Ramblings from the tilde

A Dilemma Has No Good Options

Ambrose Bierce used to say that the hardest decision for a honorable man was choosing between raisins and radishes. Ambrose Bierce said many more things; for example, that a cradle is a trough in which a human infant is agitated to keep it sweet, or that an opportunity is a favourable occasion for grasping a disappointment. We cannot guess what was the fact about the raisins or the radishes that kept him in displease, he probably found them terrible or somewhat (I don't personally find raisins terrible, but this story is not about me).

In the year 1913, the day after Christmas, Ambrose Bierce was heading SW when he met Nathaniel Ebenezer Hickox. He is long forgotten now, but he was a hard-boiled bandit and also a very bad tempered motherfucker.

"Stop there", said Hickox, drawing his gun. It was an impressive object.

Bierce obeyed silently. His horse, a somewhat old but still good-looking male, found Bierce's lack of words disquieting. Silence was not common in his presence.

"What are you doing this far, old man?", said the bandit, almost without opening his mouth.

"I'm going beyond the border to join Pancho Villa's army", said Bierce.

Hickox hummed. "And why would you do such a stupid thing?".

Bierce took a look at the bandit's animal: it was a strong stallion with a very singular white mark on its forehead.

"It's what I have to do", replied Bierce, arms crossed.

"Mmmmm. Do. Mmmmm. Do.", said Hickox, and then: "What do you have on that bag?".

The wind blew for a second and nothing was to be heard.

"Tell me, my friend", said Bierce, "If you had to pick one, what would you prefer, raisins or radishes?".

Hickox scratched his filthy beard with his free hand. Suddenly, he realized that he didn't want to answer stupid questions from a bizarre man, nor breathing dust from the plains, nor bearing the annoying pain in the back that was there for days, nor thinking about raisins nor radishes: he remembered a warm place in El Paso, a site full of music and seƱoritas and whiskey and with a delicious smell of recently made beef steak.

Then, without a word, he left, leaving Ambrose Bierce alone. The beloved writer and notable bigmouth observed the bandit's figure as he disappeared towards the horizon.