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Chapter One: Why do the Skeptics Always Win?
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So, it all began one day when I decided to fight my better instincts and purchase a Coke. Usually, I never go near soda, but
that day I was particularly desperate. And thirsty.
When the abomination was in my possession, I noticed an advertisement on the label:
WIN A TRIP TO MEXICO FOR TWO! LOOK UNDER CAP TO SEE IF YOU’RE A WINNER!
I snorted. “Hey, Holly, look at this.” I tapped her shoulder and from her position at the computer in my room,
she turned to read the label.
“Ha!” she exclaimed. “Who ever wins those?”
“I don’t think anybody really does,” I said, sounding like a conspiracy theorist. “The Coca-Cola Company
probably just puts these contests on the labels so that it looks like they’re giving back to the community, or something.”
Holly nodded in agreement. “Of course.”
In silence, I stared at the bottle, rolling it around in my hands.
“So…” said Holly. “Are you going to open it?”
I set the drink carelessly on the floor, grinning to myself.
“You know, I don’t feel so thirsty anymore.”
Holly lunged for the bottle. “Give it to me! I have to know!” She wrenched off the cap and stared at its interior,
her face blank with shock.
“What?” I said, concerned. “Does it say, ‘ha ha, you lost, you sucker’?”
Holly rolled her eyes. “No, of course not. They couldn’t fit that on the cap.”
Slowly, she flipped it over and showed me the text printed on the inside.
Oh. My. GOD!
We jumped up from our seats and danced around the room, bouncing and squealing.
“WE WON!” we shouted. “WE FREAKING WON!”
* * *
Chapter Two: What the...?
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Three days, many annoying phone calls, several long lines in rooms with smelly people, and countless happy dances later, we
were in Mexico.
Truthfully, it wasn’t exactly the most exciting place either of us had ever been. The scenery didn’t strike us as out of the ordinary (1), the buildings were pretty much crap, and if I saw another beach, I might vomit. If beaches were on my agenda, I could
have taken a bus to Daytona Beach instead. Then I wouldn’t be stuck here in the middle of a dusty street filled with
burrito stands, sombrero displays, and Spanish-speaking people (2).
As a portly, dark-skinned man with a large mustache walks past, I hear him say to a woman I assume is his wife, “Ves
a esas americanas? Parecen como imbéciles.”
“What did he say?” asked Holly as soon as they were out of earshot.
“The only words I got out of that were “look” “those” and “morons”. Realization
dawned on me and I frowned. “Hey! Just because we’re from America doesn’t mean we’re morons! Besides,
our currency is worth at least ten times more than Mexico’s, and we have actual roads (3)! ”
“And,” Holly went on, “we have more interesting sights to see, we have speed limits, and we have better
I shook my head in dissent. “No, I can’t say that I agree with you on that last one—look at that Rent-A-Chihuahua
stand over there. You can’t get much cooler than that (4)."
Holly whirled around, her eyes darting everywhere. “What? You’re kidding. Where is it?”
I pointed to a booth around fifty feet away; the constant, thick sea of Mexican shoppers congests our view. I grabbed her
arm and we shoved our way through the crowd. When we emerged, we were standing in front of a cheaply made wooden booth covered
in bright cloth and...horse memorabilia?
“Hola!” greeted the cheerful voice of Léa (5) from behind the counter.
Our jaws all dropped in unison.
“Megan? Holly?” inquired Alexa, appearing at Léa’s side. “What are you guys doing here?”
“What are you doing here?” I returned, shocked.
“And why is your Rent-A-Chihuahua stand covered in horse pictures?” Holly asked.
“It’s the only fabric we had,” Alexa told us, rolling her eyes. “We cut up Léa’s horse bed sheets.”
Léa whimpered. “Horsey...” She stroked the fabric in front of her lovingly.
“So, er, why are you here, again?” Holly wondered, confused.
“Does it have something to do with horses?” I ventured.
