Sunday, April 17, 2016

Corrido De Toros

"I had read many books in which, when the author tried to convey it, he only produced a blur, and I decided that this was because either the author had never seen it clearly or at the moment of it, he had physically or mentally shut his eyes, as one might do if he saw a child that he could not possibly reach or aid, about to be struck by a train." E. Hemingway - Death in The Afternoon 1932

I have big shoes to fill if I want to tackle the subject of bullfighting. Hemingway polished his craft on this subject (the "it" in the statement above). I feel the same way about homelessness and poverty and romantic self-destruction and also jazz music. I feel most authors or musicians turn away before the dirty parts and that I, Oggy, did not turn away in time, or felt it more deeply than others. I'm not turned on by poverty or self-destruction but in a sense I am addicted to self-destructive romanticizing, ie: the editing of reality to fit a romantic notion. I am, in psychological parlance, most engaged when romanticizing or verbalizing reality, which I can often do at the same time. The second most actualization I experience is when I play solo guitar at 3am and imagine an audience of ghosts enjoying my work. But writing is actually a slight of hand where I tell you something I already know and pretend I only learned about it through the process of writing. At best, I don't pretend and actually do learn something at the same moment you do. That's magical, and, like jazz improvisation, is not rehearsed and the audience and artist share an experience. All live action performance/entertainment is like this and Hemingway's book is a good example of a stream of consciousness, plainly honest investigation of a subject with little or no censorship. Censorship irks me although I can appreciate that I have become intolerable to some so they would wish me to limit myself in one form or another to better accommodate their conventionality. Yes, I might try to use a bathroom instead of pissing and shitting in the street, but otherwise, this self-domestication isn't going to happen for any one's benefit. Maybe this is self defeating but there's a larger issue of being true to my nature. Oh, I fantasize that I will compromise for romantic reasons but that's actually the opposite of what really happens, which is compromise for economic or political reasons and romance gets tossed out with the rotting banana peels. But that's another story.

Hemingway accumulated many bullfighting experiences before trying to write about the subject. He says at one point, "...I was not able to write anything about it for five years— and I wish I would have waited ten." Well, Oggy isn't going to wait even five years. No. Because that would involve many more bullfights and since I don't live in Spain or Mexico City then how am I going to see the required hundreds of bullfights to gain my experience? Experience is another topic Hemingway explored, suggesting authors learn something like 75% more information about a topic than they intended to use. Why learn it if you don't use it, you ask? Because you do use it, but only in a peripheral way that can barely be noticed. But if you don't learn it then you can't even hint at it and the writing will be transparent and the work of a novice, like the enormous hack Paul Haggis writing scripts about an all-girl's prep academy and black female suburbanites being oppressed by corrupt cops. Yes, you will fool 40% of the idiot mouth-breathing public, and another 40% won't care and the final 20% will consider you beneath contempt, but that's the life of a Hollywood screenwriter.

What does Oggy know? I know very little of bullfighting, but I will get to that topic eventually. I know the story behind the story, or at least think I do. For instance, there was a generic, paint-by-numbers, a pro scumbag critic would use the word "hagiographic" biopic recently about another screenwriter named Dalton Trumbo. Did anyone see that movie? I'm in an anti-spoiler mood so I will not give any more details other than pointing out that Dalton Trumbo wrote a screenplay titled "The Brave One" which involves bullfighting. See, that's not a useful bit of trivia but "the story behind the story" is an important feature of that movie. So, we have Hemingway, Oggy, Dalton Trumbo, and bullfighting. You see how the details pile up when one spreads his research wide and shallow?

Semana Santa is widespread throughout the tropics and Mexico is no exception. I accidentally wound up in Antigua, Guatemala on Easter Sunday, and a few days later was in San Cristobal De Las Casas. These two cities, by the way, are premium cities, very high charm factor. Both are U.N. World Heritage Sites, but I'm not going to be Mr. Travel Guide so that's all the advice I'll give. Easter, it turns out, is also a popular fair week and I arrived in Mexico at the end of fair week, which started with a bullfight and would end with a bullfight. I attended a Nicaraguan Rodeo when I was drifting through Nicaragua, licking my wounds like a stabbed oxen. That essay has some personal references, but my opinion is treated justly, in a tempered manner, I think. Hemingway's Death in The Afternoon is actually a personal statement as well as a descriptive essay. Hemingway's opinion is framed as objective, but he's very subjective in his framework. It's tricky footwork but he qualifies much of his description with personal lacework. My Nicaraguan rodeo essay was an attempt to mimic Hemingway's dry style, and since I had not read any of Death in The Afternoon yet I was actually referring to The Sun Also Rises, which is written in first person, but dryly, as though Hemingway's protagonist is shell shocked. In a sense, my Nicaraguan rodeo essay also tells two stories, but one of the stories will have to be told by my biographer because I'm not going to reveal the details behind why I was adrift and despairing at the Nicaraguan rodeo. There can easily be some psychological connections drawn between the ugly dots of my life but let's not dwell on those right now.

