Author: Guede Mazaka
Sands dreams. Not well, not quietly and never lightly, but he does dream.
This time, he's in the courtyard, Ajedrez's body at his feet, broken little monkey sprawled cut-stringed across the matted dust. He can see, and that's the first thing that tips him off. The second is when he lifts his hands to his face and gropes for his eyes but finds nothing but brutal holes. His nails catch on something, then slip off. Frustrated, he digs again and again in his sockets until he finally twists the shitty rubber band of an itch around his thumb and pulls it out.
He's never been to medical school, but that hadn't stopped him from learning more than most of the shit-nosed practitioners that sit cool and frigid behind their large steel desks and proclaim fates like the three judges of the underworld. It's Mexico, after all: land of the dead who kill the living, where the injustice smiles, grandfatherly-kind, before it casually lifts its hand-stitched genuine African crocodile boots and grinds a heel into the broken back of goodness. Hope isn't a small bright thing here; it's large and vulture-winged, and its claws are always fringed with fresh flesh gobbets.
So that's the long introduction to a very simple fact: Sands knows what he's holding. It's an optic nerve.
The other one comes out just as easy, and then he can see for himself what Guevara's wrought. Sight's back, doubled and reversed like the cruelest of the cruel mirrors, silvered glass more sadistic than the one that swallowed Plath's hag, and it shows him himself. A beautiful wreck, smoothness all gone to angle and sharp and edge. As he watches, a puff of wind blows a strand of hair across his right socket, and the hair slices in two. Not bad for a hell-bitch.
No, he's not a fag or a confused feministic dick. He's got balls and a prick, but he also was legitimate all the way--can't prove a thing, sir--until Dias de Los Muertos. Bastard isn't his chosen descriptor.
The images droop and lengthen, melting in the blistering air, and an ache dulls the back of his eyeholes, fucking spikes into his mind. His scuffed-gray nerves are stretching, thinning, and suddenly he's got six of them. Could've gone for five, but of course his memory reminds that El's happened to have six and then Sands roundly curses Freud. Goddamn unconscious, which no one ever really bothered to have till civilization came around and created its artificial constructs of madness.
And so it's not too surprising that Ajedrez's body goes shiny, as prettily varnished as her previous meticulous makeup, back when she was a corpse and not a guitar. Sands has never wished as hard as he is now that he could be a lucid dreamer, because he's bending over and stringing her and cradling her and he can't fucking stop himself, and the wood is clawing at his belly when he presses up against it. Strings catch at his fingers, making the blood run and stain the varnish even deeper, robust rot hue that matches perfectly the recollection of El's eyes as seen through the filter of bitterness.
Sands doesn't know what he's playing. Hell, he doesn't know how to play-but he is, and it's not the song of El's brother that was dead by El's hand, or the plastic-sweet songs of America, or the sprightly melancholy ones of traditional Mexico. It's something entirely different that gets into Sands' system, worm through the backdoor of his confusion, and eats out his motherboard while his fingers continue to trip the light fantastic on the fretboards. It's like listening to his life, drained of vitality and processed till it makes a boringly titillating story, fit only for the late-night shock-jock tabloid channels.
It's a call.
Robert Johnson and his cemetery be damned, because all Sands needs is a fucking bad first night out of the hospital and a goddamn lumpy bed. Oh, and the devil dresses like a mariachi on parade.
And Sands keeps on strumming-that's probably a lousy country tune, and he's really going to hurt the ages when he wakes up-and the devil rises up in flash and smoke and he comes over to Sands' guitar, head cocked so the straight black hair's covering his face. It's vaguely reminiscent of Belini's stories, and so Sands resigns himself to the permanent establishment of El in his subconscious. Better that fuck than Barillo. Except then the devil's right there, Lucifer breathing his brimstone in Sands' unimpressed face, long spidery fingers splaying over Sands' own like some two-bit bodice-ripper novel's lover. Burning right through the guitar as they twist around the strings, shooting Sands' sight six ways to damnation, and fuck, Sands is not taking this.
He drops the ashed frame of his instrument and shoves the hair out of Satan's face.
One thing-it ain't El.
Seven weeks later, which number probably would mean something if El actually counted days, Sands shows up. He kicks aside the guitar case, walks into the gun muzzle like he doesn't know it's there-damn lucky thing that El's curiosity is stupid enough to rein in the trigger finger-and spends a good five minutes feeling every inch of El's face.
El takes off Sands' sunglasses, and then he remembers that he dreamed this, somewhere in between fifth and seventh chords of a funeral dirge. "Blind."
"Fucked," Sands pronounces. "Matches, don't it?"
"Go away." El puts down his gun and reaches for his guitar, but Sands gets there and they touch electricity that flares behind El's eyes, momentarily making him see hell within the wood.
Sands grins, patting the guitar like an old friend. "I think we need to talk."