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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Like a Red Rag to a Bull (11/28/13)

TITLE: Charging at Life
By Sheldon Bass


He’d slayed the beast. It’s a story best understood by scrutinizing the participant’s eyes. Hailed a hero, Philippe’s eyes flashed the pride throbbing in his chest. A roar went up from the crowd of spectators. Beautiful Senioritis tossed bouquets of flowers to their champion.

Red fury was all anyone had noticed from the bovine’s bulging, ocular orbs, contrasted by the rolling whites, as he churned the dirt into clouds of dust with iron-like hooves. Yet, upon more astute observation, one would see the glistening pangs of pain written therein. And the fearful quaking of the bulls limbs.

The bull was first teased, tormented. Tightly tied around the top of its scrotum was the obligatory rawhide thong. Used to provoke pain, hence anger. Diablo was the moniker given to the beast, whose lot in life was to entertain—and die.

But who could know the longing that emanated from the heart of this animal? A yearning for freedom and peace. Nobody saw that. Only what they wanted to see. A devilish and dangerous brute. Further, if memories were perceived in the eyes, one might observe that while in the throes of death, Diablo’s mind went back to his joyous youth, suckling at the warm, welcoming teats of his mother.

As the large, horned bull first joined him in the arena, Philippe’s black eyes widened and moved in quick jerks, betraying his nervous apprehension. The adrenaline coursing his veins sharpened his perceptions, his body’s reaction time and wit. With each pounding heartbeat the matador’s temples pulsated. Close attention on those deep ebon eyes would soon confirm a sudden, calming fortitude. A confidence acquired by eight years of diligent practice.

When the eyes of beast and man first locked upon the other, the challenge had been made. Yellow hues of pain in Diablo’s eyes instantly transformed to fiery red rage, focused directly into the windows of Philippe’s soul. Man. The propagator of his agony.

With each ferocious charge, Diablo’s eyes became more frustrated and bewildered. As the rampaging monster began to slow, his strength diminishing, Philippe, waved his red cape and twirled in a graceful dance, then thrust the first sword into Diablo’s right flank. On the next and more labored pass, another sword deeply pierced the left side, puncturing one of the bull’s massive lungs. Yet determination still blazed in the victims eyes. He desperately wanted to plunge a horn through his antagonist.

In Diablo’s last approach, slow and deliberate, he tried to take the nimble footed matador straight on. But Philippe was too quick and precise, as again that distracting red cape concealed the true position of the bull fighter. The merciless death blow came. A direct thrust into the heart.

A thousand pounds of beef came crashing down, skidding to a stop, while burrowing a trench in the dust, five feet past the killer. With a snort, Diablo’s last gasping breath blasted up a cloud of dirt. The fire in his eyes had been extinguished. And the bull fighter saw the blank stare of death.

Philippe had eagerly anticipated this moment of triumph. He’d won the challenge against monolithic odds and a dozen matadors. The crown was his. Yet, while strutting around receiving laud from the audience, an unexpected realization, born of studying the eyes of his opponent was eking its way through his mind. Those eyes. They held something much deeper than the expected bloodlust. There’d been a helplessness and fear peering through Diablo’s pupils.

The champion’s eyes suddenly drooped from the outside corners in sadness. A tidal-wave of regret coursed over his face. The look he saw in the dying eyes of Diablo seemed to poignantly state the question. Why?

Philippe mentally reviewed the past eight years of his life. All that time and effort. This was the pay-off. But it wasn’t at all what he expected.

Like a bull being coaxed into charging, by a red flag, Philippe had charged ahead in pursuit of glory, without thinking it through. In the greater scheme of life, this was futile, empty of honor.

The death of his grand opponent left a void. He’d lost something of himself. The victor’s head hung low, and shoulders sagged as he plodded out of the arena, never to return. The crimson cape drug in the dirt behind him, his watery eyes filling. He went home a little wiser.

“The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.” (Proverbs 12:10)

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This article has been read 872 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Brenda Rice 12/05/13
Very nicely done. I felt the bull's pain and determination.

I also felt for the young man.

Thanks for sharing.
C D Swanson 12/06/13
This story was written so well it disturbed me greatly! And, that is the sign of an excellent writer!
The bullfights that some countries embrace, to me personally, is one of the cruelest "sports" in the history of time. My cousin went to one at fifteen years old, she was traumatized, and never forgot the blood, the horrific goading and teasing and slaying of that poor bull. But, I digress, your story was obviously "spot on topic" and you couldn't have written it with more detail than already stated. Very well done entry.

God bless~
lynn gipson 12/12/13
Wow, this is excellent, and to think I missed this one.

Congratulations on this fine and WELL deserved win. What a message you send me here. Something to think about as I charge through life.

lynn gipson 12/12/13
Hey, I just realized, we got EC's too! YAY!
Jeff Lockshin 12/12/13
Magnificent writing! Fabulous use of descriptive language capturing the physical and emotional aspects of this great story. Bravo!!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 12/12/13
Wow what a powerful story. I love how you took the topic literally yet still made it significant to every reader. That takes skill. Congratulations! Happy Dance!
Judith Gayle Smith12/17/13
You broke my heart. This is so powerful! congratulations!
Hebrews 10:26-31 KJV
Judith Gayle Smith12/17/13
You broke my heart. This is so powerful! congratulations!
Hebrews 10:26-31 KJV
C D Swanson 01/08/14

I am so behind with this well deserved win...but, never to late to say, Congratulations...well done!

God bless~