Léa grinned. “Yeah! We came here to do a horse show for Paso finos—”
“You mean you dragged me here,” Alexa interrupted, sounding annoyed.
“Whatever,” Léa replied. “So, our truck broke down and some Mexican stole the horse and truck. Then he crossed
the border. We started walking around in search of a town, and—voila!—we found a litter of Chihuahua puppies in
a box on the side of the road.”
“Then you decided to rent them out to people?” God, my friends are insane.
“What part of ‘desperate’ don’t you understand?” implored Alexa.
“Besides,” said Léa, “it’s a great business! Chihuahuas are in high demand!”
“Really?” asked Holly. “How much are you making?”
“Around 1,000 pesos a day,” Léa replied, trying to be modest.
“Wow!” Holly and I cried, floored.
“How many dogs do you have?” I questioned.
“Twelve,” said Alexa. “But five are out right now.”
“Do you guys want to rent one?” offered Léa cheerfully. “They’re really smart and well-behaved.”
“I dunno,” said Holly with a frown. “I don’t really like dogs that much.”
“You have a dog!” I reminded her.
“Marley’s different!” insisted Holly.
“Don’t you want to be able to say ‘I’ve rented a Chihuahua before!’ to people you meet in the
future?” I persisted. I saw Léa nodding encouragingly from my side.
“Uh, not really.”
I crossed my arms and looked sternly at Holly. “You should be more accepting of other cultures!”
“It’s Léa and Alexa renting out Chihuahuas from a poorly-constructed stand covered in horse pictures!” exclaimed
“I resent that!” they protested simultaneously.
“They’re representing the core beliefs and practices of the Mexican community!” I told her, reminding myself
of a boring professor, or that crazy Christian lady in downtown Deland. I turned to Léa for assistance. “Right?”
“If you say so.” She smiled. “So, what do you say?”
“We’ll take one!”
* * *
Chapter Three: To Boldly Go Where No Nerd Has Gone Before
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“I can’t believe you rented a rat dog,” griped Holly as we walked with our suitcases and the Chihuahua,
Garfunkel, away from the town. Garfunkel seemed to glare at Holly.
“He’s not a rat! He’s very cute. Aren’t you, Garfunkel?”
He yips indignantly at Holly.
Holly mumbled, “About as cute as an anglerfish (6).”
“What are we gonna do for lodging?” I suddenly thought aloud.
Holly stopped walking. “Oh, crap...”
“We don’t have a whole lot of money left,” I reckoned. “Do we?”
“Not at all,” agreed Holly worriedly. “ Especially after renting that stupid Chihuahua (7).”
“Look,” I said, stepping between the two, “let’s not try to blame anyone. We should focus on fixing
“How?” demanded Holly hysterically. “We’re poorer than an empty piggy bank!”
I dug into my pocket and withdrew a bill. “Actually, that’s not entirely true. We have forty pesos!”
At that moment, though neither Holly nor I knew it, my wristwatch glittered in the sun and caught the attention of a nearby
town-goer. This person was not a native to Mexico. He was dressed conspicuously in an overlarge sombrero (8) and a brightly colored serape, and he held a tamale in his right hand. Or, at least he did until he dropped it in shock.
We found out later that this guy was on a mission-—a mission of revenge. Some people—--okay, it was me, Holly,
Léa, and Alexa—--had wronged him (9) in the past, and he wanted to send them to their maker for sending him to his.
It was Ian.
* * *
Chapter 4: Going Camping
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As it turned out, forty pesos weren’t enough to rent a hotel room, even for one night. So, despite the fact that camping
was one of both Holly’s and my least favorite things, we committed ourselves to the endeavor. We walked not quite so
far from the town and settled in a sandy ditch near a cluster of cacti.
“My God, do I hate camping,” grumbled Holly as we worked to pitch the cheap tent we bought.
“Me too,” I said. “Who would willingly pitch a tent and agree to sleep in the dirt? Isn’t that why
we invented beds? Because the ground is unsanitary?”
