the lost man chronicles
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fighting under the sun

I felt like a toreador this morning.

As I hooked the last button on my black fitted shirt, as I tautly pulled up my black knee-high dress socks and snuggly drew in my black belt; as I felt a comfortable pinch when fastening my trimly-cut black trousers and slipped my black tapered jacket around me, hugging at shoulders and wrapping my waist just right—I felt quite like a master matador getting dressed, calmly contemplating fate before him, anticipating so many things he has experienced before, but which with the roar of the encircling crowd make it all sound and seem anew.

A slew of empathy ran through me as I lost myself to the black figure swallowed in the mirror. I imagined the following sentiments in turn:

The proud thrill of lofting stiff hand gestures at fans; the sudden stop of the pan as my whole being hones in on a certain señorita, my brows narrowing to focus an insouciant glare on her, as she coyly flirts with me with a fluttering of long lashes. And I, in return, offer a subtle brindis with a discreet genuflection and a bow;

My swaggering entrée, each step as stately as a champion horse’s canter;

The moment the paso doble ends, if only for me, and I enter the zone, the harrowing narrow pass, my Strait of Messia, which I navigate alone until the very end.

The slow-motion sweep of my first elegant pass, the baton of my muleta, a turn of merely my arm which swaths a perfect 180 degrees across the horizon;

Imperceptible from afar, the small bead of sweat that falls from the firmly pressing brim of mi montera and runs down my temple, reminding me that I am indeed fighting under the sun.

The lithe enveloping vacuum of the whoosh away with a derechazo from the waist, and the slow blink of pride, the only time my eyes ever close, shutting for merely a second as the gut-gouging horns pass at my side and I know I am safe, if only for the moment, once again;

The gritty feel and the powdery dry smell of the arena as it rises and smells sweet in the wake of the notorious El Catedral, a thousand pounds of raw, malignant force that barely misses me;

The haughty nod to the bandailleros and the horsemen, los picadores who envy me, because I know how it feels to be in their saddle, admiring the maestros as I worked my way up—desde novillero hasta matador;

The serrated edge of that moment when fear encroaches, but I batter it down with the confidence that is crucial to making decisive split-second motions, the kinesthetic intuition one is doomed without;

The memory of the famous fight when I did not have to flamear even once, because el toro’s y el torero’s belligerent instincts were sanctimoniously in sync—from the very moment the gate was opened and his eyes met mine as I stood await a los medios, al centro del anillo y del destino where we each vied to wield the fate of the other—for we both knew this was to be the lidia of all lidias, a fight to the bitter end, one which was bound to kill the one or the other, with each opponent having an equal opportunity to do so.

The flash of fear forward to the operating table of the enfermeria, where, lying down, the unlucky ones bid their despidas, their final farewells from the bellows of disgrace.

The repressed smile unseen, but all too rightly felt, as my proud eyes gleamed with delight after una estaturio, a statuesque pass that silences the crowd in awe, which then suddenly—bursts into grand aplausos de “Bravo!”;

Subsequently, my riled instinct goads me to attempt a farol next, a fancy two-handed pass over my head, but instead I forgo the élan to maintain a distinguished air and allure of gravitas and precision—for I can hear the patrons saying proudly, “Si senor, you have just witnessed a maestro in action.”

The sudden ping pushing me beyond the fear of facing el Minatour, when encouraging words suddenly come back to me, appearing as a spirit from beyond, the resonating advice of the old man, el Gitano who taught me everything that the alternativa could not convey;

The moment of creative anxiety when I dig deeply into my imagination, aiming to surpass the litany of fancy passes I have executed with great fanfare and the past—el Mirado al publico, el kikiriki, la larga cambiada, la ganon, de frente por atras—and which alas, have brought me to this moment of anxious searching for just one more;

The pity, as the arrastre de mulas pull the dead bull away, its limp cola swirling like a snake in the sand of its wake—and the accompanying memory of the stake, la descabella, and the last breath, that sigh of death which the bull snorts in retort to my divine precision—and once again, my rendering fills me with the feeling that I have the power of God;

And the serene moment of peace and accomplishment after the fall of the Minatour—and our tempestuous fight is over.

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