The Violent West

The matador who received top billing was not, as advertised, the most famous bullfighter in Spain but rather (we guessed) his son, or perhaps his nephew or second cousin; also, the promised dinner with this matador, to have been arranged by a (self-identified) associate of the Plaza Monumental in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, the evening before the fight failed to materialize. Nevertheless, the afternoon of April 3, 1994—Easter Sunday—witnessed some of the best bullfighting Jim Rauen and I had seen in four seasons, climaxed by a superb performance by an improbably small torero, hardly bigger than a dwarf, named Adrian Flores, previously unknown to us but with a fighting style comparable to that of the late Juan Belmonte. Flores was particularly brilliant with his first bull, which he passed so close to his body that his scarlet-and-white suit was repeatedly smeared with blood, and placed the estocada with precision high between the shoulders so that the:bull collapsed in seconds: el presidente held out one handkerchief at the conclusion, then a second in response to the frenzied admonition of the crowd, and Flores' men cut two ears. At the start of his second fight, Flores in a departure from custom had the ring cleared and then, taking a position before the gate marked TORILES, knelt on both knees with his pink-and-yellow cape spread in the sand before him and awaited the charging bull, which he passed with aplomb...

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