Tuesday, July 29, 2003

vignette: simpatio (sympathy)

When Domingo Rodriguez brought home the bull that was fated to turn his heart into stone, he was twenty six years old, newly married and desperately in love. The bull, thick muscled and handsome, was an unexpected prize Domingo won in a moment of spontaneous participation in a knife throwing contest at the Mercado du’l Tres. He threw the blade without thought or hope and struck the target perfectly, triggering a resounding cheer from the gathered crowd that provoked a sudden vision of his new wife accepting the magnificent beast as a gift.

Gialina, his young wife, was at that moment, washing rice for their evening meal. As the polished grains passed from her hands to the cooking pot, she reflected on how her life had changed, from an existence seemingly doomed forever in a remote barrio in Pagadi’an to a new home in the outskirts of grand Ciudad Meiora itself, delirious in the excesses of her husband’s nightly embrace. Despite the fact that her heart was filled to overflowing with adoration for Domingo, what she could not know was she was about to be given something that would prove her absolute ignorance in the matters of the heart.

The prize bull, so central to the destruction of the young couple’s marriage, knew nothing of his destiny. All he longed for was someone to love, for despite what his appearance suggested, he had lived an extraordinary life. He followed his new owner home with an impressive dogged docility, for following instructions was the least of his marvelous range of skills. When Domingo attempted to lead him through rocky ground, he chose their path, heading catercorner instead of directly ahead, navigating the worst of the fields.

The bull's true owner, the Most Excellent Primo Orador Betina du Zabala, beside herself with rage and grief, had intended the beast as her special companion. As the Grandmaster of the Spoken Word, she was versed in many secret methods of power, including the bildungsroman form of twisting moral identities and the calculated use of haplology and edulcoration. She had invested years of craft and patience, from the time the animal was a calf all the way to his adulthood, with the goal of having someone she could talk to when she grew older than old.

Betina du Zabala wept when the bull was discovered missing. She did not know where the bull was, how it was stolen from her estate, who stole it or why. She had no idea that it had changed hands many times in the span of a day and at that moment was trudging towards its new home. What she did know, what she swore with all the power of her art of expression, was that whoever kept her bull would be the beneficiary of an abundance of curses.


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