Plaza de Mal Muerte
By Dannell Lites

SPIFFY DISCLAIMER THINGIE!

Ah don't own the character of the Matador nor anything else in this fic except for the initial idea!
Hee! Marvel Comics does! This is a fanfic for entertainment purposes only and not meant to infringe
upon copyrights held by Marvel Comics or any others! So don't sue moi!

Rated PG13 for *almost* as pure as the driven snow! No sex, no drugs, no Rock and Roll! Only a
little naughty language! In Spanish, yet!:):)

Authors Note: Ah have recently acquired a copy of Wizard's 2000 Preview Issue! And when Ah
was reading about upcoming events in Daredevil comics from Marvel, Ah ran across the statement
on the part of the, then, writer that he was planning on bringing back some very old DD villains! His
reason was simply that he felt he'd been issued a challenge by a fan at a con: "Some villains are just
too lame to be believed!" the fan declared. "There's no way you can make the Matador interesting!
No way!"

And Ah thought immediately: "Tarnation! Muck *that*! Ah know *exactly* how to make the
Matador interesting!"

So naturally enough Ah arrogan - ah - er - *humbly* picked up the challenge.:):) *snicker* Up to
ya'll to decide whether Ah succeeded or not! Let moi know!

Special thanks go to DarkMark for providing moi with El Matador's actual name:):) Otherwise ya'll
could have found ya'll'self reading a fic narrated by, "Hey! You!" *snicker*




Yo conozco la probreza
Y aqui entre los pobres
J'aimes llore ...
Ay, que me sirve el dinero
Si sufro tanta pena ...
Si estoy tan soll?

Tengo Tova El Dinero en la Munda*




Yo soy Manuel Eloganto.

I am Manuel Eloganto.

Yo gusta mucho torer.

I like to fight bulls very much.

Until lately, I was el matador. Habla Espanol? No? God's curses upon you, then. Spanish is a
loving tongue. You are foolish not to know it. In my language did you know that "matador" means
killer? It does. Most certainly it does. In my youth I fought los toros bravo, the brave bulls, for the
bread in my mouth; the breath in my body.

Today ...

Today I have other uses for my hard learned skills.

More profitable ones.

Hijo de puta(1), were *you* one of the ones who laughed at me? Who mocked my skittering feet
that could no longer stand firm before the bulls? Who called me "manso" -- coward? One of the
ones who's curses drove me from the pristine white sands of my plazas to this plaza de mal muerte;
this "place of the bad death"?

Yes, the sands of the plaza de toros, the place of the bulls, is always white. Freshly layed after every
new corrida(2). The better to see the blood.

Did you watch me from your barrera de sombre (3) perch, high on the shaded side of the plaza?
With the cheeks of your bloated curlo(4) firmly planted upon the plump cushions of your seat;
shielding you from the hard, harsh reality beneath, did you mock me? Did you?

At my alternitiva, my ignition into the world of the bulls I so avidly sought, mi sobresoliste(5), my
mentor, the matador Pedres tried to warn me. But I was a great fool and did not listen to him.

"Manolo," he whispered in my ear as he smiled and handed me my espada, the killing blade with
which I was to slay my first official bull as something other than a novillero, a novice killer of bulls,
"the crowds wound worse than the bulls. They have always been the death of the best of us."

But I was *hungry*. Hungry for fame and fortune; for a life with food in my belly and women in my
bed. I ignored him. I should have listened. Por Dios, I should have listened! But is was not in me.
These were heady dreams for an urchin from the worst Gypsy slum of Triana.

Were *you* one of the ones who sent Manolete to his death upon the horns in despair of pleasing
you any longer on that long ago day? I have been to Linares. Stood upon the very spot where he
fell. Linares has no plaza de toros these days. This one is a shrine, now. His blood still marks the
sand more than fifty years later, a black blot to stain the whiteness, the perfection around it.
Manolete's mistress was the first to accuse you of his death. She is old now, almost eighty, bitter as
soured brine and no longer very beautiful. But her harsh image haunts me. Standing in her doorway,
she called after me as I fled her joylessness.

"Beware, boy!" she cried. "Beware! They'll kill you, too!"

