Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Saturday, January 22, 2011

One Too Many

by Kim Farleigh

The bull charged at the novice’s pink cape, dipping its horns with each lunge, its back legs swinging at the end of each run to face the cape, mercury time slowing and sliding with each lunge in a slowed-down sensuality of silence, the cape hanging from the novice’s side then rising, the horns moving by, the bull’s legs swinging around, the cape rising, the horns moving by, black aggressiveness flashing past style, time quickening, quickening, then slowing and slowing, thoughtless enthusiasm flashing by.

The next novice placed the cape in front of her body, the bull staring, the bull’s chest rising and falling, its tail twitching like a broken electricity cable, the novice stepping to the bull’s left, the bull’s tongue hanging out, a bull howling like a tug-boat’s booming horn, the orchestra’s music accompanying this booming-tug-boat booming, the bull charging, the novice’s cape twirling away from the horns, the bull fresh, quick, and charging, the cape twirling away from the horns, the bull’s legs swinging around and then charging, the cape spiralling too soon, the novice’s body exposed, the horns catching her torso, the novice cartwheeling and hitting the sand, the elegance and delicacy, that had marked her previous command, now gone.

She hobbled as if she was stepping on electrified ground, a sudden contrasting with her previous style, the others carrying her off, the bull too fresh and quick to warrant this excelling before enthused strength, the rushing within rushed like the bull’s rushing.

The first novice prepared his cape, his suit shining in the arena’s lights, the apricot sky’s soft radiance having been surpassed by this artificial illumination.

The young man, with a killer’s efficiency, measured his moments to move the bull around, analysing correctly the right magnitude of endeavour to take for each new step, delicate in his suits of lights, holding out the cape that resembled an insect with a single wing that flew away with every lunge of the bull’s horns, the bull’s individuality expressed by its need to charge just as the bullfighter wanted to line him up with the sword, the bull unexpectedly attempting to kill before being killed, the bullfighter measuring the moment to plunge his steel blade into the bull’s flagging hide, the sword finding its target in the back of this difficult bull, man and bull stepping and leaping simultaneously in opposite directions as the sword found its target, the bull staggering and collapsing against the fence, the crowd waving white handkerchiefs to acknowledge the glory of the bullfighter’s calculation, the other novice slapping the infirmary’s wall and screaming: “Maldita sea! That bull was mine!”

The young man circled the ring, his right hand raised, the other hand clutching a rose, objects of appreciation being hurled down into the ring in his direction, the right hand acknowledging the fluttering, white fabrics of butterfly-wing appreciation that fluttered against autumnal forests of people’s brightly coloured clothes, the applause reaching the infirmary like clattering cans where the other novice was screaming: “One, stupid, silly mistake! Just one! Jeeeesuzzzz!”

People in the silent room were staring at the floor, immobile. Distant emptiness deadened their faces.

“Just one!” the novice howled.

She gripped her forehead, fingers digging into temples. She had worked so hard. She was technically better. She had had a greater future. Everybody had said that.

But one little error was one too many.

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