Mariachi in the City
A Mariachi walked in the city in the middle of the day. He had a gold trumpet at his side. His Mariachi suit and sombrero were black with gold embroidery and he wore a red bow tie. Every now and then, at red lights, he would play a little bit of the trumpet. Sometimes people would clap. Sometimes they would just stand there in awe.
The Mariachi was on his way to meet his team, but he was late and lost in the city. He called the guitarist to ask for directions.
“Where’s this funeral? I thought you said it was on 17th Street?” the trumpeter asked.
“It’s on 34th St and Lemon. You’ll have to hurry because it starts at 1:30,” the guitarist said.
“I’ll be there on time!” the trumpeter said.
He hailed a taxi and they sped along to the funeral. He smoked a cigarette out of the window as they skipped through town like a stone on a lake. The taxi was red, green, and white, like the Mexican flag, so he considered it a good sign.
They arrived right on time. The trumpeter walked in the funeral house playing “Un Puño de Tierra.” The son of the woman who was deceased began to sing along with the Mariachis. He closed his eyes most of the time as he sang. He sang well and more importantly he honored his mom. When he finished, he gave the Mariachis a big hug and shed a few tears on their shoulders.
The next day the trumpeter received a text message from the guitarist. “We have a change of schedule today. We’re no longer performing at the baptism downtown. They canceled. Instead, we’re going to meet at Nacho’s (the violinist’s house) and watch La Liga MX final. We could use a break, compa,” he said.
“Sounds like a plan, compa!” the trumpeter replied. The Mariachi put his gold trumpet back in its silver case and got ready for the game. He was hoping for a León victory!
A circus performer smoked a cigarette on his lunch break. He had once been the lion tamer at the same circus, but had been demoted to Adjunct Clown. He looked up at the thick clouds as he smoked. Spring is a tease, he thought. His red, blue, and yellow suit clashed with the grey clouds in the sky.
When he finished smoking, he put on his red nose and headed back to the circus tent. What will I do today? He thought. Ride a tiny bicycle? Balloon tricks? Wrestle an alligator? Or general deviance? He decided to do balloon tricks. First, he made a pig. It was soft, pink, and adorable. The audience clapped. Then he made a giraffe. It was yellow and had a neck longer than twice its body. More applause. Finally, he made a Tyrannosaurs Rex. It had a giant head, big feet, long tail, and tiny hands. He placed the T‑Rex on the floor and it started to walk and growl. The audience was amazed. They stood on their feet and clapped, loudly.
At midnight, the clown clocked out and went home. He lived by the ocean where it’s always overcast and gloomy. He made a green tea as soon as he got home. He sipped the tea as he read the local newspaper. In the back of the paper, he saw an ad announcing the circus calendar. He was filled with pride. His jaw dropped as he gawked at the photo of the juggler, the acrobat, the lion tamer, and himself. That’s me! he said. It’s really me! He put the paper on the fridge with a magnet and went to bed.
The next day, he took the ad to Michael’s and framed it. He hung the frame in his garage where he practiced his circus tricks. He felt accomplished and satisfied and even decided to quit smoking. Maybe I want to stick around for a while, he thought. He threw the box of cigarettes in the trash can and went to work.
A man looks out of a window in the middle of the day. No one is around. Only a stray dog and some rose bushes. The man has the day off from his work at the library. He’s a clerk at a library downtown, but his passion is painting.
His painting style can best be described as a mixture of surrealism and abstract expressionism. Since he has the day off, he decides to paint.
What shall I paint? He wonders. Maybe “The Last Supper,” but post-modern in the city. No, I think I’ve seen that before, he says. Maybe a game of basketball at the park by a lake with a turquoise sunset? Perhaps.
Finally, he decides to paint a self-portrait. He paints himself sitting by a window, smoking a cigarette, with his bulldog Kafka. The sun is in the corner of the painting and is represented by a sunflower. The man is wearing a black-and-white shirt with blue jeans. He holds his bulldog with one hand. Kafka is wearing a pair of sunglasses. He titles the painting, “Self-Portrait with Bulldog, Kafka, and Sunglasses.”
When he finishes the painting, he has some soyrizo with beans, tortillas, and a glass of water. Then he rides his longboard to the Venice Boardwalk and tries to sell the painting.
At first, it’s rather slow and he only receives a couple general compliments. It’s a gorgeous day weather-wise, though, so he tries not to sweat it. Eventually, an English teacher approaches and kindly buys the painting for $150. He thanks her, repeatedly, and then skates back home.
Jose Hernandez Diaz is a 2017 NEA Poetry Fellow. He is from Southern California. His work appears in Bat City Review, The Cincinnati Review, Huizache, The Iowa Review, The Nation, The Progressive, Witness, and in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2011. His manuscript was a finalist for the 2018 Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize.