Elvin lifted the first chip. It was gooey, smothered in cheese, the cheese holding on the onion and tomato and bell pepper.
And in the very centre of the chip, sticking out of the cheese just a little bit, was another pepper. A hot pepper. You could barely see it, like a ghost, but still it was there.
Elvin put the whole chip in his mouth. He chewed, and he chewed, and he chewed, and he swallowed.
The pepper waited until that moment. Then it released its power.
If Elvin had known, he would have used sour cream, or at least ordered some water. He only had a beer in front of him – half a pint, rather than a full.
The pepper’s heat was slow to build, but steady. And it didn’t stop, building and building and building, until Elvin was sweating, his nose running, his face flushed. He drank the entirety of his beer, and still the burn kept building.
He waved down the waiter and croaked out, “Water. Please. A lot.”
The waiter nodded, then disappeared.
Elvin grabbed a napkin and held it to his head, wiping off the sweat that was starting to drip. Then he wiped his nose with it, and kept moving the napkin back and forth. Forehead, nose, forehead, nose. It was gross, but he only had the one napkin, which was by now entirely damp. Still, he kept using it.
It was some minutes before the waiter returned with a single glass of water. Elvin downed the entire thing, and was about to ask for more, but the waiter was already gone. Thankfully, the heat was starting to fade. Elvin slowly recovered, then stood. He walked to the bar, ordered another beer and a pitcher of water, and waited for both to arrive before he continued with the nachos.