"Andy, would you come up to my office for a minute?” I ripped off the broken E string and strapped the violin in its case. My instincts told me to be on guard, but what can you say when your boss makes a direct request? A decade older than I, he was more an uncle than an employer. “No problem, Rolando.” Being called in was never a good sign. Usually it meant that Rolando needed a special favor. Even if he was willing to pay for it, the time/money ratio never worked out in my favor. Occasionally I’d resolved not to let Rolando Díaz get the best of me, but the results always backfired. I felt guilty if I didn’t do what he asked because I was indebted to him. Years earlier, he’d hired me to play at Noche Azul Restaurant even though I didn’t know enough mariachi arrangements to pull my weight. By now the restaurant was home. “Take a load off,” Rolando told me as he sat at the round table that dominated the room. "Want a brandy?” “All right,” I said cautiously as I sat across from him. For small favors he bribed me with beer. “Did everything go well tonight?” he asked. “Things went fine until that drunk insisted on singing with us,” I said. “The crowd loved him,” Rolando continued. "His friends loved him. Everyone else whipped out cell phones so they wouldn’t have to listen.” “Lighten up, Andy. You take everything too seriously.” “He forgot the last verse of ‘El moro de Cumpas.’” I always told myself not to be too critical, but I couldn't manage it. I tipped my glass towards Rolando. “You didn’t call me up here to ask about tonight’s performance.” Rolando drained his shot and poured another. “You're right, Andy. I need to ask you a favor. I want you to keep an eye on my wife.” The metal sundials on my traje jingled as I lost my balance and nearly fell from the chair. Yiolanda strutted through Noche Azul in such skintight clothing that I was afraid she might stop breathing. Every night I kept an eye on her even though I promised myself not to. So many men fell at her feet that I didn’t want to get trampled in the crowd. "Why can't you keep an eye on her yourself?" Rolando rotated his shot glass. Then he smiled.
In Tucson, you can find copies at Mostly Books or Clues Unlimited.