When Lorenzo first saw El Mariachi he had just been a mariachi, walking down the streets of the Mexican guitar town. His stride in time with the beat of the traditional music that his guitar sang out while his lowered head caused hair to sweep forward and hide his face from onlookers.
The song was catchy to say the least and Lorenzo wanted to learn it.
Boldly, he strode over to El with confidence radiating.
"Nice song, amigo. Mind teaching it to me?" he inquired.
"Yes," was the 'piss off' reply he got from El.
The taller mariachi was taken aback.
This town had the reputation for being unbelievably kind, especially when concerning the mariachis. That was the whole reason that Lorenzo's father had sent him in this direction- to get some pointers from them.
His father ran a bar out of one of Mexico's tourist traps that catered to girls looking for a few fun, mariachi-make-out sessions. What with running a bar and having a couple of unemployed sons, Lorenzo's dad had decided to send the boys away on a mission to earn some skills that would put them to use in his bar and any other bar that might want them.
Lorenzo had the looks for a bartender but none of the abilities. So, knocking one occupation off his list, he had began making his way down the notches of bar-related occupations.
He was on option number four of that list: Become a mariachi.
But he couldn't get pointers. At least, not any that mattered. Because the best guitar player he had come across in the town was telling him 'no' without the slightest bit of mirth in his tone.
"Did I phrase it wrong? How about, 'Will you teach me'?" Lorenzo tried again.
"You phrased it wrong, yes, but I still won't teach you," came the older man's terse reply.
"Well, why the fuck not?!" Lorenzo exclaimed.
El lifted his head to look up from the strings and into Lorenzo's eyes with feirce intensity as though this man could see every skeleton in his lecherous closet.
It made his skin crawl.
El's eyes lowered and settled back upon the strings, silent still, because words held no weight when a look like that could be delivered.
It was when Lorenzo saw the scar on El's hand that he was finally able to connect the dots.
"You should really put a glove over that," Lorenzo said, smiling lopsidedly at El.
"I told you no, kid," already turning away from Lorenzo to walk away.
"No for teaching me that bitchin' song. Not for conversation, El."
His new conversation companion's head whipped around like Lorenzo had punched him in the back, his feet stilled and his body language appearing significantly more invested in the conversation than had been a few moments before.
"Subtlety doesn't suit you, huh?"
Lorenzo was still smiling.
El failed to see the humor.
"I mean; the chains, the scar, that scorpion embellishment, the black, and the guitar? You're like a billboard, dude."
"You're like an American in a Mexican's skin."
El was speaking in Spanish, his eyes narrowed in annoyance.
"Have more pride."
Lorenzo decided if he wanted a story or two he would need to play by El's rules. He switched to his native tongue.
"Sorry, English is just what the tourists order so I deliver."
He bowed dramatically as though to a crowd of adoring American fans.
El let the guitar swing around on the strap, his body an axis, and it came to rest upon his back instead of his chest.
Hell yes, Lorenzo thought, Full attention.
"Do you also deliver herpes?"
El's dry tone cut through the air like a knife.
"Because too many women will give you that as well, along with their adoration."
"I thought you were running around the country with that hot latina with the knives, huh?" Lorenzo changed the subject.
"I was under the impression my family was safe in this town. Considering how you found me out so quickly and you wear the persona of a man who likes to tell flashy stories-"
Lorenzo lifted his hands, quick to defend himself.
"I'm not about to tell anybody about this. I don't aim to cause you any trouble! You're just a legend, is all. But if I get drunk, I can't be held accountable for what I say…" his voice trailed suggestively.
"You want to learn that stupid song? Come with me, kid."
"Lorenzo, man. My name's Lorenzo."
"Psh," El rolled his eyes, not slowing in his pace towards his hacienda.
All Lorenzo could think about was how much badgering he had to do before he could see that famous case.
He never counted on El giving it to him.
"This is your brother?" an unfamiliar voice said above him. Fideo groaned and forced his eyes to blink open.
"Yeah, kind of a heavy-weight," Lorenzo, his brother, was laughing lightly.
"Wha?" Fideo groaned as his eyes attempted to focus on something in the room and- wait...
Who was this big guy with the shaggy hair?
Fideo reached his hand out and touched the hair.
The stranger-in-question broke into a light smile, slightly uncomfortable to say the least but Fideo couldn't see the uneasiness. He just saw that hair.
"Why… long… Ungh."
"Fideo, you really got shitfaced, huh?" Lorenzo laughed, leaning over and thwacking his brother's hand so Fideo would let go of the man's hair.
"You were so bad I had to bring you over to El's place."
"Why are you here, Lorry?" Fideo slurred.
The man dubbed El looked over at Lorenzo with a frown. Fideo didn't remember even coming down to visit? That was the sign of addiction if he ever saw it.
"You came to visit your brother but decided it'd be good to get shit-faced before the fact. You stumbled into the hacienda and proceeded to throw up on my daughter's toys, so thanks a lot for that," a woman said as she strode in. There was a cold sarcastic smile on her lips.
"Fideo, that's Carolina," Lorenzo informed his brother before he pointed to El.
"I heard you call him that before, Lorry," Fideo grumbled at his brother moodily.
"Sorry to irritate you." Lorenzo rolled his eyes.
