The Moment Things Changed

He was tired. Tired of running. Tired of hiding. Tired of working so hard to keep Carolina and their bebé chica (little girl) safe. He had had enough. He wanted to put the old case away.

So when they found the little town, where all the people were a loose-knit familia (family), and the source of income was crafting guitars, he decided it was a sign. It was perfect.

They moved into the quarters off the big, old iglesia (church) as caretakers. The quiet and the peace were a blessing. And the dusty town's inhabitants welcomed El and his wife and daughter easily. When the village children found him playing an old lullaby on a newly finished instrument, they grabbed his hands and pulled him to the town square. He sat at the edge of the well and played and sang for hours, while the children danced. By the time the hot sun dipped over the horizon, the entire town was having a fiesta(celebration). Food and laughter and games popped up everywhere. And always, in the background, was the sweet sound El's fingers coaxed from his (guitar) guitarra, as he watched Carolina and poco (little) Selene smile and dance.

He could not remember ever being happier.

And for a time, they could even believe they were safe. That no one would come looking for them. That things would finally work out right.

He should have known better. After all, "Árbol que crece torcido jamás se tronco endereza". (The tree that grows crocked will never straighten its trunk.)

He was on the edge of town when it all went to hell. He heard the yelling and the smashing of windows and flesh. Women were shrieking and the men were yelling angrily, and a little girl was screaming, over and over "Deja a mi mamá sola!" (Leave my mother alone!)

He knew that they had been discovered. But how? El diablo (the devil) himself could not have found them. Someone had given them up. He swore, por su honor (on my honor), that whoever it was would be made to pay. He would find them, if he had to hunt them to the end of the earth.

Then all that was forgotten as he ran. His guitar case, los condenados () case that had gotten him mixed up in all of this to begin with, was in the church. He would never make it in time. They had finally felt safe enough for him to put it away. And he would regret that for the rest of his life.

El ran towards Plaza de la Ciudad (), desperately, fighting the need to scream. He arrived just in time to see the soldados (soldiers) fire on the crowd. People were falling everywhere. He knew he should care, but all he could care about were Carolina and Selene. They were his life. They had made him put his pasado (past) behind him. They were todo () to him.

And then he saw them. Carolina stood tall, protecting and hiding Selene behind her. And facing them was General Márquez.

No. No! Por favor, Dios, que éste sea un sueño! (Please, God, let this be a dream!)

As the bullets mowed down Carolina, and Selene, his little querida (sweetheart) Selene, began to cry, El ran forward.

He felt the first slug slam into him, feeling like atoro bravo (a bull) had plowed into his side. The balas (bullets) kept coming, and he went down. But he came up, again and again, as though he wasn't heridos (injured), as though he felt no pain.

He was far too late. When finally he lay, his blood soaking into the tierra (ground), he closed his eyes and let the tears come.

Me ha fallado. Me ha fallado. ()

A soldier came over and kicked him in the ribs, and El could not even move.

He let himself sink away, following the rio (river) of his blood away from himself and his inútil (useless) body. He was gone.

And then he wasn't.

El woke to a potent combination of entumecimiento (numbness) and pain. He tried to remember...

And then he didn't want to.

Ellos están muertos. Mi querida familia está muerta. (They are dead. My family is dead.)

And he remembered who had killed them. The banked fire in his heart began to rugir (rage) and burn, with the force and fires of del infierno (Hell).

He would help rebuild the village, help the familias (families) of those that remained. He would make things right.

Then El Mariachi would take up his funda de la muerte ()and he would kill General Márquez.

This was now his objetivo (goal). This was now his life.

¡lo juro! (I swear!)