Easter ends with bloodshed today as it did 2000 years ago. But in Nicaragua the bull was taunted and menaced but not harmed because the 40 Cordoba admission fee is not enough to pay for a bull in Nicaragua. They were capable of killing the bull, and they rode him with no hesitation, but Nicaragua is not so frivolous with bulls as to kill them for amusement. I was curious if Mexican bullfights actually involved bloodshed and death. So it was with some excitement that I bought a ticket to the bullfight in San Cristobal. The excitement was multiplied when I realized the fair was actually a huge area of the city devoted to carnival rides, two-headed chickens, a live Mermaid, sky drops, games of chance, a rifle range, fried tacos, cheap socks, mucha musica de Banda, goofy hats, crappy pizza and popcorn, peanuts, kids crying, roller coasters and more awesomeness. They had The Hurricane revolving ride from my youth and I predicted that Hurt so Good by John Cougar Mellencamp would be the first song but I was off by about 30 years and a lot of gray hair. Well, the fair did not disappoint, although I did not get a ring tossed around a bottle, not shoot the star completely, nor drop a softball in a bucket. My neck and heart and back injuries prevent me from going on any rides, but the bag of roasted peanuts was a fine consolation prize.

Soon, the telltale trumpet sounded from the nearby Plaza Del Toros and I bought a ticket. I passed a group of demonstrators who denounced the bullfight and had a large banner and signs and some gross photos and my suspicions about the level of violence I was about to see were slightly lowered. There were no demonstrators at the Nicaraguan rodeo but there were about 7 passionate demonstrators at the Mexican bullfight. All the demonstrators were Mexican, which is interesting since there is a large foreign population of 'spiritualists', but I guess protesting foreign blood sport traditions was not a priority. I felt a little guilty because I try to align myself with the underdog, the unconventional outsider, but on this occasion I was passing the minority and being herded into the Plaza along with many conformist men and women. I was conforming and it didn't feel good but I felt this was a necessary evil to learn and experience first hand that which Hemingway wrote so honestly about 84 years ago.

The arena was already full and I realized I had almost missed the opening event because my clock had been set to some Honduran time zone an hour earlier. There were two options for tickets "Sol" (350 pesos) or "Sombra" (450 pesos) which is "sun" or "shade". The day was partially cloudy when the games began so I had no problem saving some money and sitting in the uncovered area in the quarter near the bull run. The Nicaraguan rodeo had more waiting than action and more ear-splitting recorded music but this Mexican bullfighting immediately began with no recorded music, and lots of authentic live music from the opposite corner.

Now, my only first hand experience with bullfighting has been through movies. I never saw Trumbo's The Brave One, but I actually can't remember the film or television show that I have gained my mental idea of what happens at a bullfight from. I know that I have seen some images of bullfighting and the matador and the bull and the swords, etc. etc. but I think my first sexual awakening arrived when I snuck into see the movie Bolero in 1984 when it played at a local theater. I pretended I had to use the bathroom but instead ran into the balcony to watch Bolero. The movie stars Bo Derek on a quest to loser her virginity. Can you think of a better actress to test the sexuality of a 13 year old boy? Oh, the blonde hair and blue eyes almost compensated for Derek's Saturday cartoon acting ability.

Well, Bolero didn't teach me much about bullfighting or virginity but I soon knew I loved pornography!

