Manuel Garcia-Ramerez reads Hemingway in translation. His favourite: “Death in the Afternoon." But Manuel is shamed by his lifelong fear of bulls.
Each Sunday he eats a plate of roasted bull heart while dressed in a sequined Matador suit. Placing his montera on the table beside the plate, he toasts Juan Belmonte Garcia’s memory with Sangre de Toro.
As a teenager Manuel ran with the bulls in the streets of Pamplona. He still has nightmares. Of being caught and tossed. His left leg smashed so bad it set crooked.
Today is his seventieth birthday. He finishes the bottle, puts on his hat, takes up his father's estoque and goes out. People stare.
He walks to the zoo, climbs the wall of the lion enclosure. An old lion looks at him and yawns. Manuel twirls his cape and drags it in the dust. A young lioness snatches it with spread claws, but loses interest.
He draws his estoque, the killing sword.
Keepers come running. His body is sprawled on the ground. His Traje de Luces, his Suit of Lights darkening like the sunset, ripped open, the flesh beneath torn away, ribs broken. They can see his true heart, like an egg in a nest of sticks.