Gutierrez was an old man who repaired musical instruments in a little shop with space as tight as a sailboat. He loved his work and told his friends that if there wasn’t anything else to do, he would just as soon work. At night the mandolins and guitars laying filleted on workbenches in his shop often spoke to him.
“Keep us as you might keep a friend who has betrayed you but who needs you. ”
Gutierrez paid no attention. Or tried not to. It was difficult enough, this piecing together of split backs and sprung soundboards. Character leaves and returns to mended instruments, different and the same. It was his job to lure it back, even seduce it back, without making it pay too harshly for the privilege.
“Do you dream of soft nights in Mexico? Of Francesca? Of your children?”
“What do you know of children?” Gutierrez scowled. “They grow from your side and then they are gone. It is the way of things.”
As he tightened the clamps along the sides of an aged violin, one by one the instruments began to sing to him. First the mandolins, then the odd harp guitar and finally the chorus rising in the cellos and violas.
“Yo el amor
Yo el amor
Tristesa y soledad ya mi Corazon”
“Why do you torment me? What must I do to buy your silence? Yes, yes, I am lonely and without love. I had love once and that is enough.”
Gutierrez picked up the harp guitar and began to sing with them. The creases under his eyes softened with his tears as the evening sky reddened towards sunset above his shop.
Sighing deeply, he took his coat from the hook, locked up the shop and began walking towards the beach. He knew he needed the instruments as much as they needed him. It was a fair trade for an old man, he thought.