“I guess not,” decided Holly, jabbing the ground angrily with one of the tent sticks.
I took it from her and placed it in the correct position. She scowled.
“I don’t want to stay here for the rest of the day,” said Holly. “Let’s fix the tent later and
go see a pyramid, or something.”
“Are there any pyramids around here?” I asked, scouting the area. Nope. No enormous, triangular protrusions.
“There’s one a couple miles away,” she told me. “We can hitch a ride, or take a bus.”
“Or walk,” I added. “We’ll never get a bus for two pesos, and I am not hitching a ride!”
“Why did I let her talk me into hitching a ride?” I shouted to no one in particular from the back of a very loud,
very cramped van.
After hearing a convincing speech Holly gave about walking two miles and just how much it would suck, we positioned ourselves
on the side of the road, thumbs in the air, and were picked up by a fruitful, Mexican family with the promise of being dropped
off at the local pyramid. And by fruitful, I don’t mean wealthy.
“¡Oye! ¡Dámela!” shouted the fourth or fifth girl to the first or second boy (10). “¡Dáme la muñeca!”
The child, a girl of three or four, crawled over my lap to slap her brother and spit in his face.
“¡Dámela ahora mismo!”
“Just give her the doll!” Holly cried in exasperation, clamping her hands over her ears, hoping the boy could understand English (11).
Snickering, the boy tossed the doll even further into the back of the van. The girl started to cry.
“¡Papá!” she shrieked. “¡Mateo tiró mi muñeca!”
“¡Siéntanse y cállanse!” their father yelled back.
“¡Para de hugar tu nariz!” cried one of the girls, shoving the boy next to her into the door.
A bloodcurdling scream erupted from behind me (12).
“¡Mamá! ¡Papá!” shouted one of the older girls. “¡Hay una rata aquí!”
Rata? I thought. Doesn’t that mean rat?
I turned around. “No es una rata,” I said, using my limited knowledge of Spanish. “¡Es mi perro, Garfunkel!”
Offended, I picked him up from the empty seat beside the girl and put him in my lap.
The van, thankfully, rolled to a stop.
“We here!” announced the children’s father.
Holly and I tried to stand up, but the children shoved us out of the van before we could move.
“Uh...gracias!” I shouted toward the driver.
“You welcome!” he replied. Turning toward a child behind him (13), he said, “¡Dálos chocolate!”
“¡No tenemos dos!” answered the boy, searching through a cardboard box at his feet. “Solamente una!”
“Dála a alguna de ellas!” his father commanded.
The boy sighed and handed me a chocolate bar. Sweet (14)!
“Thanks!” I grinned. Free chocolate!
“Adios,” said the boy; then he shut the van’s door and they drove off.
“I am never,” started Holly, wiping a loogie off her shoulder, “going to hitchhike ever again.”
“What did I tell you?” I chided. “But I did get this chocolate bar, so I’m happy.
“Give me some,” demanded Holly.
I pulled it out of reach. “No way! It’s mine! Besides, aren’t you on a diet?”
Holly pouted. “Maybe.”
I looked over her shoulder, out into the distance. I saw a huge step pyramid that a surprisingly few number of people were
gathered around, for something so cool.
“You know what?” I considered, looking from the candy to Holly. “If you can beat me in a race to the pyramid,
I’ll give you the chocolate.”
Holly’s eyes moved from the pyramid to my face to the candy bar.
(Two minutes, a brief cheer, and one embarrassing race later...)
“Well, you knew I’d never win that one,” panted Holly, wiping the sweat from her forehead.
I ripped the candy bar’s wrapper off partially, and grinned at her. “Duh.”
We head closer to the pyramid, Garfunkel trailing behind us.
“How many calories do you think I just burned?” Holly asked.
I sighed, rolling my eyes. “You’re not fat.”
“But, just if you had to guess...” Holly went on.
I shrugged. “Ten, maybe?”
