ATTACK OF THE TACO CANNIBALS
by Tom Condarcure
“Oh, no! He changed right before our eyes.
I couldn’t believe it. He turned into one of them!”
Jane Greer in ‘Revenge of the Taco Cannibals’
Coleman Corman, Director
American Universal Pictures, Inc.,
Remember that line from the Humphrey Bogart movie? You know the one. He played a character named C. Fred Dobbs, or something like that. He’s in Mexico and he’s broke. C. Fred Dobbs is pretty much a bum. It was a great movie; it was called “Treasure of the Sierra Madre”. Well, someday, just for the fun of it, I’d like to walk up to some total stranger, an American, of course. I’d be bedraggled and unshaven, gaunt and crushed and every inch the victim of a random and apathetic fate.
“Pardon me,” I’d say, as I stared pathetically at the holes in my filthy shoes, unable to look anyone of any substance in the eye, “but could you help a fellow American who’s down on his luck?”
It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I came down here, but I’ve never seen an American roaming the dirt streets of this little town of Mizantla, a town hidden away incredibly well in central Mexico.
And somewhere along the line, I changed, or I was changed. I don’t know which, but it was in the summer.
Juan and Manuel tell me that I’m the only American they’ve ever seen in the flesh. They’ve seen plenty in the movies, but that doesn’t count. In the afternoon, they like to sit with me at a little table outside the cantina and drink a few beers.
“We got to get back to work,” Juan said. He sighed and frowned at the last few drops clinging stubbornly to the inside of his bottle.
“Man, it’s so hot today,” Manuel said. “I don’t want to go anywhere.”
“Come on. We’ve got to get back before Old Man Garza gets up from his siesta.”
“Okay. I guess we’ll see you tomorrow, amigo.” Manuel groaned as he got up from the chair and followed Juan to the street.
I took off my hat and waved it with a flamboyant flourish. “Adios, amigos,” I said.
They laughed and waved back. Poor guys. I watched them walk down the street, kicking up dust with those heavy boots of theirs. How could they wear those things in this miserable heat? I’ve been asking myself that same question each of the summers I’ve lived here. It was almost three o’clock; in a little while the afternoon storm would rumble through. I’d get some welcome relief from the heat for a few minutes.
I decided to get inside before the rain started, and I waved to the old bartender as I got closer to a table. Bowlegged, he came around the side of the counter with a bottle in one hand and a wet rag in the other. He let me know that every breath he took on his way to my table was a heroic effort in my behalf. I was flattered at what he was willing to go through to satisfy me. His arms moved as stiffly as if they were made out of wood as he wiped the table. Planting the bottle in front of me, he nodded once and, as if he was climbing the last few feet to the top of Mt. Everest, his oxygen almost depleted, he made his way back to a stool behind the counter.
“Gracias,” I said.
“De nada,” he said, and coughed.
When I see what some of the people here in Mizantla do for me, like the bartender, I get a little nervous, maybe a little guilty for being the rich americano living in their little town. It’s not like I’m a padrone or anything like that. I don’t think I act like that. I don’t walk down the streets followed by a mariachi band, waving thick wads of dollar bills in my hands. I don’t go around screwing every virgin I can find or shamelessly eating everything in sight. Well, I frequent the local brothel occasionally, but if I didn’t, they’d take it as an insult. After all, Senora Ramos’s establishment is an institution in this town going back several generations.
The beer was cold.
I have it a lot better than Bogie did. I’ve got enough money to keep me in beer and prostitutes for the rest of my life. So, maybe it’s not much of a life, depending on your point of view, but for a man in my situation, I don’t suppose I could have handled much more. After having a load of bricks dropped on me at a construction site a few years ago, I wasn’t capable of doing much else. Who would have thought it could happen to the architect and not one of the bricklayers? You have to figure that kind of accident is reserved for the hard-hat types.
I’m not bitter about it. I don’t go around cursing my fate day after day. Even if it took almost a year-and-a-half, I got a pretty good settlement from the insurance company; my lawyer was happy with it, anyway. C. Fred Dobbs never had that to fall back on.
The beer warmed up a little.
After the rehab, I went back to work, but the site manager told me to stay at the desk. He’d handle the field work from now on. Something about the insurance, he said. I didn’t like it. I used to be the outdoors type. My accountant told me I was getting into a tax situation with the salary and the settlement coming in. The doctor told me I should find somewhere warmer to live.