Bolero was my first introduction to bullfighting and I thought it was invented for the plot of the movie, like Star Wars hyperdrive or the Cobra Kai dojo. Bullfighting, outside of Mexico and Spain, is actually a stereotype, it's a plot device. Even Hemingway completely exploits this tradition to his own devices. The Natural, also from 1984, and a movie I was expected to like, could be analyzed as bullfighting drama molded to baseball, but I don't want to do that analysis tonight. My point is that bullfighting, like warfare, is a dramatic device used to convey particular messages, or as a short cut for dramatic tension. Hemingway might be to blame for romanticizing this Easter tradition but I can't blame people like Trumbo and Bo Derek for falling into the trap. Bullfighting is indeed a spectacle of life and death, but if you have never been to a bullfight then your perception of it will already be tainted by the stereotypical drama that Hemingway himself attached to it. So, in a strange way, Hemingway is responsible for mystifying an already mystical tradition and he did so under the guise of " might be good to have a book about bullfighting in English and a serious book on such an unmoral subject may have some value." Well, that's a very brave remark but what really happened, because humanity is mostly mouth-breathing idiots, is that a generation of intellectuals decided bullfighting was 'sophisticated' simply because Hemingway had written a bunch of words about it. See? Hemingway was/is a popular writer so anything he wrote about became sophisticated purely by association. War, bullfighting, sports-fishing, shotguns, miscarriages, drinking, poverty, etc. These were Hemingway topics and they were universally accepted as sophisticated because Hemingway had devoted his time to writing about these topics. Never mind that no one actually read the books or had even investigated the topics on their own. No! They read the back of the Hemingway book and realized that, shit, Hemingway had written 300 pages on the topic of poor men fishing, so it must be sophisticated...and from that point on the mere mention of bullfighting became linked forever with sophistication. If there is a scene in a movie or book involving bullfighting then it is immediately accepted that there is something sophisticated going on, something that deals with large topics of "life and death". Of course, no one has ever been to a bullfight because they don't exist outside of Mexico and Spain, so why is this event any different from a little league baseball game or a tennis match or maybe a bowling tournament? It isn't any different, but there is a tradition and there are details that make it unique and Hemingway gets into those details after much pontificating on the sophisticated nature of bullfighting. Of course, some of bullfighting is indeed sophisticated, but the same can be said for washing cars and making shoes. The only thing that's unsophisticated is the person who thinks their life alone has a monopoly on sophistication.

Let me tell you what I saw: One matador rode in on a horse after the bull crowd applauded. . First, the matador carried long daggers attached to a kind of extension. It looks like a spear, but only the end foot or so is actually the dagger. The rest is the extension to hold. The matador stabbed these daggers into the neck and back of the bull when the matador rode close enough to reach the bull. The bull had already been stabbed with a barbed hook that was in his side before he even reached the arena, probably to get him angry before meeting the matador. I know this because I could see the barb sticking in the flesh. These bulls were all kept in concrete stables nearby and released with the hook buried in their sides. Then the matador on the horse followed them and began stabbing him with the daggers, that released from the extension and stayed dangling off the bull's hide. The blood soon began to, two, three, up to six and seven short daggers were stabbed into the bull's bleeding neck.

There are many details that Hemingway is correct to point out, but I do not want to repeat his explanations. The goal is definitely a spectacle and an athletic performance by both bull, matador and horse and other human associates who taunt and distract the bull with capes, and there is no doubt that the matadors and the audience both treated this tradition as a sophisticated art form long before Hemingway came along with his notebook to record and put his stamp of sophisticated approval on the tradition. Since it is an art form then it indeed deserves many pages written on the finer details but I am not an art historian. I want to explain what I saw and also what my reactions were and even why I had my reactions. And if I do this correctly, then you will either close your eyes to my words or you will symbiotically experience the bullfight through my eyes. Is there anything more that I can do as a writer?

I was initially withdrawn from the violence. I saw the daggers being thrust into the animal, and I saw the animal groan in pain. Yes, the bull is huge, 1400 pounds of anger and instinct and pride, but these daggers penetrate at least 2 inches into muscle and then dangle there tearing at the skin and hide while the bull is tormented into chasing the matador and other clowns around the arena. The bull tried desperately to get the daggers to release but they must have reverse barbs like fish hooks to cling to the flesh. So, let there be no delusion about the pain this animal endures. It wants to kill and it is angry and has a one-track mind, but it is also in mild shock so it feels the initial pain of the dagger and then it gets distracted and blocks the pain so it can attempt to kill. This seemed to be a pattern for the first 2/3 of the fight with one bull. The mounted matador circles the bull, sometimes for sport and suspense and sometimes authentically looking for the optimum window to stab the tender neck of the animal. And when the animal grows slightly tired and does not chase the matador quite as passionately that is when the group of 8 insane men leap over the arena walls and attempt to tackle the crazed dying bull with their bare hands.