And Joselito. Almost a century gone, now, but never forgotten. Carved from ice and stone, frozen
perfection in his every gesture, Joselito was unquestioned master of the plaza. No bull ever birthed,
they smiled, could ever catch Joselito.

They lied.

For many affcianodos(6) bullfighting ended where it began: in Talavera de la Reina, that "nest of
eagles" where with a wave of his flat brimmed Andalusian hat a man named Francisco Romero
distracted a bull bearing down upon the mounted rejoneador chosen to fight him and became the first
matador. A poor carpenter, Francisco Romero died a rich man. And ever since that day, the path
to wealth and fame for the poor but courageous and adventurous youth of Espana(7) has led them
past the horns of a brave bull in the dying twilight at five of the clock on a hot summer afternoon.

As it did for me.

The bull that finally "caught" the incomparable Joselito was a Miura bull. Called the "Bulls of Death",
Don Eduardo Miura's fierce black taurine demons are much feared. The bull that killed Manolete
was a Miura, too, you see.

I ... do not like Miura bulls.

Ah! But Belmonte, I hear you cry! Juan Belmonte, Joselito's great rival lived to retire! Belmonte
was in his seventies when he died!

Yes, he was. Juan Belmonte was 73 three years old when he put a pistolo to his head and pulled the
trigger. Because he could no longer hear *your* cheers clearly. Because he was too old to return
yet again to the arena to seek them, to pick up the roses you tossed at his slippered feet. And
without them ...

He was nothing.

As *I* am nothing.

Do you begin to sense the way of things? The patterns of time laid bare for your inspection?

When does the traje de luces(8), the matador's "suit of lights" lose it's glitter, its sparkle, it's allure?

When it is stiff with sweat and dirt from the sands of the plaza. When the gnashes, the tears in the
fabric from one too many cornados(9), one too many gorings, can no longer be repaired or
concealed. The body's flesh is strong. It will heal. But the silk of the traje is delicate and so easily
destroyed and ruined.

Like the spirit, the soul, of a man.

You are disgusted, I see. 'Why do it, then?' you snort through your shrunken Anglo nose at me.
Ingles jodida(10)! Do not mock what you do not understand!

You, you gilipollas(11), safe in your norteamericano suburb with your car in every garage and a
chicken in every pot, what do you know of me? Of *my* life? Less than nothing.

Have you ever been hungry? Really hungry? Not just Dios-mio-I-forgot-to-eat-lunch! hunger, but
*real* hunger? The kind that gnaws at your belly like a great fanged predator in the still of the night
and will not let you sleep. The kind that stays with you and haunts your days and nights. That never,
ever leaves you?

I have.

I have eaten the grass the bulls eat in their sacrosanct pastures. By the light of the waning moon I
have fought them and did not count the cost in my own blood nor the blood of the matador who
must face them afterwards on the sands of some distant plaza. A bull loses his innocence but once.
It does not take them long to realize that it is the *man* behind the waving, alluring scrap of scarlet
cloth they seek and not the cloth itself.

But, how else was someone like me supposed to learn my art? Illegally, in the fields and pastures by
night was the only training open to me. And so I took it. The world of the bulls is a closed one
unless you are born to it. I was not. I was seven years old when I first began to seek a way out of
my family's misery and poverty through the bulls. I saw a cinema film, you see.

It was a very bad film. But I did not know that at the time. To my innocent, hungry eyes it was
wonderful beyond belief. Full of bravery, bright costumes, and adoring crowds. It told the simple
story of Currito de la Cruz, a poor boy like me, who through his skill and courage before the bulls
won fame, everlasting renown, and food for his empty belly.

I was transfixed.

I *believed*.

That night I stole the blanket from my sisters bed, used crude brick dye to color it red, and called it
my "muleta"(12). Endlessly the curly head of my friend Juan Horrillio, the first of my human "bulls",
passed before me as I practiced, hour after hour. My place upon the nun's school bench, never
noted for my presence, became celebrated for my absence. Sister Maria would beat me when she
could catch me. I ignored her. The town orange thief and petty snatch purse began to dream of
other ways of feeding his suffering starving family.

You may easily see that I have ended much as I began.

The townsfolk made mock of me. My grandfather, wounded in the leg by the Revolution, was
known as "El Renco", "the limper". They christened me so and laughed at me. The very first time I
appeared before them to perform my new art, in a hastily organized, shoddy fiesta (13) in honor of
Our Lady of Sorrows, I did not have a name. It was the best our poor village of Palma del Rio
could do and I was determined to triumph; to put my enemies to shame.