The beer warmed up a little more. I watched the dark clouds coming in from the west and thought about supper.
“Another cerveza, senor?” the bartender asked, from behind his counter. I know he’s told me his name more than once over the last two years, whenever I asked him. He doesn’t like to talk too much. I can’t remember what he told me.
“No,” I said. “A shot of tequila, por favor. No, wait, make it a shot and a beer.”
He lowered himself slowly and painfully from the stool. I barely heard him groan when he reached up to the bottles of liquor sitting on the shelf that had, by some miracle, never fallen from the wall behind the counter. I was grateful for the effort.
The first rumblings sounded softly from a few miles off. The darkening of the streets relaxed me; my sun-stressed eyes needed the rest from the brightness of the afternoon. I would relax even more when the thunder came in earnest. Loudness seemed to massage my soul, as much as it shook the walls and floor of the cantina. I considered the shot glass in front of me for a moment and threw down the tequila. I followed it quickly with half of the beer. I was now fortified for the coming storm, so I turned my chair to watch it.
The storms here in this part of Mexico follow that age-old tradition of the dramatic pyramid of tension; the storm states its premise, that it must release its rage through the lightning and thunder; there is rising tension due to conflict, exhibited by the thunder and lightning as they get closer and more violent. This finally reaches a climax with the storm overhead, the lightning hitting everything in the neighborhood; trees, buildings, setting things on fire and frying anything that happens to attract the lightning’s wrath. From the climax, the tension relaxes as the rain pours out of the sky. It’s just like Miss Meunier explained to us in my 11th grade English class.
The internal excitement I felt was just like that pyramid, a combination of ecstasy and terror. It might just be some inchoate holdover from the old caveman days, the fear of loud noises evolving from an instinct to run from the approaching storm and get inside the nearest cave, or anywhere not out in the open where the lightning can do its business to some hapless cave-dweller.
I can see them, now …
“Did you see what happened to Unga-Bunga?” one caveman asks, as he huddles against the farthest wall of the cave, shaking all over.
“Oh, yeah,” another caveman says. “The big, bright bone from the sky hit him. Now, he’s cooked like that deer we had the other night.”
“Hmmm. I wonder if he’s as good as deer.”
“There’s only one way to find out.”
“You’re right. Anyway, I’d hate to see Unga-Bunga go to waste.”
And so cannibalism comes into vogue for the Neanderthal.
As the storm passed to the east and the thunder became little more than a haunting echo, all the tension I might have been feeling drained out of me and into the floor. Exhausted, I slouched in my chair and sighed.
With only a light rain falling outside, I decided to get moving to my second destination for the day. After leaving the cantina, I sloshed along the muddy street between the low, white plaster buildings toward the other end of town. A few children played in the puddles and cast a few unmalicious insults in my direction as I shambled along. A few more children scampered out of the doorways and laughed at me. Mizantla was too small of a town to have their own village idiot, so I had to fill that position. I summoned all the civic responsibility I could muster, and I prattled and snarled my way to the diner. The kids laughed.
I really love the food down here, I mean the real Mexican food, the kind you get in these small towns. Each one has its own cuisine, its own spices, herbs and cooking method that separates one town from another. Of course, there is always the beans and rice; that goes without saying. Being close to the Gulf, Mizantla gets some fairly fresh seafood, and Luis knows how to prepare it in the local fashion. I could smell it cooking from the street.
He was leaning over his counter as I stepped through the doorway, entirely caught up in making some kind of notes on a newspaper with the stub of a pencil. Maybe he heard the chair scrape as I pulled it away from a table; Luis looked up from the paper and nodded once in my direction.
“Today, I have fish from the coast, amigo,” he said, still working on the paper. “Fresh. I have cooked it with onions and peppers and garlic. Some tomatoes, too.”
“I guess, I’ll have that,” I said. It had smelled pretty good outside. “How about a beer?”
He nodded again, still not looking up from the paper, and a few minutes later, he brought an opened bottle to me.
“It says here that they are coming to Veracruz,” he said. Back at the counter, he pointed to an advertisement in the paper with his pencil.
“Who’s that?” I said. I had a feeling I knew what he meant, but I decided to let him tell me.
“Los luchadores” he said. He went behind the counter and threw a piece of fish onto the grill.
