GENRE: YA Sci-Fi
If there was one thing Tom Raines liked more than stomping people in VR sims, it was messing with Fernando the Fake Native American.
He found Fernando standing in the hot clouds of sand swirling in front of the Dusty Squanto Casino, wearing a feathered headdress and holding a case of bottles. Tom knew what was in them: dollar store perfume diluted with vinegar and tap water. Tourists bought them because Fernando hawked them as 'holistic Native American tonics'.
Tom hopped up onto the back of a nearby bench, the sun-baked wood searing him through his jeans. He pressed his sweaty hand over his mouth to hide his grin as Fernando's roving gaze settled on him. The Mexican guy's bored expression shifted into a speculative one. He fixed his features into his best 'Honest Native American Chief' look and drew in for the kill.
"How white man!" Fernando greeted Tom.
Tom almost tumbled off the back of the bench, choking on his laughter. He faked a coughing fit to hide it.
"In my teepee last night," Fernando told him, "the spirits of my ancestors came to tell me of your coming."
Tom widened his eyes, playing along. "They did? Why?"
"My ancestors said I must speak today to a young white man about curing his skin problem."
"How could the spirits of your ancestors possibly know about my skin problem?" Tom exclaimed in mock wonder, because come on, it was really kind of obvious his skin was messed up. He didn't have a patch of skin on his face free of acne.
"My ancestors have great wisdom. They knew this skin problem would be on your face."
"Great! So where on my face is it?"
Fernando blinked, caught off guard. Tom was practically disfigured, after all. "My ancestors told me it would be right there." He twirled his finger in a circle before Tom's eyes, indicating his entire face.
"So you're saying this skin problem thing is really on my face? I mean, are you sure these ancestors are telling you the truth? Because maybe they don't know what they're talking about. Maybe the spirits of your ancestors were passing around the spirit of the peace pipe, and I don't have a skin problem at all."
"Of course you have a skin problem, kid," Fernando said, slipping out of character. "You have the worst acne I've ever seen. Haven't you looked in a mirror lately?"
"No. I don't believe you!"
Fernando stared at him. Tom stared back, the picture of confusion, knowing he really looked like a perplexed fourteen-year-old who had somehow gone all these years without noticing how ugly he was. He was good at playing innocent. Even a con artist like Fernando couldn't crack him.