By TAK Erzinger
Mamí used to tell me, “Me amoraré in Papí because of his guitar skills.” I sometimes try to imagine their first encounter: Papí haloed by a cloud of smoke, his fingers strumming out Santana: Mamí, one of the braless groupies, eyes erect and pinned on his face.
Mostly he played in the evening next to the fireplace to calm the mood down, but if they had a party, he would pull in an audience, and Mamí’s stoned face would set alight. He would only play her requested songs.
I’d often lie on the floor next to him watching his closed eyes and the movement of his hands; usually, towards the end of his set, he’d play a song that I knew, and I would sing with him. We’d harmonize, our voices chasing each other like butterflies. Mamí would fall asleep.
At the beach house, he’d call her to the balcony and croon, “Where’s my ‘Black Magic Woman’?” Mamí would shake her hips from side to side, joint already lit in her lips. She would roll up next to him like the waves on the shore below.
“Ayyyee, everyone knows Papí loves his guitar best,” I said once. Papí corrected me and told me he loved Mamí more, it was just instrumental to their history.
The day she broke his guitar, I watched him cry. Not long after, she left. We lost our house and had to move in with my tía. I miss the fireplace and its stage-like glow, and Papí never sings or plays anymore. He keeps the repaired guitar in the closet.
Last night, the closet had been emptied. He came home smelling of drink and had a pocket full of cash. “She always said I was the creative type,” he slurred.
I wanted to scream, that wasn’t how she meant it, but Tía wrapped her arms around me stifling my voice.