“There will be ten matches, including a ladies’ match,” he said.
“I’m surprised Juan didn’t tell me,” I said. Actually Juan had mentioned it to me the other day. “It looks like we’ll be making the pilgrimage this weekend.”
“The trip, over to Veracruz.”
“Perhaps you can find room for me and my wife in your car? I have a feeling that my car will not make it.”
“Ah, yes,” he said, and let out a sad breath. “My car cannot run for more than five minutes before the motor starts coughing.” He turned around and faced me with his hands on the counter. “No matter where I am, it stops on me. Then I must get out and push it to the side of the road.”
“I think you need a new car,” I said.
He shrugged and went back to the grill, spooning out onions and peppers from a bowl by the fish. It smelled pretty good.
“How long have you had that car?” I asked. “Twenty years? How many people owned it before you?”
“Only three people that I know about. Yes, I believe you are right. Where am I going to get the money for another car?”
He scraped at the grill with a long, thin spatula, flipping the fish and the vegetables onto a plate, and he brought it to my table. The fabulous and pungent aroma of the onions and the peppers and the tomatoes and the garlic together with the fish made for a cloying hypnotic, and I inhaled deeply and without regret. This was the kind of food I lived for.
A young, well-dressed couple stood in the doorway. I don’t know how long they had been standing there, and they didn’t appear to be very happy about waiting for someone to notice.
“Please, excuse me, Padrone,” Luis said, and hurried over to them.
“Show us to a table, Luis,” the young man said.
His voice was smooth like motor oil and kind of high-pitched. I guessed he was from one of the rich families, the gentry, that owned all the land surrounding Mizantla. Out for a night on the town, I guessed. Luis was not allowed to pull out a chair for the young lady; that honor was reserved for the young man. Luis bowed and handed the young man one of his small, greasy menus. The young man took it without looking at Luis, and Luis backed off a few steps, leaning over slightly in the young man’s direction.
“I have fresh fish from the coast, Senor,” he said, breaking the long silence, but the young man and the girl continued to ignore him.
Finally, the young man said, “Do you indeed, Luis?” He continued to study the menu. “You say the fish is fresh?”
The young man let out a long breath. “Then, I believe that is what we will have.” He looked past the menu and smiled at the girl before holding it out more or less in the direction of Luis.
“Si, Padrone,” Luis said. He took the menu, bowed and backed away toward the grill.
“Isn’t that what the americano is eating?” the girl said. Her voice with thick and smooth, surprisingly deep for a girl who couldn’t have been more than sixteen, and it was also surprising to hear how much disgust a girl of that age could exhibit. Was it me or was it just what I was eating?
The young man turned around; I recognized him as one of Old Man Garza’s five sons.
“I believe it is,” he said, turning back to the girl with a shrug of resignation.
They leaned over the table and spoke quietly between themselves. If only I could have gotten closer to hear what they were saying – probably about me – but I gave up on that idea.
Luis worked savagely at the grill for a several minutes, completely forgetting about whatever he had been doing with the newspaper. Quickly, he carried to plates of fish to the table and placed them soundlessly in front of the young man and the girl. He hurried back to the counter, rummaged underneath for something and returned to the table with tableware and napkins, which he placed neatly by the plates.
When he came back to my table, he pulled out the other chair and dropped onto it. He shook his head.
“Well,” he said, softly, leaning toward me, “do you think it is possible that I accompany you to Veracruz on Sunday?”
“Sure,” I said, and placed my fork on the plate. I was just about finished with my meal. I wished I could have eaten all of it. “We can make room for you. I don’t know about your wife, though.”
“Oh, never mind about her. She does not appreciate the lucha libre, anyway. I don’t know what’s wrong with her.” He smiled. “Perhaps we can also find room in your car for cerveza?”
“We can always find room for that.”
He laughed, rather loudly, but he stopped, looking toward the young couple. They were engrossed in their own affairs.
“What time should we leave?” I asked.
“Oh, I think about one o’clock should be fine. That will give us enough time to get to Veracruz.”
“Excelente,” I said.
I heard tableware clang on the floor. Luis turned around to the young couple. The girl had dropped her fork. Luis got up to retrieve it.
