Sons of Mexico
Disclaimer: Sands, El and the situations they are in all belong to Columbia Pictures Corporation via Robert Rodriguez.
Agent Sands had played high and had lost, even with a rigged game.
He knew he was dying. The warmth of the fading sun, the smells of dust and gunpowder, the distant din of fighting - these were the last things he would ever know. Those, and pain.
God, the pain.
He shifted his body against the warm wall, seeking a position less agonizing, but the movement only shot burning arrows through the three blasphemous holes in his body. He gasped. The hell of it was, he knew damn well none of his injuries had to be mortal. With anything resembling decent medical care - an urgent ambulance, paramedics, a race through city streets to a bustling ER where they would give him drugs - drugs for the pain …
Fuck. If only he were dying somewhere civilized, not in this shit-hole.
For once in his life, Sheldon Jeffrey Sands couldn't sustain his fury at the world. It sank into a pool of mourning. Who would have thought you could mourn your own death.
Then the pain demanded all his attention. The holes in his legs and arm still howled their outrage at him, even as blood-loss numbed his hands and feet. Distantly, he wondered why his eyes didn't hurt.
What eyes, Fuckmook? You'll never see again. Somehow it didn't seem to matter, much, as his life pooled beneath his butt, warm and sticky.
He panted like a dog in the hot sun, even as his body turned cold. No! He would not accept this! Somehow, there must be something …
The pain eclipsed any coherent thought.
Footsteps approached. Two men, wearing expensive cowboy boots. Walking fast - men with a mission. As they neared Sands's position, clicks and thunks announced guns being cocked.
Sands still had one good arm. He blew them both away, aiming with his hearing only.
No coherent thought necessary.
One man toppled near him, almost in reach. Sands listened, hearing the gurgle of the man's last breath.
He should have felt pleased, but nothing pierced the blazing pain.
Drugs, for the pain. Drugs …
Inch by agonizing inch, Sands dragged his screaming body to the dead man's side. The first pocket - nothing. The second - Sands's elbow slipped where it propped him up, and he collapsed. What should have been a howl of righteous pain and fury came out as a moan. He lay where he had fallen, face down. He could only manage the one further pocket.
Paydirt. At least he would die, as he had never been in life, happy.
The guitar town looked like many other dusty Mexican villages, but a few things set it apart from its fellows. One thing was the rows of hand-made guitars hanging like grapes from the vine, lining the main plaza. Another was the cars. Everyone in the town owned a car, wore fine clothes, and drank good beer. The smallest child could name the town's benefactor.
The limousine, nonetheless, attracted attention as it turned onto the plaza, tiny Mexican flags fluttering from its hood. The intruder slowed and stopped by a guitar stall where two old men sat in the afternoon heat sanding newly-made guitars. From the passenger side of the car stepped a suit-and-sunglasses-wearing man, who looked arrogantly around, then deigned to speak.
"I'm looking for The Mariachi," he said.
"Which one?" asked one man, shrugging.
"The," said the suit.
Two back doors opened and two more suit-wearing men stepped out, their jackets bulging beneath their left arms.
From every door, window, corner, and crack of the town came a cacophony of weapons clicking into readiness. The late afternoon sun glinted off of dozens of gun barrels aimed at the men by the limousine. From the far side of those barrels peered men of all ages, children, señoritas, and abuelas.
Startled, the suits froze, then slowly lifted their arms above their heads.
Unperturbed, the second old man spoke.
"We don't know who you're talking about." He smiled.
Swallowing hard, the first suit said, "I have a message for him from El Presidente."
The first old man looped a guitar string around a tuning peg and tightened. "What is the message?" he inquired.
First Suit took a deep breath. "Are you still a son of Mexico?" he called into the tense stillness of the town.
After a long moment, a black-clad figure descended from a rooftop and stepped into the square. Long hair flopped over piercing eyes as he bent to set his guitar carefully against a building. He walked steadily toward the limousine, backed by the weapons of the town.
"What do you want?" asked El Mariachi.
"I am honored to meet you," said First Suit.
"What do you want?"
"El Presidente requests your presence."
"Will you come?"
El Mariachi said nothing. He looked at the guitar stall with its unvarnished instruments, the old men who continued their work, the church beyond, and the dusty square. He raised a graceful hand, and the gun barrels vanished into the shadows.
The second old man reached beneath his table and handed El Mariachi a well-used guitar case. "Go with God," he said.
The new Presidential Palace might have been a drug lord's modest summer home. High enough in the hills for cool temperatures at night and high enough in the hills to be easily defensible from attack. El Mariachi approved. The property showed little ostentation beyond what the President's rank would require. A prudent sacrifice of ego for practicality.
El still felt out of place. He paced the tiled floor to look out a window at the eucalyptus and bougainvilla beyond. He could not be the man the President needed, and he knew it. To make matters worse, he knew exactly who the right man was.
A man he loathed.
But the best service he could give El Presidente, this man who cared about Mexico, cared about her people, cared for justice and honor, was to give him the name of a man who cared for none of it.
El Presidente, sitting at a small tea table, looked at the scrap of paper in his hand. "I never heard of him," he said.
"You probably heard of him. You just didn't know it was him they were talking about."
"Why would he help me?" El Presidente took a delicate sip of his tea.
"Money. Or power. Promise him a return favor. But make no mistake, Señor Presidente; you will be dealing with the Devil."
"Where can I find him?"
"No one knows. But if he's still living, he's the man you want."