by Joseph Grant

As the boisterous roar of the arena dissolved into an reverent silence, the matador having just performed a flawless veronica with a swirl of his red cape, now held the crowd and his sword firmly in his grasp, the sun glinting off the sharp tip of the blade, dressed in his elegant and colorful traje de luces, he pointed the rapier towards his enraged adversary, a massive bull weighing in at 575 kilograms and for all present, the moment of truth had finally arrived. In anticipation of the kill, the torero shifted his weight from one leg to the other and tried to shrug off the bad omen of the poor performance of the novillero before him who had missed his mark, much to the contempt of the crowd and he hoped that he could strike the bull cleanly and not leave the gritty terracotta littered with blood from one wailing animal and debris and seat cushions from the other; the disapproving crowd. Oven-like heat wavered off of the sand under the sweltering noon-day sun as a single, cool rivulet of perspiration trickled down his cheek, while the only movement to be observed above the sunburst painted wall that ran the length of the entire stadium was that of the vendors incessantly on the run, hocking clinking bottles of Corona for 2 pesos apiece to a crowd already on the collective edge of their seat. The matador stood stone-still like one of the weather-beaten statues in the ancient cobblestoned plaza, waiting for the right moment to finish this macabre dance and noted the brilliant crimson froth at the bull’s nose and mouth, the dark wet matting of the fur on the animal’s neck and back where it had been lanced by the banderilleros and picadors and he listened in wonder as the only sound to be heard was the almost locomotive and mechanical breathing of the frightful black specter in from of him. He thought of how the ancient people of the region believed the bull to be the devil incarnate and empathized with them as it glowered back at him with fiery red eyes, sputum oozing from its gaping maw, possessed horns that could readily gore a man and how the town sent only its bravest to face death in this primeval gladiatorial tradition borne out of fear, praised by victory and marred by tragedy. As the two lives came together in the finality of the inevitable moment, the somberness of the age-old ritual was torn asunder, not by the bull suddenly charging or the matador losing his nerve but by the lone voice of an American woman shouting at him from the stands: “If you kill that bull, you’re an asshole!”


Joseph Grant, whose full catalog is here, has been published in over 55 literary reviews and e-zines, such as Byline, New Authors Journal, Howling Moon Press, Hack Writers, New Online Review, Indite Circle and Cerebral Catalyst.