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I’m trying to identify a short story I read in an anthology of science fiction shorts. I read it about ten years ago, but the book (from a library) was considerably older.

Two men meet at a bar and begin to chat. In the course of the conversation they discover that they are actually both aliens - I think one attempts to probe the other one’s mind, and the other one notices the telepathic intrusion.

Once they realize that they are both extraterrestrials they reveal the truth about why they are visiting Earth. One catches humans to send them to his home planet where their flesh is considered delicious, while the other stirs up minor wars so that alien tourists can visit and enjoy watching the fighting.

The story ends with the first alien criticizing the other, because wars end up spoiling a lot of fine meat.

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    Are you sure it was a written story, not a TV episode? Sounds somewhat similar to the Twilight Zone episode Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Will_the_Real_Martian_Please_Stand_Up%3F . – Pete Nov 28 '20 at 0:51
  • Thanks for the suggestion, but I'm absolutely sure it was a written short story. – Clara Diaz Sanchez Nov 28 '20 at 1:07
  • Sounds like a mixture of a few of the stories the the Tales from the Spaceport Bar collection. Are you certain that the elements are all in the one story? – KerrAvon2055 Nov 28 '20 at 6:10
  • I'm completely certain @KerrAvon2055 – Clara Diaz Sanchez Nov 28 '20 at 9:37
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    I have read this, and I agree with @Clara Diaz Sanchez that all the elements were in the story. I'm trying to remember where I read it. One possibility is Larry Niven's "War Movie", one of his Draco Tavern stories. That (I think) features an alien who wants to stir up minor wars. I can't remember whether it also features the other alien. Clara, if you look at isfdb.org/cgi-bin/title.cgi?94384 , it will tell you the anthologies that "War Movie" was in. I can't find a copy online to check my memory. It may not have been "War Movie": the alien who catches humans sounds un-Niven like. – Phil van Kleur Dec 3 '20 at 20:07
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Against the odds, browsing in a (different) library a decade later, I managed to find the story again. It is entitled "I'm a stranger here myself", a short story by Mack Reynolds, first published in Amazing Stories, December 1960.

As I recalled in recounts the meeting of two men, Paul and Rupert, meeting by chance at a bar in Tangier. This was presumably during the existence of the Tangier International Zone, when the city was a haven of tolerance and bohemianism. The International Zone ended in 1956 when Tangier was restored to Morocco, so the story was already a little dated by the time it was published. As the story notes:

"It's the one town in the world where anything goes. Nobody gives a damn about you or your affairs. For instance, I've known you a year or more now, and I haven't the slightest idea of how you make your living."

"That's right," Paul admitted. "In this town you seldom even ask a man where's he's from. He can be British, a White Russian, a Basque or a Sikh and nobody could care less.

They chat, and one of the topics that come up is whether Earth is being visited by UFOs. Paul asks Rupert where he is from, and when he replies "California", he replies:

"No, you're not ... "I felt your mind probe back a few minutes ago when I was talking about Scotland Yard or the F.B.I. possibly flushing an alien. Telepathy is a sense not trained by the humanoids. If they had it, your job—and mine—would be considerably more difficult. Let's face it, in spite of these human bodies we're disguised in, neither of us is humanoid. Where are you really from, Rupert?"

"Aldebaran," I said. "How about you?"

"Deneb," he told me, shaking.

We had a laugh and ordered another beer.

As I recalled, Paul (the Denebian) was on Earth "Researching for one of our meat trusts. We're protein eaters. Humanoid flesh is considered quite a delicacy", while Rupert was there "Scouting the place for thrill tourists. My job is to go around to these backward cultures and help stir up inter-tribal, or international, conflicts—all according to how advanced they are. Then our tourists come in—well shielded, of course—and get their kicks watching it." The story concludes with Paul reproving this practice:

"That sort of practice could spoil an awful lot of good meat."

The full story is available on Project Gutenberg.

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    Glad we could be of absolutely no help at all! – Paul D. Waite Dec 9 '20 at 16:04
  • Afraid so. This is the right answer. – Phil van Kleur Dec 10 '20 at 16:18

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