Short Stories 366:136 — “The Mariachi’s Serenade,” by Julian Lopez

coverAs much as I’m not generally a fan of horror, I do love a good ghost story. And this next tale, from Julian Lopez’s Cirque des Freaks and Other Tales of Horror, is a really good ghost story. It begins with Adrian bringing his boyfriend Tristan to meet his abuelita, Elena, and introductions turn to a bit of family history when Tristan mentions how he loves the way Elena says Adrian’s name, and Elena reveals Adrian was named for his grandfather’s youngest brother, Adriano. Oh, and he was involved with a man, and their family paid for the man to leave to America to make sure there was no scandal and Adriano tried to follow but the story ended in tragedy.

Needless to say, Adrian hadn’t heard this story before, and is a little shocked, but truly appreciates how welcoming and loving his abuelita is. They tour the city where Adrian once lived as a child, and then, at night, he hears a singer outside. What follows is the slow, teasing seduction: Adrian can feel the music this man sings deep in his soul, and in ways he never felt connected to his history or culture. And, of course, the man is beyond charming and beautiful, and asks him to follow him.

As it’s a horror story in a horror collection, you know things aren’t going to end well for everyone, but I really, really liked how Lopez set up the reader for a zig, and then ended on a zag. And I loved the story being so steeped in a specific time and place, and with music. Lopez does such a beautiful job in his descriptive writings, painting vividly the world around his characters, as well as the tone and cadences of sounds and scents of the city, the music, and the temptations of a connection from beyond.

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