We pretty much drank our way to Veracruz. Luis and Manuel took up the back seat of my Chevette and handed beers up to Juan and me from the cooler spanning their laps. It would have been a miserably hot drive, if the highway didn’t run down the coast, and luckily for us, a breeze was coming in from the Gulf. We enjoyed the wind blowing through the open windows, and I didn’t have to feel bad that my air conditioner quit on me years ago.
We made it to Veracruz with about a half-hour to spare before the bell was scheduled to ring for the first match. I had to cruise slowly in and out of the narrow streets until we came out into a wide plaza surrounded by tall, sweeping palm trees and brown, brick buildings.
“Over there,” Juan said, and pointed to a side street on the other side of the plaza. “I bet you can find a place to park over there.”
I headed the car in that direction, as carefully as I could, since I didn’t want to run over any of the thousands of people meandering about the plaza on a Sunday afternoon.
“Honk your horn, amigo,” Manuel said.
“Yeah, let them know we’re in a hurry,” Luis said.
I honked once and got some dirty looks from several mothers strolling with their small children.
Juan leaned out of the window and shouted. “Come on. Move it.”
I steered to the right and to the left and inched my way across the plaza until I drove my Chevette onto the side street. “I don’t see any parking spaces,” I said.
“Sure, man,” Juan said. “Keep looking. Yeah, there’s one, just up there. See?”
“Oh, yeah,” I said, and drove past four cars to park in the only space left.
“All right,” Luis said. “Let’s get going.”
We piled out of the car and walked three blocks to the arena.
“I’ll get the tickets,” Juan said, and took our money.
Feeling a little woozy, I leaned against the wall of the arena and watched the people moving around the food stalls. Everything smelled really good and spicy. I could have stood there and enjoyed those aromas for hours, the beef, the pork, the tomatoes, the peppers, the bread.
Juan’s voice broke me out of my alimentary reverie. “Hey, I got the tickets,” he said. “Good ones. Front row, man.”
We slapped him on the back and got in line for the turnstile.
People were everywhere, in the aisles pushing their way up and down the rows of seats, standing in the back or cramming themselves past people already seated. We cringed when several old men glared at us as we pushed past them.
“Front row seats,” Juan said, and waved his ticket at them. They cursed us, calling us all sorts of vile things, which we laughed at. We kept moving forward.
When I finally got to my seat, having pushed past the knees of a fat woman with incredibly large hair, I relaxed and watched three men climb into the ring. It looked like I had gotten to my seat just in the nick of time. Two of the men wore the striped shirts and dark pants of referees. One had a full head of hair, the other was thinning, both could barely keep their shirts tucked into their trousers. The third man was dressed smartly in a three piece suit, and he carried a microphone. They stood in the middle of the ring and chatted.
Now, a roar built slowly inside the arena. Where were the wrestlers going to enter? There they were, coming out of a doorway between two stands of seats, making their grand entrance with flashing lights and thick smoke. These three would make up the first team.
A beautiful young girl, and scantily clad, fringes dangling from her skin-tight costume, accompanied each wrestler.
“Take a good look at those,” Luis said, and nudged me in the ribs. “Hot stuff, eh?”
These guys weren’t what you would call physically large. As a matter of fact none of them was much bigger than me, although they were certainly built a lot better, probably a lot healthier, too. It’s hard to tell how old they are, since just about every one of them wore some type of mask. That was the whole mystique of these guys, the thing that made them larger than life.
The first time I came with Juan and Manuel to Veracruz to see the lucha libre, I couldn’t stop laughing at the costumes and the spectacle going on in the ring. I thought it was funny, like a clown act, these guys in wild costumes bouncing around all over. The people all around me, screaming and yelling and going crazy, I mean what was going on? I got Juan and Manuel pretty mad at me; on the drive home, they sat like statues all the way back to Mizantla, and they would barely speak to me for days. It took me a long time to realize how badly I had insulted them by laughing and making fun of rituals I had not even tried to understand.
It was only after living for a long while in Mizantla among the people, mingling with people in the other towns, getting hints here and there about how these people saw the world and the things that went on that I finally saw what I had only looked at before. The costumes of the luchadores, the battle between two opposing forces played out in the wrestling ring, all of it was a mix of ancient religion and modern icons, forces from different times all molded into the now. Aztec, Mayan and Toltec god-images meshed with New World figures, sun gods, jungle and ocean images, Catholicism, the boundaries blurred and mixed with pop culture until any line of demarcation was completely obscured.
