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••• The International Writers Magazine - 22 Years on-line - Dreamscapes Stories

• Kim Farleigh
An educated bull story

bull fight

The horns waved wildly, red less interesting for the bull than its aggression suggested, not attacking from misplaced belief, but from strange knowledge, the crowd murmuring when realising that something was amiss. 

The bullfighter thrust the cape forwards, yelling: “Bastard!”  

The bull lunged at the cape, swinging its head suddenly to the right to attack the man, the crowd crying: “Woooooooo!” the background silence now a conduit for astonishment. 

An old man said: “His insurance company must be worried.”  

A journalist said: “Clever bull.” 

“So clever, it’s been to school,” his friend replied. 

The bullfighter hissed into an assistant’s ear: “If I survive, my next victim will have two legs instead of the usual four.” 

Surrender was unthinkable. All challenges had to be met. 

“Come on, bastard,” he screamed. “Charge!” 

The charging bull’s head flailed, horns imitating barrels spraying bullets in different directions. The man, lifted by a horn, bounced on the bull’s head, as if the bull was playing football, the man landing on his feet, the bull ploughing its horns into fallen red. 

The bullfighter glared up at the President’s box where the bull’s breeder was sitting. 

Great stuff, the old man thought, referring to that glaring at the breeder who lashed into his phone: “What’s going on?” 

“What do you mean?” one of his staff replied. 

“What do I mean?! Where are you?” 

“In the pens.” 

“Look what’s happening in the ring.” 

The crowd’s murmuring enhanced the matador’s salient loneliness on that huge disk of sand.  

“Kill it now,” the journalist said, “or else……..” 

The bullfighter yelled: “Vamos, toro. Venga. Vamos.” 

The bullfighter placed red near the bull’s eyes, closing down fields of vision, drawing the bull forward, sweeping the cape over the bull’s horns, spinning the bull around, kneeling before the bull’s face and screaming: “Your breeder is a bastard!” 

The bullfighter, dropping the cape, defiantly exposed his body, the bull’s eyes of pearly interest gripped by the eccentric fury of the beast that had three airborne limbs, and two earthbound equivalents, that had shed red, the bullfighter rising and turning away, throwing up his right arm with smug contentment in a bitter act of triumph, the bull indifferent towards this self-adoration, its tails swinging without conscious intention, the excitement pulsating in its body channelled out through that jumping, swaying cable of natural rope, its back legs shifting from one place to another and then back again as its eyes shifted from the bullfighter’s legs to the cape and then back again, its tail flicking, swinging, leaping, the matador shuffling forward, his cape going forward, red advancing towards black and red, the second red painted down the bull’s flanks from where the banderillas had pierced black hide, the bull charging, its head’s waving increasing danger, a bull beyond correcting, too knowledgeable to be moulded into steadiness by cape wizardry, the cape turning, and turning, that waving head turning with turning red, the crowd gasping at this audacious disregard for unpredictable threat by a man who was turning anger into performance, the bull stopping as the cape stopped, the bullfighter placing his sword’s tip on the bull’s snout before turning away, the previously dense silence cracking apart as roaring, waterfall-like cheering shattered that quietude with a flood of adulation. 

The bullfighter swept his right arm up with a proud satisfaction that the onlookers knew was justified, the bullfighter fighting forces he felt had been gathered illegally against him, courage inflamed by moral purpose, the bull watching that matador’s crystal-dotted suit glistening against crowd-clothing colours that made a cubist patchwork of three hundred and sixty degrees around a vast circle of sand upon which a lone man was yelling: “Yesssssz!!!” without being heard because of the cascading appreciation that he had inspired. 

“Most bullfighters would have already killed it,” the journalist said, “to escape unnecessary danger. He’s letting us know he’s got heart.”   

“The calculating madness of youthful ambition,” his friend replied. 

The friend, absorbed by the moral beauty inherent in the bullfighter’s livid temerity, felt released from his own weaknesses by what he had just seen. 

Einstein, you must die now, the matador thought, for knowing too much. 

He hated that “cheating” bull: it symbolised hate towards him. It wanted to ruin his dreams. It was an insult to his sense of destiny. 

