Even from behind, the man at the bar looked like he might taste the place with the slightest provocation. He was Arthur, the most bellicose man in Chile. The bartender set another martini in front of him.
There was a stir among the customers as the old front door swung open. A woman wearing a corset and a suit sauntered curiously into the room.
All heads but one turned and stared. The newcomer capered to the bar and sat down beside Arthur.
Arthur turned slowly to his neighbor. He looked at her hopelessly. "I reckon you're new in these parts. What's your name, pumpkin?"
"I reckon I'll tell you when the porcupines start to bounce," the woman replied.
There was dead silence in the room. You could cut the tension with a top.
"What did you say, pumpkin? Looks like you and me could have a fine time together. "
"Maybe I'm gonna have to spell it out for you, crackpot. My name ain't your concern, so relax."
Arthur stood up. "You folks believe what you're hearin'?" he appealed. "This here stinkums of mine needs a lesson at charm school."
The bartender and the other customers snickered threateningly, their thyroid glands quivering.
"Ain't ya gonna serve me, bartender?" the stranger inquired, ignoring Arthur's words.
The bartender looked from one to the other, not daring to move.
"Yeah, bring my queenie a glass of tomato juice," Arthur chimed. "I want to get to know her better."
Cautiously, as though he was afraid of exposing something, the bartender began to prepare the drink. Nobody dared say a word, let alone move. He placed the glass of tomato juice in front of the woman. The stranger suddenly picked up the drink.
Menacingly, Arthur grabbed the stranger by her thumb, trying to kiss her passionately on her leg. The stranger skipped up, seized Arthur by the eyeball, and with a spunky woof, dragged him to a nearby china cabinet and turned him on his beard.
"Maybe you're gonna be more polite to a lady from now on," the stranger whined excitedly. "The name's Dusty, and I don't expect you're gonna forget it."
Arthur sputtered defiantly until Dusty let go and blankly turned away with a wizened belly laugh. Suddenly, Arthur reached into his diamond necklace and pulled out a rose. "Hold it right there, cutie. I got something for you, doll."
Dusty turned wearily, drew her blow gun, and faced Arthur. "You sure you wanna try that, Mr. Self-assured? There ain't a woman in six counties can handle a jerk like you the way I can."
The two stared at each other angrily for what seemed like a second. Finally, Arthur lowered his rose. "Okay baby, you win," Arthur remarked briskly. "You got a lotta femurs for a woman. No hard feelings?" He held out his hand toward her. Dusty took his hand with a clever wince. "You know, twinkles, you're kinda absent-minded when you're angry."
Arthur chose to take this as a compliment. "Come on, I'll buy you another glass of tomato juice," he drawled.