Part 14 of 30
The Mam & Pap
Royal Splendid Traveling Rodeo
Picture yourself in those taut moments — filled with agony, ecstasy, and expectation, “I might die in the next minute. Forgive me for the sins of my youth, which everyone does." Get securely prone and a’straddle as best you can a bull whose back is six times your senior.
The seconds tick down before the gate springs and your thoughts are a mile a minute. “I had genuine sweaty-armpits fear of this animal when I first saw him, and it’s not much better now.” You mentally juggle fear and resolve, counting the seconds till you either get up alive or they whisk your lifeless body out of the area so as to not bring everyone down.
There’s an uneasy truce, at least in your mind, because it’s tough to negotiate with a proud bull from your somewhat-dominant edge of sitting on its back. If you could sum it up, it’d be, “I’ll go easy on you, Old Bull, because each one of us is the other’s bread and butter, so to speak.” Then you try the commiseration approach: “Someday we’ll be retired together, me in a room, you in a stall, each of our quarters adjacent and opening up to a playground for us to mosey lazily around, remembering the ‘Shows of ‘98’ and all the good old days. Remember our first time together, your loco wildness and my abject terror barely concealed?”
That thought is barely filed away before the door springs open and the bull bucks and kicks like he means business, dirty business. Which he has to because no one bucks like his life depends on it just for the hell of it. Then there’s the eyes, that intent glare of death. If it weren’t for the snarl of rope around his muzzle, he’d take a bite outta everything in sight. Firearms might make an unwelcome appearance, it being always necessary to maintain life and limb of the human performers and their watchers. Especially the crowd, because they can sue.
Right now, though, the crowd is into it, their thirst for blood barely concealed. They’re so into it that they loosen the purse strings of their collective humanity and are just hoping to see some action, riproaring stuff maybe involving the bull goring the man, taking out the clowns, who knows what all is possible? Destroying the county? “Just so these bleachers are able to protect me till I’m able to escape the grounds!”
Eight seconds of glory have passed and the rider waves his arm, “I’m OK, thank you for your thoughts and prayers...” The clowns roll a few bald tires around the lot, lulling the bull back to docility, which is how bulls naturally behave with mixed signals and scattered focus. Like la la land.