Let me back up. I watched the first dagger impale the bull's neck with some detachment...thinking "maybe the bull is big and doesn't feel pain." such craziness. But after the fourth and fifth daggers, larger daggers, longer penetration, were driven into the back of the bull and the blood flowed thick and bright red on the bull's back, then I knew this was pure torture and torment for the bull. Even the bull began to gasp and sweat and froth at the mouth. The frothing also affected my companion who said, "The bull looks thirsty." Yes, the bull was thirsty and wanted to drink water and rest, was frothing from his wagging lips, bleeding from 6 long daggers in the back, tormented on all sides, surrounded by high walls, injured head and neck from trying to gore a wooden wall (that his horns splintered into the eyes of a matador), feeling mortally wounded but acting from pure instinct to survive this crazy situation. Maybe there is a metaphor for all of us being born and thrown into this insane world...fighting, mocked, tormented, mortally wounded but instinctively trying to survive. The bull is not a predator, but the object of the matadors is to turn the bull into a predator. The bull is a vegetarian and would prefer to sleep near a cool pond, munch on green grass, watch over his herd of pregnant cows. This is the bull's dream and deep desire but he must now fight to survive with these evil sharp daggers dangling from his bleeding neck. Yes, by 2/3 of the way through the first bull fight I found my face in my hands, hardly able to watch any more. The bull was frothing, looking for water or some comfort, panting, bleeding...blood pouring from many wounds in his neck until his whole side was covered with blood. If it stopped at this point there was a slight chance the bull could survive...maybe...but the spectacle would not stop, the bull was alone and desperate and was doomed. At this point I was grieving all my lost pets, the cats who died from cancer, the puppy who fell between the wharf planks and drowned in the ocean, the dog who attacked an old woman at the library and was executed by the state, the cat I once watched cut in half by a car wheel as it tried to cross the street. The hamsters who died of mysterious diseases. The guinea pig who died in the heating system. I thought of these animals and projected their lives onto this poor bull dying before my eyes. I had done nothing for those other animals, feeling my childish helplessness, the futility, the hopeless churning of the death machine, and I could do nothing now. Would I jump the fence and protect the bull with my back? Would that redeem my failures in the the past? Would the bull differentiate me from the others or would he simply gore me? There was nothing that could be done. The bull was thirsty, frothing from his open mouth, tongue covered with froth and wagging from his slack jaw, tired, exhausted, looking for cool water and grass, and was suddenly stabbed in the neck by a matador. The bull did not understand what was happening, only that it must try to survive. I mourned the bull before it was even dead. 

I appreciate animals on their own terms. Yes, animals are required to make my beloved Carnitas tacos that are so good you could name a pornstar after them, and Chicharron quesadillas (A mix of Maciza meat and fried pig skin) and the ultimate Arrachera tacos, which I have located again here in town and that rival the tacos of La Paz...but I do not kill animals for sport. Hunting Ibex or tigers or elephants is bad enough, but to put an animal in an arena and publicly torture it with sharp daggers while hundreds cheer is really rough to watch. I wouldn't tolerate someone torturing a cat or a dog or person in an arena, but I had to tolerate the bull's torture., the bloodbath never ends...then the men in costume gave a yell and leaped the fence in a trademark fashion. The wall is about 5'5 high and they all jumped up so their bellies were on the top of the fence and then they swung both their legs over at once. I had noticed these men when I was averting my eyes from the gore and bloodshed and blatant torture that was taking place in the center of the arena. I thought these men were assistants of the matador...but they were not, they were on their own mission.

I will not give you more video because I'm sure better video can be found elsewhere. Basically, once the bull has been tortured and is 2/3 of the way to the grave, these men, known as Forcados, actually from a Portuguese tradition of bullfighting all attempt to tackle the bull with their bare hands. This was a completely surprising element of this bullfight. In all my little memory of stylized bullfighting in movies and cartoons and books I had never seen or read about people who tried to tackle the bleeding enraged bull with their bare hands. Even in the Pamplona, Spain running of the bulls the people simply try to outrun the bulls. The bull's horns were not covered, nothing protected the Forcados. I don't know if this is considered a Mexican tradition now, or if it's an added Portuguese element, but it happened to all the bulls I watched die.

