Monody for Matador
While shaving this morning I heard an obituary for the matador
killed yesterday in Mexico City's Plaza de Toros. In a radio interview,
the attending physician said that the man had been rendered brain-dead immediately.
I felt comfort from this as I remembered the images I'd seen on television
of the prolonged goring. The doctor, as the matador's friend and colleague,
had done what he could and had hoped for a miracle. They called it the worst
accident at the plaza in some sixty years.
I wiped the remaining shaving cream from my face and munched two apples and a
banana while donning my jeans and my shirt and my walking shoes.
I paid for tonight's stay at the front desk of the Hotel San Lorenzo, then
I walked to a nearby corner, and, boarding a city bus, asked the driver if
I was on the right one. He nodded. I rode with him and others through
the dawning heat to the Hermosillo bus station. I acquired a ticket
to Guaymas, where I now sit.
For an hour and a half en route I watched a black and white 1950s
Mexican comedy movie, talked a little to a man about the Yankees,
about the Braves, about Sammy Sosa. Then we disembarked, parted,
and I stepped out of the bus station's glass doors to witness
an old man accidentally drop a small octopus in the street.
He uttered a quiet oath. I wandered till I saw this cafe. Then
I wandered till I found the centro and my three sentences: that of the mountains,
that of the heat and the sea, and that of the cacti. I entered a small
restaurant where I consumed a dish of diced pork I'd never before
tasted and drank an horchata for the first time on this trip.
I thought about yesterday's beautiful little blue-dressed girl.
The one who sat on her papa's lap, her arm wrapped about his neck,
brushing doughnut crumbs out of his mustache. She kissed his cheek
repeatedly until finally he relented, giving her a peso for a candy.
That had been at the bus station at Navajoa. As I finished my meal
I awkwardly waved back to three school girls in plaid skirts
who were making eyes at my long güero hair. One mouthed "bye"
as they disappeared into my peripheral vision. Sitting there,
I saw then how I would scribble these words, and so I overtipped the waitress,
left the restaurant, strode the main street that I had strode already four
times to find again this cafe, to order a coffee from the pretty proprietress
and to sit here and scribble this.
I strolled back toward the bus station, realizing that with my three sentences
the spirit of this journey had passed, that my work, in essence, was complete.
I savored my stroll back to the bus station. As I approached,
I saw one of the enormous coaches crawling away from the boarding platforms.
Its destination placard proclaimed Hermosillo in bold green on white letters.
I dismissed the formality of the bus station itself, flagged down the coach,
boarded, paid the driver, and claimed a seat. I viewed the mountains from my
window. I noted how those closer to the highway seemed to move in relation
to those farther from it; how all of them were dramatic and precipitous.
I tried not to see the bad American action film playing loudly on the
television screen too near my head.
Once back at the Hermosillo station I checked the timetables
of several different bus lines for tomorrow's departures to Tijuana. After
another sweltering city bus trip, I bought a lime paleta
and suckled it in a plaza near the centro. I revisited the murals
that I discovered yesterday in the state building to marvel again at how twenty foot lines
of paint could seem like a single brushstroke. I considered Siqueiros,
and Rivera, and what it means to emulate the greats, or not to emulate them.
I fought the dust in the air with my tear-welling eyes and purchased
yet another cool refreshment, an agua de limón, in yet another plaza, and sat
and drank it. I ambled somewhat listlessly
in the heat until I found finally Hotel San Lorenzo where I sit right now
in room 210 scribbling this. I washed my hands and my face and my feet.
I gobbled some beans and salsa out of tins on tortillas. I quaffed some
grapefruit drink. I listened to an hour of the news on my favorite radio program,
Antena Radio. And then I turned off the radio so that I might write
these words. I wrote these words until I arrived at the period
that follows the end of this very sentence.
While shaving this morning, I heard an obituary for the matador killed yesterday
in Mexico City's Plaza de Toros. In a radio interview, a friend of his said
that they had planned to meet today for lunch. "A great man," he murmured.
The dead matador left three children, the youngest of whom is just three weeks old.
It was the plaza's worst accident, they said, in some sixty years.
I wiped the remaining shaving cream from my face. I thought about how this
day would not be his.
©2009 by Stephenson Muret