Fiction   Essays   Poetry  The Ten On Baseball Chapbooks In Memory

Stephenson Muret

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

Stephenson Muret lives in the United States.

  Home Contributors Past Issues Search   Links  Guidelines About Us

Subscribe to the Slow Trains newsletter