But the largest contributor to the restaurant's thoroughly vile ambience was the oppressively amateurish mural that covered three walls. The artist apparently suffered from delirium tremens and had access only to a paint gun and a supply of ammunition discontinued due to its unpopular colors; it is unlikely that the predominant colors of periwinkle, ochre, and magenta were chosen for their strong metaphorical connotations. One wall attempted to depict a scene from the balcony of a lakeside mansion during some nondescript daylight hour; the front wall abruptly changed to a midnight scene of a ghostly woman dragging a bright green fishing net through a lake populated by flying fishlike creatures; the third wall appeared to be an undulating cornfield-like sea of people with twisted faces, most gesturing like Michael Flatley in Lord of the Dance, with a number of people on snowboards falling from the sky into the crowd without the benefit of parachutes. Certain elements of the mural crept onto the ceiling, and it appeared that some attempt was also made to escape, albeit unsuccessfully, into the ceramic tile near the bottoms of the three walls. As if the abrupt conjunction between the three disparate scenes did not leave the interpretation in a sufficiently treacly state, the artist performed some arcane pseudomath betraying an unhealthy interest in the numbers pi and e in no less than three places throughout the mural. One wall bore an abortive attempt to express pi to the eth power as a continued fraction (which inexplicably ended in ".exe"); another contained some numeric notation that may have been the artist expressing e in base pi, or maybe not. If, at this point, there was any doubt that the artist was waging some secret ideological war, the sun in the balcony scene had been replaced with a radiant pi -- or as close as you can get to radiant with periwinkle, ochre, and magenta. The primary feeling I got from looking upon the mural was one of unspeakable, withering embarrassment -- never has an alleged work of art come so close to actively glowering at me.
The cashier was simultaneously incompetent, insolent, and dismissive. His English was barely good enough to take my order and tell me my number. Although the menu listed their price as $1.49, I found that I had been charged $2.29 for each chalupa, and the cashier's linguistic skills were not up to the task of resolving this without the intervention of the manager, who told me that I had been charged the correct price and that they just hadn't had time to update the prices on the menu. I thought about complaining, but any expectation of getting anything at all worthwhile, let alone my money's worth, had largely vanished under the pre-emptive artistic assault on my way to the counter.
When my number was called, I picked up my meal, which, of course, consisted of the worst chalupas I ever had.