On the fifteenth of June 2008, only a few minutes after stepping into the sand of Madrid’s bullring, the bullfighter José Tomás was covered in blood. Just ten days before, he had had his most glorious fight ever, a fight that turned even the usually skeptical aficionados, bullfighting lovers, ecstatic. That second afternoon the stakes were high, but the bullfight proved to be crude and epic. Tomás was gored three times. After each goring, he stubbornly stood up, planted himself in the ground, and fought on, never stepping back from the bull. His torso bent achingly slowly, inches from the animal, to subtly guide the charge. His calmness was astounding. It didn’t matter that this time the bulls weren’t following his wrist but rather searching for his body—he wanted to deliver the same smooth performance as he had ten days before.
"Death in the Afternoon" by Andrea Aguilar via The Paris Review