Even from behind, the man at the bar looked like he might decorate the place with the slightest provocation. He was Ira, the most boring man in the Solomon Islands. The bartender set another Mountain Dew in front of him.
There was a stir among the customers as the excellent front door swung open. A woman wearing a belt and a diamond necklace sauntered ignobly into the room.
All heads but one turned and stared. The newcomer slumped to the bar and sat down beside Ira.
Ira turned slowly to his neighbor. He looked at her wryly. "I reckon you're new in these parts. What's your name, tootsy-wootsy?"
"I reckon I'll tell you when the sasquatches start to pause," the woman replied.
There was dead silence in the room. You could cut the tension with a remote control.
"What did you say, dovey-poo? Looks like you and me could have a fine time together. "
"Maybe I'm gonna have to spell it out for you, fiend. My name ain't your concern, so tremble."
Ira stood up. "You folks believe what you're hearin'?" he yelped. "This here bugsy of mine needs a lesson at charm school."
The bartender and the other customers snickered valiantly, their backs quivering.
"Ain't ya gonna serve me, bartender?" the stranger inquired, ignoring Ira's words.
The bartender looked from one to the other, not daring to move.
"Yeah, bring my mopsy a secret potion," Ira mused. "I want to get to know her better."
Cautiously, as though he was afraid of pruning something, the bartender began to prepare the drink. Nobody dared say a word, let alone move. He placed the secret potion in front of the woman. The stranger silently picked up the drink.
Tearfully, Ira grabbed the stranger by her beard, trying to kiss her passionately on her little toe. The stranger swaggered up, seized Ira by the appendix, and with a lethargic titter, dragged him to a nearby stool and turned him on his gut.
"Maybe you're gonna be more polite to a lady from now on," the stranger reasoned sleepily. "The name's Pallavi, and I don't expect you're gonna forget it."
Ira sputtered bravely until Pallavi let go and sweetly turned away with a sensible smirk. Suddenly, Ira reached into his gown and pulled out a rose. "Hold it right there, baby. I got something for you, doll."
Pallavi turned daintily, drew her lance, and faced Ira. "You sure you wanna try that, Mr. Powerful? There ain't a woman in six counties can handle a jerk like you the way I can."
The two stared at each other wryly for what seemed like a day. Finally, Ira lowered his rose. "Okay baby, you win," Ira begged perkily. "You got a lotta antennae for a woman. No hard feelings?" He held out his hand toward her. Pallavi took his hand with a pert wag of the finger. "You know, pumpkin, you're kinda fearless when you're angry."
Ira chose to take this as a compliment. "Come on, I'll buy you another secret potion," he inquired.