Carolina and El were just staring at Fideo. Both had very different expressions on their faces. Carolina looked like she was resisting the urge to throw the drunkard out on the streets—her arms were crossed and her hip was popped out to one side as her toe tapped impatiently. At one point she even flipped her hair out of her face to perfect her personification of a nagging wife.
El's expression was soft though. He just watched Fideo with a sort of unknown sympathy. His eyes were brown and soft and insightful. Fideo could swear he saw the world in those eyes. And what Fideo saw of the world was that it was cold, mean, and dark and that this man had seen all of that.
"Ungh," Fideo groaned and shut his eyes.
"Does your head hurt?" El asked, his voice kind.
"I hope so. You broke that vase over his head so it better have been worth it. If it broke and there's nothing to show for it, I'll be pissed."
With that, Carolina turned on her heel and trotted out of the room huffily.
"She likes you, I think," El assured Fideo but he still looked a bit worried.
"You… you hit me with… with a vase?" Fideo stared at El before looking at Lorenzo with an incredulous expression.
"You had just barged into my home mumbling obscenities and then you screamed out something-"
"You screamed out 'Fuck a duck!' and promptly threw up on his daughters toys, Fideo," Lorenzo interrupted El's soft spoken story.
"Fuck a duck?" Fideo looked at Lorenzo and then at El.
"I had to incapacitate you to save my daughter's innocence," the oldest man informed Fideo.
The drunkard sat there for a second before nodding.
"Okay. That's cool."
Lorenzo stared at him in confusion.
"He's nice enough and I threw up all over his kids stuff. So, the vase thing is cool. He didn't do it to be an ass."
The smallest man shrugged.
"Fideo, El has been teaching me guitar. Maybe he can teach you some stuff and you can learn enough to get a job from Dad. What do you say about that?"
Fideo took a swig of tequila and grinned at his brother blissfully as El stood up from his previous kneeling position in front of him.
Then he drawled, "I say, quite confidently, that that's cool too."
The first time he'd seen him was lost in the sea of memories that flooded in when he thought back on those days around Day of the Dead. Sure, he could conjure it up if he wanted to. He could dwell on the man in front of him at that table with a guitar and a case of the blues. But he didn't. No, that encounter wasn't what mattered. Because Sands never saw El for who he was until he lost his ability to see.
It was cheesy, and it was stupid and Sands hated himself for having a thought even semi-along those lines. Because it was almost a lie to him. That man at the table had been El Mariachi, just like the man lying beside him on the bed was El Mariachi. He could hear the Mexican's breathing nice and even at his side.
Back then he had seen the weaknesses and had exploited them. No, it wasn't much different than how he looked at people now and Sands would admit that. He had looked across the table and he hadn't seen a handsome man with shaggy brown hair and a bulky guitar that hid a gun inside. He had seen a man who had nothing to live for. So he took that string and tugged a little harder.
Why don't you want to live? Somebody killed your family, hmm? Tough deal. Here's a little treat for your cooperation. The general is alive and lurking.
Oh, I got your attention? Fantastic, because it's just what I wanted to catch.
More? You want more? Well, that's a lot to ask.
Make him beg. Make him plead. You'll get what you want and you'll get it with interest. Wait long enough and you might just make an unwilling ally.
Here's the location of the general. Here's the location of your test.
Take it. Cherish it. I'm giving you your revenge. I'm giving you closure. Pleasurable, isn't it, darling?
So El had taken the bait, just like every other mark. He took the picture, spun the guitar around his hand and he skulked off and out of the restaurant. Because, what would acceptance be if you did it without a little spunk? If El had just taken the picture, nodded, and did what he was told Sands wouldn't have taken his help in the alley after the Day of the Dead. Sands would have rather died than let an impressionable ball of clay guide him around by his hand.
But El had got up suddenly, spit the food out on the ground in an unsaid 'fuck you' and continued on his way. Sands smiled, but being worthy meant one more thing. It meant that El was able to think for himself. It meant he'd need to be watched after.
Sands sent that traitor Cucuy after him.
How ironic, Sands mused, to have a traitor look after a savior.
Was that what El had become? A savior? He definitely wasn't a demon, as some of the legends made him out to be pure evil.
No. El was a goody-goody two-shoes to his very core. Occasionally he shot a guy or two, but hey, who hadn't at some point in their life?
The phone calls filled with sarcasm made Sands smirk as he thought back.
Little by little he put the puzzle together.
El, the trigger happy widow that he was, had saved him. Okay, so Sands wouldn't kill him. He had been able to make that decision about other people. Don't kill them, they did well and they could do it again. It might be worth it in the long run to keep them in your life.
Sands had joined the mariachi on the road as the cartel began to chase them like rabid dogs. Granted, Sands was a bit distracted towards the beginning due to his newfound blindness to think of all the ways El 'charmed' him but he wasn't unaware of the things that amused him.
Sands found it incredibly amusing when he pissed El off.
Because then El fought back and Sands loved a good challenge. After all, what was a companion if he couldn't give you a little fire every now and then? Besides, Sands got bored incredibly easily.
Take it. Cherish it. I'm getting your mind off that wife of yours. I'm giving you closure. Pleasurable, isn't it, El?