The Man Also Rises
“Tell me, old man,” I said, “what is this thing with the nude girls of the Pamplona run.”
The old man looked at me and looked at the drunk, slumped in the dust against the wall of the bar.
“My throat is dry,” he said.
I poured him a tinto.
“This tinto is good, he said. “It is rough and it is strong, the way a tinto should be.”
“The girls,” I said.
“This thing with the nude girls of Pamplona,” he said. “It is a good thing. When you rise at dawn, and the sky is streaked, and the coffee is good and strong and the eggs are done the way you like them. And you eat before you set out to run before the girls. That is a good thing.”
“Tell me about the girls,” I said.
“The girls,” he said, “They are not like other girls. They are specially bred for the run, in the rugged foothills of Andalucia.”
“What do they look like, old man?” I said.
“Not like modern girls, the skinny ones with the small tetas. No. These girls are bred to have the big tetas, and that curve which real women used to have. And they have thighs like women used to have thighs. They have thighs that can squeeze the life from a man.”
“And what do they wear in the hour of glory?” I said.
“They wear the suit,” he said. “The special suit. It is a good suit.”
“What suit?” I said.
“The suit that God gave them when they were born.”
“You mean they are…”
“Nearly,” he said. “Except for the thong.”
“I have heard of the thong,” I said.
He took another drink of the tinto and spat into the dust of Navarra.
“This thing with the thong,” he said. “It is a good thing.”
“The thong thing is a good thing,” I said.
“Yes,” he said.
“Some say that they have new ways,” I said. “Some say they shave the parts of which we do not speak.”
“I spit on this shaving thing,” said the old man. “It is a new way, and it is not a good thing.”
“Things change old man,” I said.
“A woman’s hair is her pride,” he said. “It should be thick and dark, like the hair on her mother’s upper lip.”
An American came into the bar. He had a beard and was built like a barrel. He looked at the bar and he looked at me and he looked at the old man and I thought for a moment that he was going to hit me, they way they do, but he saw my weapon, and then I saw in his eyes that he would not. I keep my weapon concealed, but he saw it through my special suit.
“Will you be running, Americano?” I said.
“No,” he said. “I have a wound. From the last time.”
“That is a bad thing,” I said. “Where is the wound?”
“I am wounded in that place we do not speak of,” he said.
“I am sorry for your wound, Americano,” I said. “It means you are not one for the run.”
“No,” he said. “I am not a run one.”
“Still, you can watch,” I said.
“De nada,” he said. “I will watch.”
“Have a tinto,” I said.
“I will have a tinto,” he said. “Though the tinto makes me tonto.”
He turned to the old man.
“Does he know what to do?” said the Americano.
“All men know what to do,” said the old man. “It is in the cojones. It is in the blood. It is a good thing, this thing with the cojones and the blood. All men have it, and they know this thing. And if they do not have it, they are a maricon.”
And then from around the far corner I heard the sound. It was a terrible sound. I looked at the old man.
“Is that the sound?” I said.
“That is the sound,” he said. “The sound that calls you to be a man.”
“They are coming,” I said.
“Vaya con Dios,” said the old man. “Come back a man. Or do not come back.”
I stood up. That is all a man can do at this time. A man must stand up.
Round the corner they came, the nude girls of Pamplona. They were proud and they were fierce and I could see from their eyes that their blood was up. There was nothing for it but to see this thing through to its rightful end. There would be the spilling of the fluids of bodies on the sand before the sun would set. And this spilling of the fluids would be a good thing.
Already the young bucks were scattering before the charge. They were young and they were full of bravado, and they wanted the world to see that they were men. But they were not men, not yet. The nude girls of Pamplona bore down on them, their massive tetas swinging in the afternoon heat, their thick thighs pounding the dust of Navarra and their thongs… Words could not describe their thongs. Their thongs were unspeakable.
Then one man went down before the run, and in an instant they were on him. He went down in the dust and that minute was the last he knew. They were on him and they were doing what the old man warned me they would do.
“When they are on you,” he said, “they will toss.”
“This toss,” I said, “Is it a good thing?”
“It is not a good thing,” he said. “If you go down, and they toss you, I will put you out of your misery.” He patted the holster at his side.
“You would do that for me?” I said.
“You will thank me for it,” he said
I looked across at the young man. The nude girls of Pamplona were tossing him and tossing him. He cried out, just once, and then it was over. They left him there in the white dust of Navarra, a spent and broken husk.
And then the leading nude girl of Pamplona looked up at me.
“It is the moment of truth,” said the old man.
I drew my weapon. It is a good weapon. Not as good a weapon as the old man’s which was worn and polished with use, and only a little rusty. But my weapon has been honed in the rugged houses of love in Toledo and it is a good weapon. The old man had told me how to hold it, and how to polish it for the nude girls of Pamplona.
The girl of Pamplona looked at my weapon and her nostrils grew wide and I could hear her sharp intake of breath. Her feet pawed the dust as she gathered herself. She looked into my eyes. I looked into her eyes. She charged.
She charged like no girl had charged before. When she charged the earth held steady for a moment and then it shook with the pounding of her feet. The earth moved with the weight of her thighs. Her body in its special birthday suit was thick with sweat and dust, and I knew that I must stand firm and wait.
There is a moment, just one brief moment, before she is upon you. And that moment is when a man must strike. A man must strike at this moment if he is to be a man. Knowing where to thrust the weapon is the thing to know. Standing tall, I cried out to her, twice.
“Senorita. Come,” I cried. “Come. Come, senorita.”
And I thrust my weapon in at the spot. It went in deep, the way a weapon should go in, and I held my ground and thrust it harder. And briefly, very briefly, the nude girl of Pamplona and I were one.
She struggled after that. But it was over. My weapon sank deeper and it was all over for her. She sank to the dust. Her eyes were glazed and her breathing slowed. And the lips of her mouth were pulled back over her teeth and she was happy in her fate.
I looked over at the old man. He nodded just once. He walked over, drew his knife, and cut off the ragged remains of her thong.
“It is yours,” he said, handing the thong to me. “You have earned it, El Hombre.”
The Man Also Rises first appeared in Sex magazine 2006.
Illustration by Sylvie Jones.