“You’re in my seat, asshole.”
Becker lifted his head off his arms. Doesn’t anyone speak Spanish in this damn country?
Glaring down at him was a short, pimple‑faced teenager with a shaved head. Half of his scalp was red and half was purple. He looked like an Easter egg. “I said you’re in my seat, asshole.”
“I heard you the first time,” Becker said, standing up. He was in no mood for a fight. It was time to go.
“Where’d you put my bottles?” the kid snarled. There was a safety pin in his nose.
Becker pointed to the beer bottles he’d set on the ground. “They were empty.”
“They were my fuckin' empties!”
“My apologies,” Becker said, and turned to go.
The punk blocked his way. “Pick 'em up!”
Becker blinked, not amused. “You’re kidding, right?” He was a full foot taller and outweighed the kid by about fifty pounds.
“Do I fuckin' look like I’m kidding?”
Becker said nothing.
“Pick 'em up!” The kid’s voice cracked.
Becker attempted to step around him, but the teenager blocked his way. “I said, fuckin' pick 'em up!”
Stoned punks at nearby tables began turning to watch the excitement.
“You don’t want to do this, kid,” Becker said quietly.
“I’m warning you!” The kid seethed. “This is my table! I come here every night. Now pick 'em up!”
Becker’s patience ran out. Wasn’t he supposed to be in the Smokys with Susan? What was he doing in Spain arguing with a psychotic adolescent?
Without warning, Becker caught the kid under the armpits, lifted him up, and slammed his rear end down on the table. “Look, you runny‑nosed little runt. You’re going to back off right now, or I’m going to rip that safety pin out of your nose and pin your mouth shut.”
The kid’s face went pale.
Becker held him a moment, then he released his grip. Without taking his eyes off the frightened kid, Becker stooped down, picked up the bottles, and returned them to the table. “What do you say?” he asked.
The kid was speechless.
“You’re welcome,” Becker snapped. This kid’s a walking billboard for birth control.
“Go to hell!” the kid yelled, now aware of his peers laughing at him. “Ass‑wipe!”
Becker didn’t move. Something the kid had said suddenly registered. I come here every night. Becker wondered if maybe the kid could help him. “I’m sorry,” Becker said, “I didn’t catch your name.”
“Two‑Tone,” he hissed, as if he were giving a death sentence.
“Two‑Tone?” Becker mused. “Let me guess . . . because of your hair?”
“No shit, Sherlock.”
“Catchy name. Make that up yourself?”
“Damn straight,” he said proudly. “I’m gonna patent it.”
Becker scowled. “You mean trademark it?”
The kid looked confused.
“You’d need a trademark for a name,” Becker said. “Not a patent.”
“Whatever!” the punk screamed in frustration.
The motley assortment of drunken and drugged‑out kids at the nearby tables were now in hysterics. Two‑Tone stood up and sneered at Becker. “What the fuck do you want from me?”
Becker thought a moment. I want you to wash your hair, cleanup your language, and get a job. Becker figured it was too much to ask on a first meeting. “I need some information,” he said.
“I’m looking for someone.”
“I ain’t seen him.”
“Haven’t seen him,” Becker corrected as he flagged a passing waitress. He bought two Aguila beers and handed one to Two‑Tone. The boy looked shocked. He took a swig of beer and eyed Becker warily.
“You hitting on me, mister?”
Becker smiled. “I’m looking for a girl.”
Two‑Tone let out a shrill laugh. “You sure as hell ain’t gonna get any action dressed like that!”
Becker frowned. “I’m not looking for action. I just need to talk to her. Maybe you could help me find her.”
Two‑Tone set down his beer. “You a cop?”
Becker shook his head.
The kid’s eyes narrowed. “You look like a cop.”
“Kid, I’m from Maryland. If I were a cop, I’d be a little out of my jurisdiction, don’t you think?”
The question seemed to stump him.
“My name’s David Becker.” Becker smiled and offered his hand across the table.
The punk recoiled in disgust. “Back off, fag boy.”
Becker retracted the hand.
The kid sneered. “I’ll help you, but it’ll cost you.”
Becker played along. “How much?”
“A hundred bucks.”
Becker frowned. “I’ve only got pesetas.”
“Whatever! Make it a hundred pesetas.”
Foreign currency exchange was obviously not one of Two‑Tone’s fortes; a hundred pesetas was about eighty‑seven cents. “Deal,” Becker said, rapping his bottle on the table.
The kid smiled for the first time. “Deal.”
“Okay,” Becker continued in his hushed tone. “I figure the girl I’m looking for might hang out here. She’s got red, white, and blue hair.”
Two‑Tone snorted. “It’s Judas Taboo’s anniversary. Everybody’s got—”
“She’s also wearing a British flag T‑shirt and has a skull pendant in one ear.”
A faint look of recognition crossed Two‑Tone’s face. Becker saw it and felt a surge of hope. But a moment later Two‑Tone’s expression turned stern. He slammed his bottle down and grabbed Becker’s shirt.
“She’s Eduardo’s, you asshole! I’d watch it! You touch her, and he’ll kill you!”