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At the back doors of the bullring

Outside the bullring a truck is blocking the street. Its side is branded with the image of a bull. The truck belongs to “Taurica & Simon S.L.: Toros de Lidia”. The doors at the back of the truck are wide open and a crowd has gathered around a man with a forklift. The man begins to raise the forklift’s arm and even though it’s obscured by onlookers I understand what weighs it down. The arm rises above the crowd and deposits its load – a dead bull from the arena – into the back of the truck. A prong of the forklift is slick with blood.

I hang around as the crowd thins. A noise comes from inside the truck like the sound of a high-powered hose. The doors are still open and enough people are still standing around to be drawn to the sound. I join them and we are greeted by a man in apron whites with a cutting instrument in his right hand. Both it and his arm are coated in the same slickness as the prong of the forklift. On the floor of the truck the dead bull lies, split from neck to groin. The driver closes the door and we move off. From the bullring the crowd roars and I pass a second van further up the street.

I return later to await the end of the corrida. A truck is still there; the same as before or another, I am not sure. The crowd is still there, too, though it has grown, and I believe that most of the people in it are awaiting the corrida’s end as well. There are thumps from the truck and the back doors open. Another man, this one in white fishing overalls, steps out and grabs for a chemical cannister. Individuals break away from the crowd to peer inside the truck.

Behind the forklift there is an ambulance.

I peer inside the truck again. A bull is on its back at the rear of the truck. Its legs are broken at the knees and hang loosely from the joint. Its belly is split open and the man in overalls is fishing out pieces from its gut and tossing them into the pail beside his feet. His arms are bloody to the biceps.

Fathers lead sons and mothers lead daughters to the back of the van to look. A whistle sounds and the attention of the crowd turns to the ambulance and now it is the back doors of this vehicle that swing open. The crowd moves towards it and I realise that perhaps it’s not solely the corrida’s end that has drawn them to this particular street corner.

A third set of doors open – the ones into the arena – but instead of a gored matador another dead bull emerges. A glimpse of the ring: matadors in their suits of lights, the audience beyond, and then the mules bringing out the body. The bells on their harnesses remind me of Christmas. Another forklift and this bull is added to the last, corralled by the flashes of camera phones from the crowd.

Again the whistle sounds and the Guardia Civil shepherd the crowd to the side of the street. The lights of the ambulance flash amber and we take another step back, this time of our own accord. The corrida is over and its audience has begun to flow out onto the street. The ambulance starts up. As it passes us by the crowd applauds its mystery passenger.

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