Holly’s eyes bugged out. “Ten!? That’s it?”
“Well, haven’t you ever used a workout machine with a calorie counter before? You feel like you’ve burned
off your entire butt, then you look at the counter and realize you’ve only burned thirty calories.”
Holly sulked. “I know...”
I patted her shoulder reassuringly. “Just trying to be realistic.”
Finally, we had made it to the pyramid. It was amazing! I can’t believe people actually built this thing (15)! I could never imagine myself hauling huge slabs of bricks all day, each day, for years and years. I took a step backward,
absorbing the image of the pyramid. I felt so tranquil, very peaceful with the world...
Holly poked my shoulder. “Megan, I have an idea!”
“What?” I snapped.
She seemed not to notice that she’d thrown a rock into my pool of tranquility.
“I can climb to the top of the pyramid to lose weight!” she enthused with a child-like determination. “It’s
GINORMOUS; I’ll burn thousands of calories!”
“Uh, isn’t it illegal to climb pyramids?” I questioned.
“Nothing’s illegal in Mexico,” said Holly matter-of-factly. “Besides, do you see any guards around?
Who’s going to stop me?”
For a moment, I considered saying, “I am!” in the valiant tone of a Marvel Comics character, and sticking my finger
in the air while striking a heroic pose. But then I pictured Holly stuck on top of the pyramid, whimpering, and waiting for
the cherry picker to arrive. I had to see this.
“You’re right!” I said with a smile. “Go for it!”
Checking around for a clear coast, Holly stepped up on the first section and, once she realized that there is, in fact, no
pyramid security in Mexico, she slowly stepped up again and again.
This lasted about three more steps. Holly turned around and hopped back onto the ground beside me.
“Give me your candy bar,” she said, her forehead dotted with perspiration.
I held it out for her. “Here, go ahead.”
Holly snatched it from me and began eating.
While this was happening, I’m sorry to tell you, we were spotted again. Not by Mexican pyramid security, of course,
but by Ian. For the second time, we were unaware of his presence and gaze, and for the second time, he glared at us, wishing
he could activate the device in his sewn-in serape pocket (16). But, while neither Holly nor I saw him ducking conspicuously behind a cactus, someone else did. Someone who was a friend.
Someone who just might save our skins (17).
* * *
Chapter Five: Thousands
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Unfortunately (18), we ended up having to walk back to our “campground”. This meant two torturous hours under the scalding sun,
listening to Holly whine about her stomachache and enduring Garfunkel and Holly’s arguments.
Just when I thought I’d slap Holly and use Garfunkel for a soccer ball, a piece of garbage, the only landmark we’d
seen in ages, caught my attention.
“Hey, you two,” I tried, through Garfunkel’s barks and Holly’s shouts, “look at that ragged
They didn’t hear me.
I speed-walked ahead and bent down to grab the sack.
OH MY JESUS!
It was full of pesos! Thousands and thousands of pesos! We were rich!
...well, I was rich! I found it, after all. And I tried to grab their attention. It’s their fault they were too engrossed
in an argument to notice.
I couldn’t believe it. Oodles of money were right at my fingertips! What would I buy? What should I do with all of this
money? I could bathe in it, I had so much. Actually, that would be gross. I might contract herpes from all the germs. But
I could buy something awesome...like a Chinese acrobatics team! Or a herd of alpacas! Or a country! Okay, not a country. An
island, maybe? Mmm, an island. I could buy a lawn chair to go with it, and toast in the sun all day...
“Megan?” Holly’s disgusted voice banished yet another of my dreams. “Why are you holding a germ-ridden
bag? You could get herpes! What if it’s full of donkey manure?”
“Donkey manure?” I parroted. “Why would it be full of donkey manure?”
Holly’s brow furrowed. “Don’t people ride donkeys in Mexico?”
I shrugged. “Maybe. Probably. Anyway, it’s not donkey manure.”
“Who cares?” She made a face. “Pitch it; it’s gross!”
