"Welcome to the city of Xalapa"
Jose along with his new friend walked cross the sign board and headed towards the city fair. With the lights dazzling across the evening sky, Jose gave Juan a wink.
"My friend Juan here wants to take part in the traditional Dragon Lord competition" Jose informed the old curly moustached man couching on the registration counter. The old man took a look at the lanky lad and showed a doubtful face at Jose.
"Can he survive the first few pieces?" bellowed the old man.
“Wait and see! We’ll round the $2000 and the trophy for sure”, assured Jose.
The clock struck 8:00 pm and the competition began. Two-time defending champion Carlos, dug right into the dish and started hogging the Javanero chili with intense pace. While the rest of the competitors burnt their tongues eating the spicy Javaneros, Juan went slow and calm at the start. Two minutes into the round, the amateurs started to ‘Ssssssss’ and ‘Aaahhhhhhh’ at the blazing peppers, while Carlos steadied his lead by finishing the fourth of the fifteen Javaneros. Juan snacked the third one with ease.
Five minutes into the fiery competition, and most of the participants started to gulp the last drop of the one liter water provided to them. Carlos stared at Juan, the only other competitor successfully eating the peppers without consuming even a single droplet of water. With the Dragon Lord Trophy at stake, Carlos focused on the bowl of Javaneros. He told himself, “None can eat the remaining 10” and he dwelled into the hot bowl of chilies.
Fifteen minutes surpassed. The crowd yelled ‘Carlos’ ‘Carlos’ ‘Carlos’. Juan had two more Javaneros to finish. Carlos was into the last one. But with water proving to be nearly empty, made Carlos sweat at the last piece. With at most determination Carlos rooted the last piece into his mouth. He chewed it and felt the fire ashen his mouth, the heat broiled his breath and as soon as he finished the last piece, he ran to the nearby pool and drowned his head into it. The crowd was on a high. They were cheering yet again at Carlos, the undefeated champion of the Dragon Lord game.
Slowly the cheer came to hushes. Juan finished the last Javanero and looked at Jose. Jose gave him a nod and Juan as if he never tasted a Javanero in his lifetime, started eating a Javanero from his neighbors bowl. The crowd went agape. There was silence among the city crowd. With his burning mouth open Carlos couldn’t believe what he was watching.
Jose understood the situation and asked Juan to stop. Juan kept the half finished seventeenth Javanero and drank half the water of his pitcher. Juan collected the prize from the hands of the frozen city mayor and walked off the dais. Juan and Jose walked past the gates of the fair and disappeared into darkness.
“See I told you amigo. You can still win standing on the dais in front of the city crowd even if you lost your tongue in an accident” Juan smiled at Jose and both the friends continued their walk counting the $2000 outside Xalapa with the Dragon Lord Trophy shining in the moon lit sky.