He got up coughing and feeling broken and gone. The dirty bastards!
“Give me the sword,” he shouted. “Give me the stuff.”
Fuentes came up with the muleta and the sword.
Hernandez put his arm around him.
“Go on to the infirmary, man,” he said. “Don’t be a damn fool.”
“Get away from me,” Manuel said. “Get to hell away from me.”
He twisted free. Hernandez shrugged his shoulders. Manuel ran toward the bull.
There was the bull standing, heavy, firmly planted.
All right, you bastard! Manuel drew the sword out of the muleta, sighted with the same movement, and flung himself onto the bull. He felt the sword go in all the way. Right up to the guard. Four fingers and his thumb into the bull. The blood was hot on his knuckles, and he was on top of the bull.
The bull lurched with him as he lay on, and seemed to sink; then he was standing clear. He looked at the bull going down slowly over on his side, then suddenly four feet in the air.
Then he gestured at the crowd, his hand warm from the bull blood.
All right, you bastards! He wanted to say something, but he started to cough. It was hot and choking. He looked down for the muleta. He must go over and salute the president. President hell! He was sitting down looking at something. It was the bull. His four feet up. Thick tongue out. Things crawling around on his belly and under his legs. Crawling where the hair was thin. Dead bull. To hell with the bull! To hell with them all! He started to get to his feet and commenced to cough. He sat down again, coughing. Somebody came and pushed him up.
They carried him across the ring to the infirmary, running with him across the sand, standing blocked at the gate as the mules came in, then around under the dark passageway, men grunting as they took him up the stairway, and then laid him down.
The doctor and two men in white were waiting for him. They laid him out on the table. They were cutting away his shirt. Manuel felt tired. His whole chest felt scalding inside. He started to cough and they held something to his mouth. Everybody was very busy.
There was an electric light in his eyes. He shut his eyes.
He heard someone coming very heavily up the stairs. Then he did not hear it. Then he heard a noise far off. That was the crowd. Well, somebody would have to kill his other bull. They had cut away all his shirt. The doctor smiled at him. There was Retana.
“Hello, Retana!” Manuel said. He could not hear his voice.
Retana smiled at him and said something. Manuel could not hear it.
Zurito stood beside the table, bending over where the doctor was working. He was in his picador clothes, without his hat.
Zurito said something to him. Manuel could not hear it. Zurito was speaking to Retana. One of the men in white smiled and handed Retana a pair of scissors. Retana gave them to Zurito. Zurito said something to Manuel. He could not hear it.
To hell with this operating table! He’d been on plenty of operating tables before. He was not going to die. There would be a priest if he was going to die.
Zurito was saying something to him. Holding up the scissors.
That was it. They were going to cut off his coleta. They were going to cut off his pigtail.
Manuel sat up on the operating table. The doctor stepped back, angry. Someone grabbed him and held him.
“You couldn’t do a thing like that, Manos,” he said. He heard suddenly, clearly, Zurito’s voice.
“That’s all right,” Zurito said. “I won’t do it. I was joking.”
“I was going good,” Manuel said. “I didn’t have any luck. That was all.”
Manuel lay back. They had put something over his face. It was all familiar. He inhaled deeply. He felt very tired. He was very, very tired. They took the thing away from his face.
“I was going good,” Manuel said weakly. “I was going great.”