Fishing For Eagles and Waiting For Liberty, continued

The bull was no problem, an ordinary bull. The North Americans paid for it.

In the evening there was music, played on a harp and a guitar, and a barrel of thick white drink, which foamed in the cup; the visitors from the U.S.A. came out to share it. They wore such clothes as faded blue denims, and they had silver jewelry. These people were young, or looked young, and rich, and in control of themselves. They were educated, some spoke Spanish, and they had clear eyes, and teeth so white they looked as if they had been sewn on out of white buttons. Everyone drank as much as they could.

One tourist, with a small droopy moustache, told stories of his life, sitting against some stone in the square as the pale moon rose. The way he told it, it seemed the best possible kind of life. He had escaped from some distant country when he was five years old. He'd made money with electronics. And now he lived with his conpanion, a slim young man, in his own house. He showed a picture of it, like a beautiful lighted ship riding the hills above San Francisco. A blond girl from California looked steadily and carefully at Guillermo, and then sang plaisir d'amour and then disappeared for a while with Guillermo's good looking cousin. They returned before dawn. Everyone slept for a while.

In the morning, early, before the heat, the abuela went to the ring with needle, thread and pliers.

The bull was boxed up next to the ring with part of its back exposed. The eagle had a blindfold on, which was like a black bag that came down over its head and tied around its neck. You could do anything with that eagle as long as it couldn't see. The abuela sewed the feet of the eagle onto the back of the bull, pulling the thick needle right through the bull's hide with the pliers. The bull jumped and kicked and moaned but it couldn't do anything. Some of the North American tourists went pale underneath their tans.

All around the ring were carts. People sat up on them on bales of hay and on chairs and on sacks of corn shucks. The children ran into the ring and out again. They jumped up on the fence posts to look at the stitching in the bull or even to touch its hot skin.

The ring was watered to keep down the dust. Everyone, including the visitors, was frightened. Everyone was dressed up in their best clothes, and clean, and a little bit crazy. Even the posts of the fence looked bent and the ground looked crooked.

It began at mid day. The musicians played for a while, on a harp, a guitar, drums and horns; and there was some dancing in the ring.

The bullfighter was named Atal. He was dressed all in white and he was barefoot. He was spotless, and perfect. The hood was taken off the eagle. Everyone got out of the ring except for Atal.

The eagle screamed and closed its claws into the back of the bull. There was a kick and a bellow from inside the box. The whole box seemed about to explode. The two catches at the front were opened.

The bull came running out with quick steps, like a heavy man dancing. Everyone took a big breath. The children jumped up and down. The bull seemed to have thin legs and its steps were a bit jumbled. The eagle sat on top of the black animal, and blinked. It spread its wings and screamed. The bull looked around to see who it might get, or who might be the boss. Atal stood moon-faced in the middle of the ring and held out a red and orange blanket. The bull charged at him.

The bull came really fast and went for the coloured blanket and past the man. Atal stood his ground. He slid the blanket off to one side of him, he made his arms extra long, and he looked like he was dreaming that he was safe. The bull missed him and turned around, skidding.

The eagle screamed and opened its wings, trying to lift the bull up into the air. The two front legs did seem to rise just a fraction off the ground. Then the beak flashed down onto the bull's shoulder and dug out a big piece. Pick at him, Guillermo's mother yelled, in a high cracked voice, make him feel it! Two lines of blood streamed down over the bull's side.

The bull tried for the man again and missed again. The eagle took another piece and then another. It would look around, move slowly, and then come down hard, flash down. The bull was moving its head wanting to get its horns into something, to gore and toss.

Atal worked his mouth up and down like a fish. His face was dreamy. He knew what he was doing. He stepped aside and the bull went on in a straight line and crashed into the fence. He led the bull into doing this over and over again.

The bull's shoulder muscles had weakened. His face was smeared with foam and blood and dirt. His head dropped, wobbled, and the abuela reached over and gave Atal his sword. tired bull

The bull had plenty of strength left in his legs at least. The bull and the eagle came right at the man, before he had time to get into the centre of the ring. Atal struck at the bull, aiming in front of the eagle's feet, and then jumped away. The bull staggered around. Die! a man yelled without restraint, die now! The sword shook in the air above the bull's shoulders. People pressed forward to see. Then the blood spurted out of his nostrils and he fell over heavily.

Guillermo came and cut loose the eagle, who wasn't hurt, just mussed, and who immediately flew away. The bull got roasted, and everyone ate some, the tourists too, and that was it, pretty good. Atal got the balls to eat, fried, and wrapped in a big tortilla. As he ate they kept sliding out the end.

The tourist people moved on. Maybe they went home. You might almost think they disappeared when they got down the track, so light they were, like people made of air.

A few days later the police arrived in a couple of jeeps. Red faced and choked with dust, they wanted to put at least one person in gaol. They were the sort that would put the world in prison if they could, and throw away the key. However, it was too much trouble.

The people said that there might or might not have been a festival somewhere around there, but they didn't know anything about it personally. Most people said they'd been away at the time. Probably such things never happened. They were hard working and serious people who didn't have time to enjoy themselves. All the mountains around and about were full of people, with old grudges and axes to grind, telling crazy stories. Most of the stories were lies. You could not believe any rumour you heard about what happened way off up here in the mountains, they advised the police.