One wrestler might represent a sky god while another was an earth spirit, both of them comprising warring forces of nature, and the battles were waged in front of the audience. It was something that being a pseudo-cosmopolitan American, I would never totally comprehend, and I realized why Juan and Manuel had been upset with me, even though they were polite enough not to come right out and rebuke me for my ignorance.
The first match started, and I was amazed at the athletic ability of these guys, who performed like Olympic gymnasts with unbelievable vaults and twists in the air, diving off the top rope onto each other, keeping up the contest for almost thirty minutes. I felt myself twisting and turning with each incredible move in the ring, I screamed and yelled with everyone in the arena, cheering the tecnicos, booing the rudos, which was my particular prejudice. It all depends on your orientation, I suppose; the tecnicos usually represent sky images and sometimes icons from everyday life, real people, working people, people like your uncle or your cousin. The rudos are mostly earth images or symbols of death; they inflict pain. I guess I naturally gravitated to the sky.
The show lasted over three hours, and it was a good dose of cultural vaccination for me. When the treatment was complete, I was left emotionally limp and in a stupor as I mechanically followed the crowd through the aisles to the exits. The roaring inside the arena had been an almost continuous wave of thunder beating against my body as much as against my ears while the matches had been going on. Now, there was just a soft, exhausted murmur coming from the people, every one of us too tired and soaked with sweat and beer.
The effort of trekking out of the arena to the street left Juan, Manuel and Luis red-faced and breathing heavily.
“Amigo,” Luis said, barely able to get the word out, “I must rest a moment.”
We stopped for a while, we went on; we stopped for a while, we went on. We got back to my car and started back to Mizantla.
We knew before we started our pilgrimage to Veracruz that there would be no possibility of buying beer on Sunday, so we planned ahead. The first cooler of beer had been emptied on the way in, which left the second cooler sitting in the trunk, still full and waiting for us. For the sake of modesty, we held our thirst in abeyance as I piloted the Chevette through the narrow lanes leading north out of Veracruz, partly from modesty and mostly from a healthy respect for the police, who took a dim view of drinking and driving in their city, especially when they couldn’t have any.
We had plenty to talk about, recalling one wrestler’s finishing move, the defeat of another particular rudo, one representing a kind of terrifying death spirit, at the hands of a tecnico calling on the soul of the ocean. We debated the good and the bad until we got the coast road. Manuel passed around bottles of beer from the back seat, and we settled in for the drive.
Sitting next to me, Juan took a long drink from his bottle and tucked it between his knees. He looked out the window but didn’t say anything. None of them said anything for a long time. I guessed they were all lost in contemplation of the spectacle we had witnessed.
“El Volador,” Luis said, surprising me when we left the coastal highway for the narrow road that would take us inland. “He is an incredible wrestler. Did you see how he defeated Sicosis?”
I handed my empty bottle to Manuel, and he dug through the ice for another.
“No, no,” Luis went on, “there is no luchador to compare with El Volador. What do you think, amigo?”
I didn’t want to be caught up in any controversy. In my own humble opinion, I believed that Solar Sangre was a wrestler not to be trifled with, a tecnico almost without peer, and I said so.
“Oh,” Juan said. He appeared to be thinking that over. “You still have much to learn, but do not trouble yourself. We will teach you.”
The coastal highway was far behind us now as the jungle of central Mexico swallowed the world. I’ve heard that there are ruins scattered all through the jungle, completely hidden by the thick green and the rotting vegetation. Every time I drove that road, I wanted to stop at some pile of rocks barely visible in the bushes, something that may have been left there a thousand years before. It was better to let things stay as they were. I didn’t stop. I never stopped. I didn’t want some jungle spirit to get mad at me for playing around with things I had no business disturbing.
“I need to stop for a piss break,” Manuel said.
“We’ll be back in town in twenty minutes,” I said.
“I have to go, too,” Luis said.
Juan nodded. I acquiesced. I had a feeling that my bladder would not hold on to much longer, certainly not long enough to get back home.
There was no room to pull off the road, so I just stopped. With much effort and groaning, we worked our way out of the car and to the side of the road, forming an artillery battery at the edge of the impassable vegetation.
“I bet I can piss farther that you,” I said to Luis, who stood next to me.
Luis turned his head in my direction and shrugged. “Perhaps, amigo,” he said, and shot a stream twelve feet into the foliage. I couldn’t beat that. I had been overconfident and overmatched. With great humility, I admitted defeat.
