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El Domador de Leones

Chapter Text

"La luna bajó para besar la Tierra, y yo no sabía que decir."

"Pero poniste tus armas alrededor de mí; ese día, la magia yo podía sentir."

"Nunca quería salirte atrás, para seguir mis sueños más loco."

"Ni la lluvia, ni la nieva tenerá mí de mi amor o niño aun un poco."

With a bold flourish, the song wound to a close.

And the audience erupted with applause.

"Gracias! Muchos gracias!"

The two boys stepped down from the gazebo, waving to the people gathered in the plaza as they did so.

"I think this calls for a round of drinks. What do you say, amigo?"

"That sounds good to me. Lead the way, Ernesto."

They packed up their gear and made course for the tavern.

"It's so nice to go out and see the country, playing for all the locals, writing songs,..."

"Sí. Of course, we know who the songwriter is between us."

"And we know who makes the songs powerful to those who hear them."

"Even so, nothing beats performing for our hometown."

They entered the tavern and were greeted with the sounds of laughter from a mariachi band at one of the tables.

The accordion player caught sight of the new patrons. "¡Oyé! It's Héctor Rivera and Ernesto de la Cruz!"

"Hola, señores."

"Oyé, ¿cómo están?"

"Muy bien, hombre."

Héctor and Ernesto took seats at the bar, and the bartender strode up to them. "Buenas tardes, señors."

"Hola. Two tequilas, por favor."

"Coming right up." The bartender laid out two bourbon glasses and filled them with tequila. "¡Buen provecho!"

"Gracias."

As the bartender went to help other customers, Héctor caught sight of another mariachi enter the tavern carrying a trumpet.

He was sporting a black eye on the left side of his face.

The mariachis already present started laying coins on their table.

"Looks like I win this bet."

"¡No es justo!"

The trumpeter sat down with his bandmates as Héctor walked over, curious. "¿Qué pasa?"

The mariachis looked to him. "¿Qué?"

"What was the bet?"

"We were making bets on where Alejo would get hit."

"Doing what?"

"Playing music for the market owner's daughter."

"Estoy confundido."

"Her quinceañera is approaching, and all the musicians in Santa Cecilia want to play for her when it comes. She has gained a reputation for throwing rocks at every mariachi who tries to play for her."

Ernesto had followed his friend to the table and got wind of the story. "She must not like music all that much, eh?"

"No, she does like music. In fact, she sings every night from her bedroom window. She's just a hard chica to please."

Ernesto thought about this. "I see. So, where does she live?"

"Whoa, slow down, hermano. I don't know if it's such a good idea."

"She lives just down the street from the market on top of the hill."

Ernesto picked up his suitcase. "Looks like we have our next stop, Héctor. ¡Vamanos!"

"¡Espera! Ernesto!" But he was already out the door.

Héctor sighed and looked to the mariachi band.

"Veinte pesos he loses a tooth."

"Black eye."

"Nosebleed."

"Elsewhere on the face."

Héctor gulped. "She always goes for the face?"

"She always hits the face."

"Never misses, eh?"

"It'd be suicidio to bet that she'll miss."

"To miss every throw?"

"To miss any throw."

"¡Ay caramba!" Héctor grabbed his guitar case and bolted out of the tavern in search of Ernesto.


He caught up to him just as he was passing the market.

"Ernesto! Are you loco?"

"Who isn't?"

"Did you not hear what those mariachis were saying?"

"She can't turn away everyone who tries to serenade her, can she?"

"What makes you think you'll get through to her?"

"There hasn't been a girl yet who hasn't been charmed by Ernesto de la Cruz."

"I guess the town will soon find out what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object."

They reached the house where the market owner lived. It was a two-story house painted white, with two windows above a porch roof, giving the general resemblance of a face.

"So, what exactly is the plan, amigo?"

"Alright. The first thing we should do is pretend that we're here to shine shoes."

"In front of a house where a soon-to-be 15-year-old girl whose padre owns the market is living?"

"We'll keep our sombreros tipped over our faces so that she thinks we're not interested in her."

"I'm most certainly not. But what's the plan when she starts hurling rocks at our faces?"

"We'll just wait for her to start singing, and then we play along with her."

"She's probably noticed that we're here by now and is waiting to strike as we speak."

"If she's insistent on scaring away mariachis, she'd be yelling at us to leave."

"It'd be best that we return to the plaza before she starts, then."

"She wouldn't be attracting so many mariachi men if she didn't like music."

"And what makes you think you'll succeed where every other mariachi has failed?"

"We'll see how she handles two mariachi men."

"What? What am I supposed to do?"

"You'll play the guitar, and I'll sing. We'll stand in different places so that she can't hit both of us."

Héctor saw his friend walk to the end of the fence furthest from the plaza. "I... suppose we could. But one song, and we go. ¿Comprendes?"

"Cruzo mi corazón."

"Bueno."


The two boys heard the window open, and they looked to see a young lady in a purple silk dress pushing aside the curtains.

Her face bore the shape of an egg, with dark chocolate eyes as hard as stone. Her lips were stretched thin as she surveyed the boys beyond the fence with a displeased but resigned look on her face.

Her delicate fingers combed the window curtains as she saw that only one of them was carrying an instrument. The other was tucking his curly bangs under his sombrero.

Catching sight of the guitarist's bony face with abnormally large features, she prepared herself for her test.

"Ay... de mí, Llorona... Llorona, de azul celeste..."

They both knew the song, and Héctor began to play along.

"Ay de mí, Llorona... Llorona, de azul celeste...
Y aunque la vida me cueste, Llorona, no dejaré de quererte...
No dejaré de quererte!"

The girl started tapping the desired rhythm on the windowsill, and Héctor picked up the pace.

"Me subí al pino más alto, Llorona, haber si te divisaba!
Me subí al pino más alto, Llorona, haber si te divisaba!
Como el pino era tierno, Llorona, al verme llorar, lloraba!
Como el pino era tierno, Llorona, al verme llorar, lloraba!"

Héctor stole a glance at the house, seeing that the girl had disappeared from the window. He didn't stop playing, though, and he soon saw her appear in the door of the house before dancing around the yard.

"La pena y la que no es pena, Llorona, todo es pena para mí!
La pena y la que no es pena, Llorona, todo es pena para mí!
Ayer, lloraba por verte, Llorona; hoy, lloro porque te vi!
Ayer, lloraba por verte, Llorona; hoy, lloro porque te vi!
Ay de mí, Llorona, Llorona... Llorona, de azul celeste!"

Ernesto joined in singing at that point.

"Ay de mí, Llorona, Llorona... Llorona, de azul celeste!
Y aunque la vida me cueste, Llorona, no dejaré de quererte!"

The girl disappeared into the house, but Ernesto kept singing.

"Y aunque la vida me cueste, Llorona, no dejaré de quererte!
No dejaré de quererte!
No dejaré de quererte!"

Héctor saw the girl reappear in the window with a rock in her hand, which she threw at Ernesto.

"Ay, llorooooooooooooooNAAAAAAAAJAAJAAJAAJAA!"

Ernesto had succeeded in hiding the pain he felt as the rock smacked him right in the forehead, but he stumbled back into the street and was down like a ton of lumber by the time his grito had wound down.