Fishing For Eagles and Waiting For Liberty, continued
The bull was no problem, an ordinary bull. The North Americans paid
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,
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.
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
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.