LOVE SONG 1 – by Luis Martín Ulloa. Translated from Spanish by Michael Langdon

Two young men board the bus with guitars, and after asking for permission from the driver, position themselves on either side of the aisle in order to begin performing.  One of them is more experienced, and he plays nimbly, all the while focusing his attention on the other young man, who struggles on several chords and falls behind. He makes a great effort to play accurately, but it’s hard for him. They finish the first piece, an instrumental that didn’t manage to attract much attention. The inexperienced youth begins the second song with a complicated intro. His companion studies the movement of his friend’s fingers on the strings until he gets through an especially difficult part. Then he directs a smile of approval at his humble hero.  Both smiling, they gaze at each other. The more agile player winks at the other and lightly purses his lips to blow him a scarcely perceptible kiss. They continue with their song, which turns out to be a bolero and not the rock song that some passengers were expecting.

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Luis Martín Ulloa teaches literature at the University of Guadalajara. He has published two collections of short stories, Damas y Caballeros and Personas (In)deseables.   

Michael Langdon teaches English at Chabot College in Hayward, California. His translations have been published in Queen Mob’s Teahouse, Your Impossible Voice, and Foglifter.