisted.

Shut the front door, Larrold said (in other words), and stop arguing with Lolita and get your ass outta here, you freaking moron.

My name is not Lolita, said the cashier.

Was I talking to you, sweetheart? Larrold turned on her with his fat red face. In his trembling right hand the small plate holding the two delicate chicken and avocado flautas also trembled. Plates held by Larrold had met floors before, and walls, and even someone´s ear on one occasion. Larrold was not to be trifled with. He conceal-carried a firearm as was his God-given right in God´s own country of Placenta, California. It not only went to church with him on Sundays, but also to La Mordida on Tuesdays and everywhere else he went on any other day.

Her name is not Sweetheart, said the chef, who stepped forward now, the large butcher knife in his hand still dripping fresh chicken blood. Did I mention that La Mordida was famous for its fresh chickens? They lived (temporarily) in a coop out back, facing the ocean so they could at least smell the salt air and dream of a peaceful bobbing in the waves during those long nights of hatching eggs and preparing for death. The chef´s name was Tony and so was the cashier´s, though they were short for different longer ones.

Damn good flautas, Larrold murmured, backing away and beginning to munch on one. He didn´t give a damn about Richard but he did like his flautas, and for once he let his brain do a bit more thinking than his pistol.

As for you, said Tony, advancing on Richard with the bloody knife, if I ever hear another peep out of you about onions or World War One, I will cut your freaking balls off, do you hear me?

But Mylie said, Richard began. Tony interrupted him.

Leave my sister out of this, he snarled.

She told me, Richard said but quickly shut his trap as Tony (the chef) raised his knife in a synchronous ballet of threat and fear. Tony (the cashier) said

Next!

This story happened four Tuesdays in a row, word for word and scene for scene, but according to the rules of sets and Venn diagrams, this fact has been redacted from the official record. There is also no mention of a snickering Mylie, hiding behind the hot grill and near to bursting with glee. A future State Senator, she was cutting her teeth early on the gullibility of the public in Placenta.

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