Mind-numbed and tongue-muted by her beauty and the sibilant swish of her sarong as she slithered off, and coerced by his starved and rioting stomach into wolfing down the food, he failed to note the small scimitar of red, looking like a horn cut from the skull of a miniature Satan, tucked under the water chestnuts and broccoli, and atop the stir-fried chicken. As he bit down on it, the hot pepper crackled and popped, setting off a conflagration inside his mouth. Bitter tears rolled down his cheeks. His nose hairs wilted. It felt like his tongue had been thrown, like an unfortunate Indian widow, onto a funeral pyre.
He tipped his head back, and using both hands, sent the opaque contents of the tall glass streaming down his throat like the forced flow from a fireman’s pulsing hose. His tonsils went from flaming to sizzling to merely scorched. His taste buds had stopped functioning, and the inside of his cheeks felt like burnt pine boards ready to split into charred splinters if he flexed his facial muscles. His rapid heartbeat banged away on his ear drums and his brain had been short-circuited by adrenaline.
Gradually, his rasping respiration ebbed, his eyes dried, and the danger of cardiac arrest passed. “Next time, Rome” he said to himself. “Next time, McDonald’s at the Spanish Steps.”
(“Travel fiction” is just that: Stories that involve travel, but are made up of whole cloth, and not necessarily based, even in part, on real people, real places, or real events. This story was inspired by a writing project for a class on using the five senses to describe a scene).