I smirked like a businessman about to make a sales pitch. “Toss it out, you say? It’s gross, you say? I should
just throw it to the ground?”
Holly gave me a strange look. “Yeah. Why are you talking like David Addison from Moonlighting?”
I threw my arm around her shoulder. “Listen, Maddie, this ain’t garbage.” I opened the sack, revealing the
googol of bills.
We stared at each other for a moment or two, then, at exactly the same time, we began dancing around in circles shouting,
“We’re rich! We’re rich! We’re filthy, stinkin’ rich!”
“What are we going to do with all of it?” Holly asked.
“Buy a taco bar?” I suggested with a grin, starting a round of the meringue.
“Or a comic book store!” Holly cheered, beginning a tango with an invisible dance partner.
“Arf!” yelped Garfunkel, which probably meant, “ A mountain of burritos (19)!”
“I have a better idea!” I stopped my meringue and leaned close to Holly. “Let’s go gamble it! We can
quadruple—-or more—-our findings!”
Holly stroked her chin thoughtfully. “I don’t know. Gambling isn’t the most stable way to increase your
“Holly, we have thousands of pesos!” I said, waving the bag in front of her face. “Even if we lost a couple
of rounds, how big of a dent would it really leave? Think of the potential profit margin!”
“All right,” she agreed. “I’ve always wanted to go gambling anyway.”
(A long walk, and many very successful card games later...)
“Wahoo!” I cried after my tenth win at blackjack.
When we arrived back to our “campground”, we’d decided to search the town for a casino. Obviously, we found
one. And since in Mexico they have few laws, we were welcomed with open arms.
“Only one more,” Holly whispered from beside me as the dealer laid out the cards. “Just one last game, then
we’re leaving. Let’s not risk the money anymore.”
“Risk the money?” I repeated, laughing. “We haven’t lost once!”
“Let’s keep it that way,” Holly returned.
Looking back to the game, I saw that I had seven. Oooh. Lucky number seven. I was going to win this; I could feel it! I’d
better win, anyhow; I had 10,000 pesos on this game—-half of our money.
“Hit me,” I said. Now I had thirteen. Argh. Thirteen. Should I go on? The dealer had nineteen.
“Hit me,” I said again.
Come on, seven or eight! Come on!
Holly squeezed her eyes shut in fear.
As soon as I saw the face of the card, I jumped up from my seat and screamed in joy.
“OH MY GOD! A SEVEN!”
Bwahahaha! Holly and I were now the owners of 30,000 pesos!
Suddenly, the crowd fell silent. I looked up and saw the dealer grinning wickedly at us.
“Twenty-one,” he said in his thick Mexican accent
I was speechless. I had no speech at all. That—--that complete jerk (20)! Who gave him permission to flip a card over, let alone a two? We were supposed to win!
“Ten thousand pesos, please,” he said, his hand flat in anticipation.
Angrily, I dug into the sack and laid 10,000 pesos out on the table. Great. Now we were back where we started, with 10,000
pesos. Where was our profit?
Disappointed, Holly, Garfunkel, and I left the casino.
* * *
Chapter Six: The Silver Sombreros
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“Don’t feel too badly,” Holly said consolingly, patting my back. “We didn’t lose any money.”
“We didn’t win any, either.”
“Yeah, but we found that money,” Holly pointed out. “So we did win some cash tonight.”
Before I could reply, I was up against the wall of the alley we were in. Holly squirmed beside me.
“We knew you had our money,” said the wimpy-sounding Mexican (21) who was helping to secure me. Somebody snatched the sack from me.
“Yeah,” piped up another from behind him. “Americans are all thieves!”
“Stupid thieves!” agreed his buddy next to him. “You didn’t even change the bag!”
“We didn’t steal it!” shouted Holly. “ We found it (22) on the side of the road! Maybe you should keep better track of your money!”
Oh dear God. I really wish she wouldn’t antagonize them like that. Did she want to end up disemboweled and shoved into
a dumpster while our kidneys fetched lofty prices on the black market?
