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Toreador, toreador

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There was a trial, an inquest, of which he was obliged to attend. He took a seat in the back, towards the right of the curving half-moon gallery. When they brought the prisoner out a restless and disturbed murmur spread through the room. Jose had a wild, feral look in his eyes, the look of a man who had lost something essential to his own humanity, as though a precious piece of him had broken away, lost forever. 

 

No family, no kin, the proceeding officer read. There was a mother who had died recently. Of grief, they murmured in the gallery, grief upon seeing what her son had become. 

 

There was a girl, too, across from him in the room, huddled under dark shawls. He watched, he who was out of place, finding a kindred spirit in the meek figure; it was only then did he recognize her as the girl from the night on the mountain. Jose's girl. She was pretty in a sweet young way, but pain had transformed her. She met his eyes only once during the trial, her haunted, dark eyes meeting his from across the crowded gallery. In that moment he knew she was the only person in the world who understood his pain. 

 

They sentenced him quickly and without hesitation. Death by a bullet. A quick death. An easy death. Better than he deserved. 

 

Across the room the girl collapsed, her sobs echoing in the large gallery. Others averted their eyes; none moved to console her. He felt nothing towards the condemned man and only sadness for the girl. 

 

I will never love again, he thought. 

 

They marched Jose out, shackled and guarded, as his eyes roved the room wildly like a blind man's. When he found Escamillo, there was a flash of recognition and hatred, and he lunged forward, twisting and shaking as the guards held his arms, trying to restrain him. He spat and screamed, a chilling, feral, unhinged scream. The sound a bull makes as you stick a knife into its heart, Escamillo thought. They pulled him from the room, and it was quiet. 

 

I will never love again.