Some bastard, the matador thought, wants me dead. We`ll see about that. 

The breeder, feeling the matador’s eyes on him longer than was normal for comfort, had unwittingly inspired a revenge banquet. All those who had ever doubted the bullfighter flooded into the matador’s mind. He was going to “kill” them all with one thrust into a “cheating, bastard” bull. 

Rising onto his toes, he became a hominid insect with a steel probiscis. But the bull, not interested in being told when to die, charged unexpectedly, the matador, not having finished his preparations, stepping away. When the sword rose again, the bull charged once more, trying to kill before being killed, strangely aware, the young bullfighter learning that the unexpected must be expected, the bull, turning its head when receiving the sword, catching the matador on the thigh with a horn, the wincing bullfighter jumping with the jolt of that jab, the bull bouncing on his feet, trying to shake off a sword impossible to shake off, blood shooting from the bull’s mouth with each pump of its heart, the grimacing bullfighter singing into the bull’s face: “Die bastard!” 

The bull lunged forward a final time, the bruised bullfighter scurrying away, the bull collapsing nose first, four rigid bull legs left horizontal to sand.   

The crowd, waving white handkerchiefs, like butterflies fluttering over cubism, demanded that the President of the corrida acknowledge a fine performance by allowing the bullfighter to cut an ear off the bull, the breeder saying: “Please, give it to him.” 

The President’s white cloth fell over his box’s balustrade, the crowd’s roaring going up in a multi-decibel increase, the bullfighter screaming: “No one’s going to stop me. NO ONE!” 

Bullfighters and the ring’s staff separated the bullfighter from the breeder when the two met in the infirmary. 

“I didn’t know,” the breeder cried, through a mangrove of arms. 

The bullfighter’s eyes burnt like smouldering mahogany. 

“Tell the bastard who did it,” the bullfighter yelled, “that no one’s going to stop me. NO ONE!” 

“I want to know as well,” the breeder said. “Do you think I want to be thrown out of business?” 

“It was someone in your family. You’ve got twenty-four hours to find out or I talk.” 

The bullfighter glared, his right thigh bandaged. He had been lucky. The horn had just missed an artery. 

The bullfighter’s manager followed the breeder outside. When the manager came back into the infirmary he said: “I told him we won’t talk if he guarantees it doesn’t happen again. He’s as shocked about this as we are.” 

The bullfighter said: “When I was screaming at the bull, I was screaming at him.” 

The breeder got into his car, thinking: Javier. He’s got more imagination than brains. But he’s a good kid. Noble and as loyal as a lion. 

The breeder got all his staff together the following day. 

“It’s now not important what happened,” he said, “because it’s never going to happen again–ever. If any of you want to fight bulls–fine; but keep it out of business. You will ruin your lives if you mix this with business. Okay?” 

“Si, si.” 

The breeder added: “I’ve done stupid things, too. I was no angel myself–when I was young. I did too many stupid things to mention. Then I started getting pleasure from not allowing whims to affect judgement. You will, too. Okay?” 

Everyone said: “Yes.” 

“And,” the breeder added, “never mock another man’s ambitions. Never. Have you got that?” 

“Si, si.” 

Javier had climbed over a fence one night to fight the bull, educating it to the point of extreme danger, while imagining himself as Belmonte. The cape had got caught up in the bull’s horns. He made it over the fence in time, the bull cracking the fence’s boards with its horns, splinters flying. He crept over the fence later to get the cape. That bull had learnt that capes don’t control themselves.     

The breeder’s heart soared on gratitude’s wings two weeks later when the bullfighter raised his hat to him from the ring’s centre after the bullfighter had killed one of the breeder’s courageous bulls that had run in straight lines, no greater plaudit for a breeder than that. 

“It was like a wound clearing up,” the breeder said. “Like getting reprieved from a crime I hadn’t committed. My head felt like it was flying. I could have been wiped out because of Javier. It was that close. We got lucky. Let’s never forget that. Never.”  

© Kim Farleigh - January 2021

Ed Note: This is a story. No approval of bull fighting is implied by this story.

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