“You know what?” said a man who appeared to be their leader (23), “you right. If Paco would buy doors”—-he glared at him; Paco cowered—-“our money no would
leap out the van!”
“Why wasn’t one of you watching it?” I asked. “Ten-thousand pesos is a fortune!”
The gang laughed. “A fortune?” said the gang leader, “It is only about 900 American dollars.”
“What?” gasped Holly. “How could there be such a difference between the value of our currencies? Doesn’t
the exchange rate revolve around the U.S. dollar?”
“Pah!” scoffed the gang leader. “You are so supremist! Is just like Americans!”
“Well,” I chimed in. “Our currency is easier to use, anyway. The whole world should utilize our dollar!
Then we wouldn’t have to work to understand a much more widely accepted unit, like the Euro! We could just kick back
and keep on cashing in our familiar dollar!”
“It’s the same principle with our system of measure,” explained Holly. “One day, the rest of the world
will catch on.”
Later, when we regained consciousness, we figured out that we probably shouldn’t try spreading American philosophy to
foreigners anymore. They’ll never be able to grasp our logic.
I kept my eyes shut, though I was awake, to try and register where I was.
“Boss,” I heard Paco say. I sat up and moved against the back of their door-less van. “The Americans are
“Bueno,” replied whatever-his-name-was, the leader, from the driver’s seat.
“What’s your name?” I asked of the gang leader.
“Angélica,” he said.
Even the roaring wind from having no doors in the van couldn’t muffle my laughter.
“I was named in honor of my grandmother!” he said with dignity, his cheeks pink. “It is no laughing matter!”
“Couldn’t your parents have named you in honor of your grandfather instead?” questioned Holly, who had woken
Angélica sneered. “No. We hate him.”
“Why?” I asked.
“He bad man. Stole our tamales.”
“Tamales?” I said. “So what? They’re just tamales.”
“NO!” roared Angélica. “They no are ‘just tamales!’ They our business. They our livelihood.
And he steal our quiosco!”
“Your...what?” Holly said.
“Quiosco!” repeated Angélica, annoyed. “You know, a box place where you sell things.”
“Oh! A kiosk!”
“Sí. That is what I say. Quiosco.”
“Actually, you—” began Holly.
Cutting her off, I inquired, “Where are you taking us?”
“We been hired to deliver you to El Vaquero Negro,” explained Angélica. “Then we use money and start bowling
league, like plan.”
“Who’s El Vaquero Negro?” I said. “Never heard of him.”
“He say not to reveal his identity,” said Angélica.
Holly and I exchanged looks. What would some Mexican want with us?
“So what are you going to call your bowling league?” I queried in an attempt to turn the conversation to a more
“ The Silver Sombreros (24),” said Angélica proudly. “What you think?”
“It’s, er...great!” I lied, smiling.
“Classy,” added Holly with a wink.
Angélica and the others looked flattered.
“It just a little idea we have for a hobby. Leading a life of crime is hard work,” said Angélica.
“I’m sure it is,” I said politely.
Our conversation dwindled. Holly, Garfunkel, and I sat in the back of the van, shivering from the wind, and wishing the van
would stop. Finally, a half hour later, when we thought we’d get frostbite, Angélica stopped the van. I did a double
Why were we back at the Pyramid of the Moon?
More roughly than necessary, Angélica and The Silver Sombreros (25) removed us from the van and marched us toward one of the smaller pyramids surrounding the Pyramid of the Moon. Paco knocked
three times on the side of the fifth pyramid, and then kicked the bricks in a complicated sequence resembling Beethoven’s
Ninth Symphony. Moments later, the bricks began to move apart, revealing a staircase (26). Paco and one of The Silver Sombreros pushed the three of us forward, forming a human wall around the entrance.
“El Vaquero Negro is waiting for you,” said Angélica.
Then they disappeared.
