Johnny Disco, soldier, adventurer, ladies’ man, had arrived at the Angry Tiki. Rather, he had swaggered into the bar making sure everyone knew this suave tourist was in town.
“Johnny!” smiled Luz. “I’m glad you could make it.
“I’m sure you are,” Ned smiled back. “Give me your phone. I’ll take a picture of us so you’ll remember the night Johnny Disco danced with you.”
Ned wowed the crowd with his dance moves. Everyone in the bar–including the illegal export group–wanted to know more about this new arrival. In his disguise, Ned was everything he usually wasn’t: brash, attention seeking, and a spendthrift. “Barkeep, keep the drinks flowing. It’s on my tab tonight.”
Ned was on a roll. He beat everyone at darts. He grilled up the best hot dogs the locals said they’d ever eaten. “The secret is to get the briquettes at the right temperature. And then slather your dogs with Simchula sauce. Spicy!”
When their backs were turned, Ned had used what he learned in the secret spy books and bound the dolls to each of the illegal import members and the bartender.
When he kissed Luz, however, he realized it wasn’t any kind of mischief spell that caused her to swoon. She was really falling for this bad-boy persona of his. Better that than his falling for her, Ned reminded himself. She may seem as sweet as a glass of horchata, but she was too closely involved with those who wanted to harness the creature in the jungle for their evil intent. And here she was kissing another guy only a day after “George” left. Ned briefly wondered if Luz weren’t really a secret agent, working for “them.”
“This is the best party ever, Johnny,” Luz told him, breaking him out of his reverie. “I’ll never forget it.”
Ned winked, clicked his tongue, snapped his fingers, and pointed at her, “No you won’t, darlin’. Savor it while you can.”
The next phase of Ned’s place was proving easy to implement. Everyone was so impressed with Johnny Disco and his generosity that they readily took the glowing red fruit he gave them. Alicia and Julissa were the first. While they doubled over, Vincente ate one, then Ned offered one to each of the group. Finally, Raul took the fruit. “I’m not too sure about this,” he told Ned skeptically. “I’ve never seen it before; is it safe to eat?”
“Perfectly harmless, dude,” Ned assured him. “You’ll have the experience of a lifetime, but the effects will fade away. Come on, you only live once!”
Raul thought for a moment, then took it, eyeing the shiny orb suspiciously.
“Now’s the time for me to make my exit,” Ned thought, leaving the bar’s patrons enjoying a night they would never forget–or perhaps one they’d never remember.