“Well?” Bob asked.
“Oh my goodness,” Woodruff mumbled with a mouthful of food.
Woodruff picked up a napkin and wiped his mouth.
“Do we need to keep looking?” Bob asked
“Nope, these are them.”
Bob did a little dance in his chair and Woodruff pulled a crumpled piece of paper, and a Maximum Red crayon, from his pocket. He crossed off the next item on the list that read Eat the World’s Best Taco.
“I told you I’d find them for you.”
“How did you find this place?”
“Remember how I told you my uncle lived down in Belize?” Bob began. “And my mom used to bring me down here in the summers to visit?”
“Yeah,” Woodruff said as he leaned forward eagerly.
“Well, when we were in Des Moines, last week, I saw a flyer in the window of a Mexican restaurant that said Best Tacos in Iowa,” Bob continued.
“Yeah,” Woodruff repeated with a raised eyebrow.
“Well, it was written in Spanish.”
“Yeah?” Woodruff wore a puzzled look on his face.
“And Spanish in the second most common language in Belize,” Bob said. “And I thought that if a place in Des Moines could have the best tacos in Iowa, then a mostly Spanish speaking country had a way better chance of having the best tacos in the world.”
“We flew all the way to Belize because you saw a flyer in Des Moines?”
“A flyer in Spanish.”
Bob nodded and Woodruff shook his head. Two masked men burst through the front door of the spacious restaurant and fired their guns toward the ceiling.
“Get dung on di ground!” the large man in the black ski mask shouted.
Woodruff and Bob fell from their chairs, like a couple of bowling pins, and joined the other patrons on the floor.
“Oh no,” Bob said. “It’s a hold up.”
“A hold up?” Woodruff asked. “At a taco shop?”
“In Belize, tacos are a form of currency.”
“Have I ever joked about tacos?”
“Yu two, shut it!” the second man in the red ski mask ordered and waved his gun at them.
“You should be careful where you point that,” Woodruff said. “Statistics show that thirty-six percent of gun fatalities are accidental.”
“If ya don’t shut your mouth, it won’t be an accident, ya overstand?” Red Ski Mask said.
“My friend is just trying to keep you from a lifetime of being haunted,” Bob said.
“You mean haunted by regret, right?” Woodruff asked.
“No,” Bob said. “If he shoots me, I’m going to haunt him.”
“That’s your go-to move,” Woodruff said. “Just haunt anyone semi-responsible for your death.”
“Is there another move at that point?”
“You could Christmas Carol him.”
“Sing to him?”
“No, get three spirits to scare him into changing his ways before it’s too late.”
“Oh, you mean Scrooge him.”
“But where would I find a crippled boy with a heart of gold.”
“My cousin walks with a limp.”
“Dat’s it,” Black Ski Mask interrupted. “One more word an’ mi ago shoot yu in da face.”
“That’s kind of harsh,” Woodruff said. “I mean a shot in the leg or the foot would send the proper message. The face seems a little overkill. Pardon the pun.”
“Stop uno noise na man!”
The man in the red ski mask jerked Woodruff to his feet and stuck the gun to his forehead.
“I don’t think he pardoned your pun, Woodruff,” Bob said.
“Should have used pun control,” Woodruff grinned down at Bob, with the barrel of the gun still pointed at his head. “Get it.”
“Good one,” Bob said. “Very punny.”
“Mi ago kill yu,” Black Ski Mask said, as he pulled Bob to his feet and shoved the gun in his face.
“Puns don’t kill people,” Woodruff said. “People kill people.”
“You’re on fire,” Bob said.
“The smoking pun,” Woodruff quipped.
“Enough,” Black Ski Mask said. “Yu two idiots are go’n fi get dead.”
“Woah, pun violence,” Bob said.
“Are yu loco?” Red Ski Mask asked.
Woodruff and Bob giggled.
“Sorry,” Woodruff said. “We’re just having a little pun.”
“Okay Woodruff,” Bob said. “I think they’ve had enough. Put the puns down.”
“All right, we’ll be quiet,” Woodruff said. “As you were. Rob the money, or tacos, or taco money.”
“How ‘bout wi tek your money,” Black Ski Mask said.
“Sure thing amigo, the name’s Bob. And this here is Woodruff.”
The men in the ski masks looked at each other and back at their hostages.
“And you are?” Bob asked.
“Yu don’t need fi know who wi are,” Black Ski Mask said.
“Well I’m not going to give a friend money if I don’t even know his name,” Bob said.
“We’re not friend,” Black Ski Mask said.
“Then I’m not giving you any money,” Bob said as he folded his arms.
A short man with a bushy black mustache walked out of the back room with a plate full of tacos and nervously placed it on the counter near the men in the ski masks.
“Jose, do you know these guys?” Woodruff asked.
“No,” Jose replied and looked down at the ground, as he stepped away from the taco plate.
“Then why are you just giving them your delicious tacos?” Bob asked.
“Shut your face!” Red Ski Mask shouted.
“That’s physically impossible,” Woodruff said. “He could shut his mouth, or his eyes. If he used his fingers he could even shut his nose, but not his whole face. Who’s the idiot now?”
“Just let them take the tacos and they’ll go,” Jose said.
“When they didn’t even say please?” Bob said. “No way, Jose.”
The man in the black ski mask reached for the taco plate and Bob slapped his hand away.
“Uh uh,” Bob warned. “Somebody needs to teach you some manners.”
“An’ who’s go’n fi teach us, yu two?”
“If we must,” Woodruff said.
The men in the ski masks lowered their guns and began to laugh.
“An’ how’re yu go’n fi do dat?” Red Ski Mask asked. “Your unarmed.”
“We could take you down with our bare hands,” Bob said.
The robbers looked at each other and back to Woodruff and Bob. The man in the red ski mask tossed his gun on the table, followed by the man in the black ski mask.
“Teach me, now,” Black Ski Mask said.
“You asked for it,” Woodruff replied and winked at Bob.
“Hands!” Bob shouted toward the open front door.
A massive brown bear sidled into the restaurant on all fours and unleashed a titanic roar. The men in the ski masks fell down on the floor and raised their hands over their heads in surrender.
“Meet our bear, Hands,” Woodruff said.
Hands stood up tall on his hind legs and roared again. The men in the ski masks scurried around the counter and fled out the back of the restaurant.
“I love it when a pun comes together,” Bob said.
“Free tacos for everyone!” Jose cheered.
“Yay,” Woodruff said. “Come on, Hands, let’s eat.”
Hands meandered up to the table and buried his snout in the plate. Woodruff and Bob gathered around their furry friend and grabbed tacos that slid to either side of the giant bear.
“Taco ‘bout a party,” Bob said with a grin.
“Puntastic,” Woodruff said.
“You can Jose that again,” Bob added.
Hands lifted his face from the plate with a disappointed grunt.
“Estoy de acuerdo, Oso,” Jose agreed. “You’re just trying too hard, amigo.”