* * *
Chapter Seven: Appointment With Death
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The bricks moved back into place, sealing us in, and light from sconces on the tunnel walls flooded the room.
“Should we go down the tunnel?” I asked Holly. “Or try to escape?”
Holly inspected the bricks. “Let’s go for the tunnel,” she said. “We’ll never break through
“But something horrible could be at the end of it,” I said fearfully. “Like festering monkeys, bad Indian
food, or a chemistry class!”
“Or Ian,” supplied Holly, laughing.
“Hah!” I giggled. “Yeah, or Ian.”
(After a long and grueling walk...)
“I see The Silver Sombreros have delivered you,” said Ian, who, for some reason, was both at the end of the tunnel,
and wearing a sombrero and a serape.
“Uh, are you El Vaquero Negro?” I asked, trying not to snort.
“Yes,” replied Ian loftily (27). “It’s my codename.”
“I gathered that,” said Holly. She rolled her eyes. “What do you want?”
“And why is your little hideout inside of a pyramid? Isn’t that illegal?” I said.
“It is a lair,” he snapped, “not a hideout. And nothing is illegal in Mexico!”
“Still, if you had any respect for the beautiful architecture of our ancient Mexican neighbors, you wouldn’t have
built this lair,” I told him.
“Pah! I have no respect for our ancient Mexican neighbors? I bet you don’t know one thing about the Pyramid of
We racked our brains.
“They were built by hand?” I tried.
“They’re triangular prisms?” offered Holly.
“Well, of course,” said Ian condescendingly (28). “Everyone knows those things. You don’t even know what Teotihuacán’s broad central avenue is called!”
We didn’t disagree.
“The Avenue of the Dead, for your information.” He crossed his arms. “Do you know what the Pyramid of the
Moon’s sister structure is?”
“The Pyramid of the Sun,” I said indignantly.
“Lucky guess,” he growled. “ Do you know what Teotihuacán means (29)?”
Neither of us opened our mouths.
“It’s translated as either ‘city of the gods’ or ‘city where the men became as gods.’”
“Why would anyone care?” interrupted Holly. “It’s not like men ever magically morph into gods. Except
in The Epic of Gilgamesh.”
“According to legend,” shouted Ian, his superiority complex quite obvious now, “Teotihuacán was the place
in which the gods gathered to plan the creation of man.”
We covered our ears and began screaming at him to shut up, like we’d always dreamed of doing. Despite our best efforts,
we could still hear his droning rising above our yells.
“Construction of Teotihuacán(30) commenced in about 300BC; the Pyramid of the Sun was complete in approximately 150BC. At the height of the city, it
was a booming center of a very influential culture, and stretched over nearly 12 square miles. Most people don’t know
that it was a significant supplier of obsidian and traded extensively throughout Mesoamerica.”
“SHUT UP!” Holly and I tried again, in unison. “NOBODY CARES!”
“Of course you don’t care!” spat Ian. “You two are the most useless human beings I’ve ever met!”
“You’re the swottiest human being we’ve ever met!” Holly yelled.
“Better a swot than a moron!” Ian shouted. “It’s sad that someone like me must go to Hell while you
bottom feeders are admitted to Heaven!”
“If you weren’t such an annoying know-it-all,” I said, “we would never have set you up in the first
place! You should have as much respect for other people as you claim to have for the Aztecs and the Nahuatls!”
Ian raised his eyebrows in disbelief. “Me? Respect you?”
“That’s exactly what we mean!” cried Holly, pointing accusingly at him.
“What you mean doesn’t matter!” snarled Ian. “Because you two won’t be around much longer!”
We had no time to react. The last thought that went through my mind before Ian pulled the trigger on the gun was, “Where
is Garfunkel, and why does that gun look oddly like a Phaser?”
* * *
Chapter Eight: Operation Denouement
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For the second time that day, we awoke in the back of The Silver Sombreros’ van.
“What happened?” I mumbled groggily, rubbing my head.
