Tiago: It has to be this weekend. After that, Luis is traveling for work.
Rick: It's too soon! We’ll never find a chalet this quick.
Manu: It doesn’t have to be a chalet, as long as we’re together. We could go camping.
Tiago: Bruh, this is Luis’ bachelor party. We may never get to see El Diablo again. Come on, he deserves better.
Manu: Exactly! Luis’ bachelor, not yours, and Luis likes camping. There is a secluded island not far from here, where we camped with the girls last year. It’s a great spot.
Rick: Getting shitfaced and singing El Mariachi around the campfire…I’m in!
Tiago: I was thinking of sipping champaign in a limo…You know, proper bachelor shit.
Manu: We can do both. This way Luis has fun, we get to say goodbye to El Diablo, and you can instagram your fancy ass in a limo. Happy?
Tiago: Deal. Brad and Adama voted in for the limo. Anyway, Manu, you organize the camping. I’ll take care of the rest.
Manu: Nice! I’ll bring the guitar.
Manu's idea was simple: to repeat last year camping trip, with more booze and no limits. They would drive to the camping ground, leave the cars there, and cross to the island. Rick created a whatsapp group and listed the essentials for two days in the wild. That included sleeping gear, cooking accessories, food, liquor, and ridiculous amounts of beer.
For a couple of years, Manu’s apartment served as the boys’ headquarters. They gambled with Cubilete—a Mexican drinking game—played music, and partied until morning. Manu was a good host and a better entertainer. He knew all classic songs, and the boys accompanied his guitar with loud, out of tune singing. Manu's guitar brought everybody together. It was the group's foundation, the eternal totem.
On Friday afternoon, the six friends drove an hour north of Montreal to meet at Manu's camping ground. It was closed. They left the cars in front of the gates and continued on foot. Everyone had their gear, supplies, and personal extras. Manu led the way through the woods. Half an hour later, scratched and sweaty, they paused for the first beer break.
Clouds of mosquitoes swarmed their flesh. Brad complained about the bites and Tiago about the planning. They fled the mosquitoes and finished their beers on the way. By mid afternoon, and two pints down, they had reached crossing passage to the island.
Tiago: What now?
Manu: Now, we cross.
Luis: Manu, is it the same island we camped in with the girls?
Manu: Yes, that was the plan.
Luis: We camped in April, when the ice was starting to melt. Look at the water now.
Brad: Did anyone bring a rope?
Tiago: It was not on the list.
Manu: I’ll try to cross. Hold my beer.
The water was about knee high. Manu took off his boots and rolled up his pants. He stepped in and lost his balance. The current was too strong. It was barely possible with a canoe, let alone a rope. Manu had planned the entire bachelor party around a false assumption, and without a B plan.
Tiago: Manu, thank you for your collaboration. You can stop making decisions now.
Luis: It's getting late.
Brad: We need a fire or we'll get raped by mosquitoes.
Rick: Let's continue along the river, until we find a place to stay.
They walked in single file and good spirits. Rick led the troop. Brad smoked joint after joint to drive the mosquitoes away. Tiago argued that alcohol was more effective, and they all drank and smoked as they walked. They had consistently failed at everything they planned except getting drunk. Rick spotted a flat little lawn ahead.
The lawn looked like a putting green, neat and perfectly mowed. The boys dropped their loads and indulged another break. The sun was setting. Fatigue and drunkenness kicked in. Tiago made the first suggestion.
Tiago: We'll never find a better spot.
Brad: Guys! This is a private property.
Adama: We'll just say we did not know.
Luis: Unless you wanna sleep in the car, we have nothing else.
Tiago: Yeah man, the plan was to walk half an hour, not hike for a day!
Manu: Fuck it! Do whatever you want.
Rick: Brad is right. We’ll get in trouble if we stay here.
Adama: There is nobody. And how much trouble can we really get in? If someone comes, we'll just pretend we didn't know.
Luis: I’m pretty tired too. Look there is a firepit, even wood!
Brad: This is obviously someone’s house but okay…A la zob!
There was a stack of chopped wood and six tree trunks around the firepit, neatly cut as stools. Tiago said it was a sign, and the company settled on that lawn. They pitched their tents, took out the gear, and continued drinking. Rick started the fire, Brad lit another spliff, and Adama grilled the steaks. They were set for an epic night.
By nightfall, everybody was drunk. In the strong fire, the first glimpse of El Diablo flashed in Luis' eyes. He began making mean jokes and speaking fast. Luis mocked, in pure El Diablo's fashion, anyone he laid his eyes on. The meaner the joke, the funnier he got. Tiago and Adama clapped and howled in drunken euphoria. He hopped around the fire, hit his shins against the stools, cursed, dropped his beer, and froze.
Brad: El Diablo in all his splendour!
Adama: What happened?
Luis: I stepped on the guitar.
Manu: Fuck man, watch out!
Luis: Don't worry. Everything is under control. The guitar is fine. I am fine. Carry on, nothing to see here.
Manu: Take it out of the way.
El Diablo moved the guitar and resumed his show. Adama challenged him to jump over the fire, and everyone else cheered. El Diablo bragged that he is immune to fire. Rick jumped on the occasion and fueled the fire with more logs. The hearth doubled in size. Tiago and Manu teased El Diablo about his coming marriage, the loss of his youth, and his long-gone glory. El Diablo, a former elite gymnast, raised the challenge. He announced, proud and loud, that he would not only jump over the fire, but he would perform a mid-air side split. The boys, all excited, punctuated with "oooooooooooooh". They began chanting, "Diablo!", "Diablo!", "Diablo!". They yelled and clapped and filled El Diablo with drunken enthusiasm.
El Diablo saluted the crowd in a professional, perfectly executed, gymnast bow. He stepped back slowly, then raised both his hands and accelerated towards the fire. Sprinting, he stepped on a boulder and propelled himself high in the air, and did a side split above the fire. Time slowed down. He landed far across the fire in a loud “BANG!”, right on Manu's guitar. The wood splintered around his leg. He wore the guitar like a slipper. Everyone stared in admirative silence. Manu's eyes popped out in horror. He opened his mouth but could not speak.
El Diablo: Uh-uh
Tiago: Don't worry man. It was not that good...always out of tune.
Tiago: Hahahaha pinche Diablo!
El Diablo: Hahahahahahhaha
Rick: Hahahahhaha poor guitar
Brad: Poor Manu
El Diablo extirped his foot and left the guitar broken in twisted agony. The boys, drunk and euphoric, mocked the poor Manu in his lonely sorrow. To make amends, Rick spoke first.
Rick: Let's never forget...that Manu's guitar...pure and innocent, bringer of joy and love...was soiled and destroyed, by the one and only...El Diablo!!!
El Diablo bowed gracefully, and all laughter started again, wilder this time. Rick spilled his beer on the guitar and drank. The rest of the group did the same. Manu carried the broken thing into the fire. The flames licked the smooth mahogany, turning amber to black. The boys celebrated the life and death of the guitar. They hugged Manu and whispered words of wisdom and nonsense. Manu watched, in sad silence, a part of him burn in the flames. The guitar died, straight and proud in the pyre, and with its ashes vanished the boys' bachelor era.
Luis got married. Manu got a new guitar. And El Diablo was never seen again.