On the Sad Origins of the Mariachi Stone

The year is 1918 and a poor guitarist in a Tijuana mariachi band stops in front of his door, pauses, and decides not to go inside. He takes off his fancy boots and puts them in a burlap sack that his wife put out on top of the trash and he ties it to his hip. When he slings his guitar, it hangs under his arm, and the neck points north, so he starts the four-hour trek to Chula Vista.

The man has never been to California, but the air changes, and he knows that he’s no longer in Mexico. It’s nighttime, and he’s tired, so he sits on a large flat stone and rests his feet. He considers putting his boots back on, but he doesn’t want the rhinestones to become caked with the gray desert dust. He takes a sip from a bag of wine that a patron had given him earlier and his gnarled fingers press against the perfect, straight strings of his guitar. A rattlesnake, drawn by the vibration of the sad song, slithers over, and before the old mariachi can move away, it bites his ankle.

Faced with his inevitable demise, the sad musician begins to accelerate the tempo until the entire desert is filled with the sound of his guitar and he pitches back his head and dies. His flesh goes first, then his clothes, and finally the guitar. If you can find the mariachi’s rock, the guitar strings are fused to his bleached bones, waiting to be restrung and played again.

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