Manuel sat up and looked at him.
“Hullo, Zurito,” he said.
“Hello, kid,” the big man said.
“I’ve been asleep.” Manuel rubbed his forehead with the back of his fist.
“I thought maybe you were.”
“Good. How is everything with you?”
“Not so good.”
They were both silent. Zurito, the picador, looked at Manuel’s white face. Manuel looked down at the picador’s enormous hands folding the paper to put away in his pocket.
“I got a favor to ask you, Manos,” Manuel said.
Manosduros was Zurito’s nickname. He never heard it without thinking of his huge hands. He put them forward on the table self-consciously.
“Let’s have a drink,” he said.
“Sure,” said Manuel.
The waiter came and went and came again. He went out of the room looking back at the two men at the table.
“What’s the matter, Manolo?” Zurito set down his glass.
“Would you pic two bulls for me tomorrow night?” Manuel asked, looking at Zurito across the table.
“No,” said Zurito. “I’m not pic-ing.”
Manuel looked down at his glass. He had expected that answer; now he had it. Well, he had it.
“I’m sorry, Manolo, but I’m not pic-ing.” Zurito looked at his hands.
“That’s all right,” Manuel said.
“I’m too old,” Zurito said.
“I just asked you,” Manuel said.
“Is it the nocturnal tomorrow?”
“That’s it. I figured if I had just one good pic, I could get away with it.”
“How much are you getting?”
“Three hundred pesetas.”
“I get more than that for pic-ing.”
“I know,” said Manuel. “I didn’t have any right to ask you.”
“What do you keep on doing it for?” Zurito asked. “Why don’t you cut off your coleta, Manolo?”
“I don’t know,” Manuel said.
“You’re pretty near as old as I am,” Zurito said.
“I don’t know,” Manuel said. “I got to do it. If I can fix it so that I get an even break, that’s all I want. I got to stick with it Manos.”
“No you don’t.”
“Yes, I do. I’ve tried keeping away from it.”
“I know how you feel. But it isn’t right. You ought to get out and stay out.”
“I can’t do it. Besides, I’ve been going good lately.”
Zurito looked at his face.
“You’ve been in the hospital.”
“But I was going great when I got hurt.”
Zurito said nothing. He tipped the cognac out of his saucer into his glass.
“The papers said they never saw a better faena,” Manuel said.
Zurito looked at him.
“You know when I get going I’m good,” Manuel said.
“You’re too old,” the picador said.
“No,” said Manuel. “You’re ten years older than I am.”
“With me it’s different.”
“I’m not too old,” Manuel said.
They sat silent, Manuel watching the picador’s face.
“I was going great till I got hurt,” Manuel offered.
“You ought to have seen me, Manos,” Manuel said, reproachfully.
“I don’t want to see you,” Zurito said. “It makes me nervous.”
“You haven’t seen me lately.”
“I’ve seen you plenty.”
Zurito looked at Manuel, avoiding his eyes.
“You ought to quit it, Manolo.”
“I can’t,” Manuel said. “I’m going good now, I tell you.”
Zurito leaned forward his hands on the table.
“Listen. I’ll pic for you and if you don’t go big tomorrow night, you’ll quit. See? Will you do that?”
Zurito leaned back, relieved.
“You got to quit,” he said. “No monkey business. You got to cut the coleta.”
“I won’t have to quit,” Manuel said. “You watch me. I’ve got the stuff.”
Zurito stood up. He felt tired from arguing.
“You got to quit,” he said. “I’ll cut your coleta myself.”
“No, you won’t,” Manuel said. “You won’t have a chance.”
Zurito called the waiter.
“Come on,” said Zurito. “Come on up to the house.”
Manuel reached under the seat for his suitcase. He was happy. He knew Zurito would pic for him. He was the best picador living. It was all simple now.
“Come on up to the house and we’ll eat,” Zurito said.
f f f
Manuel stood in the patio de caballos waiting for the Charlie Chaplins to be over. Zurito stood beside him. Where they stood it was dark. The high door that led into the bullring was shut. Above them they heard a shout, then another shout of laughter. Then there was silence. Manuel liked the smell of the stables about the patio de caballos. It smelt good in the dark. There was another roar from the arena and then applause, prolonged applause, going on and on.