As I zipped my pants, I thought I heard something moving through the mass of vines and leaves, and I took one cautious step into the green. “What do you think it is?” I asked. Juan and Manuel leaned against the car and paid no attention.
“I would guess some small animal,” Luis said. “Maybe a lizard. There is nothing very large that lives around here.”
“What kind of lizard? Do they bite?” I pulled my foot back to the road.
“Who can say unless you can see it. If your curiosity is aroused, you should get closer.”
“What if it’s a snake? I don’t want to get a snake bite.”
“Oh, I don’t believe that there are any poisonous snakes in this area. Even if a snake bit you, it would only hurt for a short time.”
“Maybe I’ll wait and see what it is.”
“Your curiosity has found discretion. Very good.”
I didn’t wait. We finished our drive home in the heavy, still heat of the afternoon.
I always expected it to cool down in the evening, and I was always disappointed several hours after the sun had gone down when I was still sweating. I lay in bed that night, alone, unfortunately, with the window open and the black-and-white TV playing an old movie, a movie about some kind of demon monsters terrorizing a village that looked an awful lot like Mizantla. The light breeze pushing at the curtains brought the sounds of distant jungle birds, loud and raucous calling of creatures to each other, maybe even the simpering snarl of small jungle cats. Sometimes when I walked along the edge of the town, I saw small pig-like creatures scuttling through the bushes. I could imagine them in a desperate battle with the felines, screaming and snarling as one tried to make a meal of the other. There were plenty of insects humming out there, not to mention the huge and hairy spiders crawling outside the walls of my house, spiders that pounced on their prey and tore them to shreds without bothering to kill them first. I didn’t want to think about the millipedes.
I suppose I drank too much that day. I wished I could fall asleep; I wanted that movie to put me to sleep, but I was drawn into it, watching the hideous beasts from the jungle catching young girls and old men. I was drawn in.
My head spun, and I hung my foot off the edge of the bed. The images of the wrestling contests floated in my mind and mixed with the scenes of the movie, with the calls and snarls from the jungle outside, all of it like oil swirling on the surface of a puddle.
Somewhere on the fringes of my consciousness, the sounds and images became voices speaking in a language I had never heard, but in words that I half-understood and other fragments that made no sense, tones and sounds that were as familiar as my room and as alien as a Mayan temple.
The language was ancient, dusty and crumbling, rising from dead ruins. I thought its attention was on me. I believed it spoke to me of a long death and jungle creatures, images loud and colorful wishing for life and energy.
I was an eavesdropper; they were not speaking to me. I had to be asleep and dreaming. They went on, screaming of fighting and hunting, of war and the battles that had been fought, conquests and gods thirsting for ritual blood and the sacrifices of enemies.
Someone put food in front of me, but it was no good, just the crap they served in cheap, greasy food joints from another life. Those people from not so long ago had no business preparing the food. It was sacrilege.
The tacos rose from my plate, indignant. I had to be dreaming. I sat on stone ruins and watched dispassionately as they came for me, stalking me, wishing that I was dead and wanting me. I had to eat them first, them and those slimy beans that were worse than garbage. I ate them before they ate me; they screamed. I was a taco cannibal; I used to be no better than them; at one time I had been no better than them. Now …
I hear the women calling to me from the brothel, singing my name. They cannot live without me. I see the stern smiles of spirits or ghosts barely accepting me, but I have crossed over. The jungle awaits. At the ragged edge of consciousness, the movie droned on, but I was enthralled.
My eyes refused to open. I knew it was morning; it had to be. There was light; vicious, sadistic light drilling into my throbbing head. If I didn’t get out of bed there was going to be a horrific mess to clean up; my stomach told me so. I stumbled over something. I didn’t care what it was. In my bathroom, I splashed cold water on my face. I couldn’t look worse than I felt. My eyelids lifted enough to let me see a face a little darker than usual in the mirror, a trace of thin moustache. I had to get outside immediately.
I made it to the street and threw up; I wouldn’t have to clean the floor and the dogs would be happy.
I stood in my doorway, barefoot, and wondered why no one was moving about out there in the town. My eyes got used to the sunlight, that vicious, sadistic sunlight. I took one more deep breath and went inside to get a beer. What the hell, I’d throw an egg in it and make it breakfast.