The men did not line up perpendicular to the bull, like in football, but in a straight line behind a single man at the point, who taunted the bull with his feet and gestures and voice. Maybe this lulls the bull into thinking he is facing only one man, instead of eight. The bull, having no cape to chase and also being bewildered, tormented, bleeding, exhausted, and confused often did not want to charge these Forcados. Why should he? They did not really pose any danger. They had not been the one sticking daggers in his neck. The bull had no ill will against all of humanity, only those who tortured and injured and maimed him, only his captors. So, the bull preferred to rest since the matador had paused in his dagger thrusts to let the Forcados approach the bull. But the bull also seemed to be learning the rules of the game and that he would be given an opportunity to gore someone, and maybe he should take it. Then his attention was distracted by a man with a cape so he turned to the cape, which vanished behind a barrier. Then he turned back to the Forcado, who is yelling at him...and finally he decides to charge because maybe it will lead to an end of the torment.

Yes, these 8 men, especially the 1st man await the bull and when they succeed in getting the bull to charge they then find out how brave they really are. I was baffled by what I saw because it seemed to be suicide. I'm sure the anticipation of the event is filled with bravado and confidence speak, but as Hemingway points out, you only really know what you are going to do when the bull is actually charging at you with an intention of killing you. All the pep talks at the corner Cantina will not help you. Your feet will do what they wish. The crazy thing is that the first person weighed around 138 pounds and I'll bet the bull barely even noticed the weight being thrown from his horns. He definitely didn't feel the pitiful human bones break beneath his huge hooves as he demolished the others.

Thrice, the bull charged and demolished the Forcados. Once, though, the Forcados succeeded in stopping and smothering the bull. They did not tackle the bull but they indeed stopped him and one man water skied around the area with the bull's tail as a rope. But even that attempt required two or three separated shoulders and cracked ribs.

The final 1/3 of the fight was less gruesome as the sword came out and the matador indeed slaughtered the bull. I forced myself to watch with open eyes, but was inwardly miserable at the death of this tortured bull. Like the whole "one shot, one kill" ethic of deer hunting, the matador takes this part of the fight seriously. The bull is injured mortally, will probably die on his own in an hour, but the object is to kill it immediately with one fatal slicing of the artery in the back of the neck as the bull stands. This is where the sharp longsword comes into play. The first matador killed the bull without much problem or drama. The bull did stumble to his knees, collapsed, tried to get up, groaned from his frothing bloody lips, and then plummeted to the bloody dirt where it was repeatedly stabbed in the twitching neck to ensure it was dead. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't emotional.

The second bull was the most dramatic, and I will concentrate on this bull. I will name this bull, because that might make it more compelling. I will name this bull Champion, because he had a champion's heart. Champion came out full of life, proud, light on his feet, like a prize fighter who has made his weight by a few ounces. Peak form. Champion actually gored a horse and I had video footage but it was not only too gruesome to post, but I got distracted when I stood up in shock and the camera turned from the action. The sun had come out and this is important because Hemingway says that the sun is as important as the matador. I was sweating and blinded and sincerely distraught as I watched the maimed horse limp away. How the fuck can they let the bull gore the horse? This demonstrates my innocence, because I had this romantic delusion that the bull and the horse were kin. Well, Champion did not ascribe to this romantic notion and chose to gore the horse because he correctly concluded the horse and the matador were conspiring against him. Kill the horse and the matador will be compromised, was Champ's reasoning. Well, there were other horses and soon Champ (you like how I gave him a nickname?) was being stabbed in the neck and back with long sharp daggers. Champ did not get smothered when the Forcados came out with their ridiculous elf hats. No, Champion threw the Forcados all over the arena, they fled, they ran, they were gored, three were seriously injured, they limped away like scared children who had been whipped by their mother. Champion took no shit from these Forcados. But the matador was another story and Champion could not kill the matador. I tell you, dear reader, that Champion's last movement was one of aggression to kill the matador. That was his dying desire. But the matador, I won't give him a name, was impressive. Really impressive...he drove the sword into Champion's neck on the first try and Champion knew he was done. Champ's front legs collapsed to the dust and he tried to get up...and that was when the matador actually dismounted in front of the stands and rushed at Champion on foot, unarmed, since the sword was in Champion's back. And here was Champion's last opportunity to kill the matador. See, the matador was truly unarmed and the horse had wandered off. If Champion could regain his strength and get his legs under him for one more charge, maybe ten more seconds of life, then he could sincerely kill or at least maul and maim and blind the matador. In Boxing, the rule is to go to a neutral corner when the opponent falls, but in bullfighting the matador can stand over the dying bill. I could see that Champion wanted to get up but his strength was failing. His frothy panting mouth groaned, his lips wagged, his knees were rubbery, blood rushed from the gaping wounds on his back. He tried to stand again but gravity pulled him down. The matador was doing this theatrical menacing of the dying Champion. The matador stomped his foot and stuck his chest out within feet of the dying Champion. Champion had not yet given up, had not yet laid his head down, and the matador was actually giving the impression by insisting with his body language that Champion should die. 
This is the image that closest reminds me of the moment the matador stood over Champion.

