The Short Humour Site

Home : Writers' Showcase : Submission Guidelines : A Man of a Few More Words : Links

A Man of a Few More Words - by Swan Morrison

El Torero

Manuel Espadachín Torero strode proudly into the arena. He glanced at the terraced seating from which, as a child, he had gasped at the skill and bravery of his grandfather. Abuelito would taunt his bull and then deftly, at the final moment, avoid the path of the charging, enraged animal - flamboyantly swirling his cape, pass after pass, until the great beast was exhausted. His sword would then be thrust with surgical precision into the heart of the brave creature.

Manuel recalled the roar of the crowd, a turbulent sea of their waving white handkerchiefs and gracious acceptance by his grandfather of ears and tail cut from the noble vanquished.

He also remembered discontent, even then, from those who viewed this spectacle as a cruel and unnecessary part of Spanish culture. With time, those voices became louder until, with his father as matador, the final act of the historic art form was played out at a slaughterhouse away from public view.

From this small compromise, emboldened reformers drove even more rapid and radical change. Soon bulls could no longer be killed or even injured. The task of the picadores, banderilleros and matadors became to ensure the enjoyment of animals by offering favourite foods or ensuring they were comfortably shaded.

Further concerns were raised, however, by the tragic death of Manuel’s father - fatally gored while giving a relaxing shoulder massage to a particularly tense Toro Bravo. It was feared that the creature might realise it had caused death and suffer irreparable psychological damage.

As an emergency measure, Jersey Meadows, Cattle Psychologist to the Stars, was flown from Hollywood to ensure expert treatment should the poor creature exhibit signs of Bovine Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Clearly, however, a new species of animal was needed that was totally safe and whose happiness could be precisely gauged.

The Ragdoll cat was the unmistakable choice. Large and placid, these beautiful felines possess an unusual vocal range. Many incremental degrees of pleasure can be discerned, ranging from a relaxed meow of contentment to the dynamic purr of ecstasy – the goal of the modern contest.

So it was that Manuel sat in the raised armchair at the centre of the Plaza de Gatos. He summoned a banderilleo to bring Muffin, the Ragdoll cat, and place her on his lap.

Reformers had taught that traditional bullfighting skills translated exactly to cat stroking – quickness of mind; awareness of a creature’s mood and body language; rapid and precise hand and body movements. Such expertise, passed down three generations, soon led to purrs of contentment echoing from the public address system.

Finally, Manuel judged his opportunity: Stroking behind Muffin’s ears combined with gently scratching her back led to the unmistakable Purr of Ecstasy. Manuel had again triumphed.

But where was the roar of the crowd, recalled from childhood? The vast rows of seating were empty but for a few sleeping individuals who remained unrousable following yet another recent comeback concert by an ageing rock band.

Perhaps the underlying skills and expertise practised by Manuel were the same as had been exhibited by his grandfather. Nevertheless, he retained a feeling that, in the politically correct modernisation of the tradition, something, somehow, had been lost.