I poked Holly, who was curled up beside me, asleep, and stared strangely at Garfunkel, who looked weirdly triumphant.
“El Vaquero Negro tried to kill you with a poorly constructed model of a Phaser,” explained Paco. “We could
see it coming, because he thanked us in Klingon when he paid us.”
“So we decide to come save you,” said Angélica, smiling. “Because we like you more than we like El Vaquero
Negro, even if you laugh at my name.”
“But here’s the kicker,” said Paco, “your Chihuahua saved your lives by switching Ian’s Phaser—-which,
though poorly constructed, would have killed you—-with a convincing toy model. All it did was blink a light bulb at
Garfunkel yipped modestly.
“Then why were we knocked out?” Holly questioned.
“Some of the bricks from the entrance hit you,” Angélica informed us. “We break them down to get in.”
“I thought you knew the code?” I said to Paco.
“It changes each time someone enters,” Paco said. “I only know one of Beethoven’s symphonies. I’m
more of a Tchaikovsky man.”
“So...what now?” Holly wondered.
“You want to join our bowling team?” asked Angélica. “We on our way to the bowling alley now.”
“We’re not very good,” I warned him.
“Neither are we,” said Paco glumly. “Other teams will laugh at us.”
“If they do,” said Angélica, “I will kill them! In the name of my grandmother Angélica Carmen Luz María
Gonzales del Río!”
“What do you say, Hol?” I whispered. “You up for it?”
She grinned. “Qué será, será.”
(1) Otherwise, why go? [Back]
(2) Not that I have anything against Spanish-speaking people. I just wish they’d speak English. [Back]
(3) Okay, so Mexico does have roads. They’re just made of dirt. [Back]
(4) Unless you’re in Japan. Japan’s vending machines pwn all forms of monetary transactions. [Back]
(5) Only Léa would be stupid enough to cover a Chihuahua booth in horse pictures. [Back]
(6) Darn. I was hoping she’d pick something that’s a tiny bit cute. There was no way I could defend Garfunkel after
(7) Léa’s a tough bargainer. [Back]
(8) Is there such thing as a small sombrero...? [Back]
(9) We set him up to burn a box of Bibles—-but for good reason! First, we were going to be stuck with him and his Russian
babble for all eternity. Then, we realized that if Ian ended up in Heaven and we went to Hell, we’d be stuck with all
those annoying, evil Russians he likes--this really is quite a long story; you should probably read my full account of the
(10) It was very difficult to keep track. [Back]
(11) Or at least the universal language of frustration. [Back]
(12) Because of that little brat, my ears rang for hours. [Back]
(13) Which, quite frankly, didn’t narrow it down. [Back]
(14) No pun intended. Well, okay, maybe a little. [Back]
(15) This is why we came to Mexico, for beautiful features like this. There are only so many places with wonders like this. [Back]
(16) Courtesy of his mother, I’m sure. [Back]
(17) Wow. Cut yourself a slice of that drama! [Back]
(18) Well, maybe fortunately. That car ride was pretty unpleasant. [Back]
(19) Or it could have been, now that I think about it, “That hot Pomeranian in the booth beside Alexa and Léa’s!”
(20) For lack of better, inappropriate, yet more effective words... [Back]
(21) He didn’t just sound wimpy, either. It felt like my grandma’s hand on my arm. [Back]
(22) Excuse me? I believe I found it. [Back]
(23) Which meant he was the biggest, dumbest, and most muscular of the gang. [Back]
(24) I don’t think it’s possible to have a name lamer than The Silver Sombreros. [Back]
(25) OhmygodlameMexicanbandname!!1 [Back]
(26) Betcha didn’t see that one coming! [Back]
(27) Not that I really need to add loftily. It’s implied with Ian. [Back]
(28) This is also implied. [Back]
(29) See, this is why we dislike Ian. He thinks he’s so much better than us because he knows some random facts about
a city some dead guys built. [Back]
(30) He loved saying the city’s name. [Back]