But it was also gracious, the matador was simply claiming dominance over the bull, which was true in these circumstances, and the matador was publicly demonstrating dominance and insisting, in language that the bull might understand, that death was imminent, that Champion had lost, and that Champion should simply die because there was no escape. Champion's big dark eyes desired to get up and kill the matador but his body was broken and he saw the hazy, far off reflection of cool water in the pond of his idle youth and could taste the sweet green grass again and he slipped into that dream world we're all destined to know. The crowd erupted in applause. His head fell to the dust. The matador stood within inches of the dying... dying... now dead bull, motionless, solemn, humble.
The sun set's on Champion's life

It was a truly singular moment. My mouth was slack and my camera dangled from the lanyard. My heart hurt and my tongue was dry. The matador willed Champion into death, and Champion indeed had laid his big head down and breathed his last breath. An assistant came out and stabbed Champion in the spinal cord and Champion's legs twitched. The dagger was thrust again and another twitch followed. Then the mule came to drag Champion's carcass to the butcher as the matador pranced and nodded to the crowd and gestured to the fair beauty queens. The third bull indeed had the tail or ear cut off and thrown into the crowd as a souvenir but Champion remained intact as he was dragged away and men came with wheelbarrows to clean up the bloody dirt.

The last bull was what Hemingway would call "a bad kill" because it took multiple ugly stabbings of the bull, multiple swords stuck in his back. The bull stopped charging, but wouldn't die. Two or three men with swords stabbed the bull's neck. He groaned and moaned and sweated and shit himself. It was a brutal killing with children booing and men throwing their hats and calling "Musica!" and the live band would play something and the bull's knees buckled as he tried to escape and he shit himself and piss and sweat poured from his exhausted belly. He didn't want to play anymore. He was sick of this shit. He tried to escape but the capes distracted him and he drove his horns into one cape and got another sharp sword deep in the neck, but he wouldn't die. It took a long time to kill him, to chase him down repeatedly. This was the bull that had been smothered by the Forcados, after he had mauled the first Forcado. This bull had actually groaned in pain when he tried to shake the man pulling his tail. Then he had to be stabbed many times by many swords to kill him. He collapsed and twitched when the final dagger went into his spine and the crowd booed.

I do not claim to know much about Bullfighting but as Hemingway wrote, "Let those who want to save the world if you can get to see it clear and as a whole. Then any part you make will represent the whole if it's made truly. The thing to do is work and learn to make it. No. It is not enough of a book, but still there were a few things to be said. There were a few practical things to be said."

I don't know if what I have written is practical. It will not help you in your daily jobs or with changing diapers and it is not a good recipe for lasagna or a good song to sing to a scared child, but this event was on my mind. 

I left the Plaza del Toros after the third bull was killed and his body was dragged through the dirt and his bloody ear was thrown to the crowd as the band played. People tossed his ear back and forth like a beach ball at a rock concert. There were 3 other bulls to be killed, perhaps without horses, who knows, and I was the only one leaving early but I felt that it was enough to have watched three bulls slaughtered before my eyes. Yes, it was enough for that day. My heart hurt like I had buried my own pet. The carnival was going on still and I could eat a crappy pizza slice or try to shoot a star with a BB gun or see the freaky Mexican goat with two deformed faces. My thoughts were with Champion grazing near his cool water pond, chewing green grass...already I had romanticized the gore. 

I tried to win a stuffed bear by throwing a plastic curtain hoop around a glass bottle. I hit the bottle top with a plink but the hoop fell to the ground where I saw a small child quietly picking up the hoops other were throwing and placing them in empty buckets. The boy had one maimed arm, maybe a birth defect and he did not look up. I missed again with the hoop and his one good arm darted out like a snake to get the hoop and place it in the bucket. I ate stale peanuts as the sun went down, watching couples walk around the late evening neon basked light.

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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.