LOCATION: A CAFÉ IN PAMPLONA

 

It'the festival of San Fermin, the running of the bulls. The town is full of tourists. You have had a continual hangover for a week. Your friends are quarelling. Brett is on the loose. In the morning, you call room service and order coffee and buttered toast. You dress and go out. Though you have scoured all her usual haunts, Brett is nowhere to be found, .

 

You stop in at the Café Iruña to have more coffee and buttered toast. It is one of those days when you can’t have enough coffee and buttered toast. Business is slow. The waiter is standing against the wall cleaning his fingernails with a jackknife. He takes his time to do the job right. He sees you are waiting to order and smiles. You watch as he finishes cleaning his fingernails and folds the knife. The knife makes a sharp click in the empty cafe. He puts the knife in the pocket of his pants and makes a grimace as he joggles his little finger in his ear. Then he wipes his finger on his apron and slowly comes over to your table.

 

“Did you hear about the encierro?” he asks you.

 

You have no idea what he is talking about. You are wondering about Brett.

 

“I hear one man is badly gored. Here.” The waiter puts his hand on his crotch. “Very bad,” he says and makes a sucking sound with his lips.

 

You nod your head. You have had enough of bulls and crowds and waiters and worrying about Brett.

 

“All finished for him,” the waiter says.

 

“Finished?”

 

The waiter makes an OK sign with one hand and thrusts the index finger of the other hand back and forth through it. “Finished, I think.”

 

“Yeah.” 

 

The waiter goes away and comes back with a plate of tortillas and a pot of strawberry jam. He puts the tortillas and the pot of jam on the table.

 

“What is this?”

 

“This is your order.”

 

“No, I ordered coffee and buttered toast.”

 

The waiter picks up the tortillas and jam and makes a sucking sound with his lips. “Very bad,” he says. “All for sport. All for fun. Just for fun.”

 

“What’s that?”

 

“The man who was gored in the cojones. What do you think of that?”

 

It occurs to you that you have not seen Bill in several days. Maybe he’s with Brett. Brett is always somewhere with someone.

 

“He wants to be brave,” the waiter says, shaking his head. “Impress the girls.”

 

Or maybe she is with Mike. Or someone else, someone named Tom or Dick or Harry.

 

“No more fun now. No more girls.” The waiter shakes his head and makes the sucking sound with his lips.

 

No question you have impressed Brett. She has told you so. A lot of good that has been. It should make you feel grand. But it hasn’t and it doesn’t and it never will.

 

“A horn in the cojones. No fun. What is a man without cojones?”

 

“Tell me about it.”

A man coming in from the Plaza shouts something to the waiter. The man has a solemn look and shakes his head. They rapidly speak. They make gestures with their hands. The waiter shakes his head. Both men are shaking their heads.

 

“Very bad, very bad,” the waiter says to you. “Muerto!”

 

You shrug. “Sorry?”

 

“Finished. Kaput.” The waiter swipes his hand across his throat.

 

“Dead?”

 

“Yes. All for fun. No cojones and now he is dead. Better to be dead, I think. What do you think of that?”

 

“Fuck you.”

 

Later in day you learn that the man who had been killed was named Richard Toomey and came from Fairfield, Connecticut. He was nineteen years old and was a student at Brown, studying pre-law. This father was a vice-president of an advertising firm in New York. His mother was one of the Guggenheims. The next day his picture was in the newspaper and Brett said it was a shame.