"What shall we call you, matador?" the Mayoral (14) made light of me. I shrugged. "I do not
know," I admitted, my tongue reluctant to the distasteful task. He studied me.

"What are you picking for Don Felix this season?" he asked.

"Beans," I replied, puzzled.

His smile was vast and unpleasant. "Then that is who you shall be!" he cried. "El Nino de las
Habes! The Kid of the Beans!"

When I took the name El Cordobes, 'Man of Cordoba', I had never even dared to dream of the
graceful Moorish spires and rich life of Cordoba. It was another world to me, as far away as the
moon and the stars themselves.

No one believed in me but me. Ah! That is wrong! I lie. There were two people who believed in
me. My eldest sister Angelina believed me when I told her that I would bring riches untold to lay at
her feet for all the years of her torment keeping our family together. She has calluses on her knees
and not just from scrubbing Don Felix Moreno's polished wooden floors. But from kneeling in
prayer, her hands folded in entreaty, begging la Virgin(15) to lead he baby brother away from the
bulls.

She never succeeded.

And the Guardia Civil(16) ... *they* believed. When Juan and I began to sneak into the pastures of
Don Felix Moreno and disturb the peace of his small herd of precious Saltillio(17) bulls, they
believed. They knew exactly where to come when Don Felix complained. Many are the beatings I
suffered at the hands of those pene(18). Often they did not even await his wrath, this great
patrone(19). They simply came to me and beat me on general principles. There was no one to
care, after all.

When Juan died, killed beneath the horns of Don Felix's seed bull, Islero, there was no one to care
about that, either. They tossed Juan's body into the common paupers pit and did not shed a single
tear. Neither did I.

But when they found Islero dead among his grieving vacas(20), the bayonet protruding from
between his vast shoulders, again, they knew exactly where to turn. There were no questions, no
escape this time. I did not intend there to be. It was a perfect kill. The first of my life. I howled in
triumph as the blade of my improvised espada(21) slid down into the black depths of his huge body.
With that single fell stroke, perfectly placed, Islero fell lifeless at my feet, just as the traditions of the
corridas all said that he would.

But this was now a serious matter. No longer simply a thing of petty theft and vandalism. I was
severely beaten and then expelled from the village of Palma del Rio. I left and I have never been
back. Often have they pleaded with me to return and grace them with my art. I have always
refused. I shall continue to do so. "Let Palma del Rio see the face of her most famous son!" they
implore. I spit upon them and send them away. I am never going back there. Never.

But before I left, I nailed Islero's ears to the most public place in Palma: the railroad station time
schedule.

Palma will never see me again ....

But they will know that Manuel Eloganto was there.

Oh, yes, they will.

The years that followed were hard one. I wandered Espana, begging, sleeping where I could;
always practicing my art. I continued to slip ghost-like into the bull pastures. I became an
esponetano(22), leaping into the Sevilla plaza, praying for the opportunity to make a few passes
before I was caught and beaten. In despair, I even promised Angelina to give up the bulls. I was
going to go to France and find a job in a factory.

I never made it.

Today is much different. I drink the best wines, eat the best foods. Women are mine for the
asking. I have shared the hunting blind of El Caudillo(23) himself.

Francisco Franco is a very dull man.

"So *that* is why you do it!" I hear you exclaim. "That's why you steal!"

For the money?

No, I have money. More money than you will ever see, you in your tawdry Americano slice of
suburbia. When I fought the bulls I commanded the highest fees. One million peseta's a corrida.
That's over 10,000 of your Yankee dollars. Yes, I have only minimal skills with reading and the only
thing I can write is my name. But I can count. Yes, indeed, I can. I am a millionario. Many times
over. One of the richest men in Espana.

No, the money is nothing.

Revenge is sweet. Roll the word about on your tongue. Taste it. Savor it. Revenge for all the
people who drove me from the life I knew, the life I cherished; the life I struggled and fought and
bled for with my skill and my courage. The life *you* forever denied me when my bravery spilled
forth out of my body with my heart's blood before the sharp and searching horns of a Miura bull the
exact color of midnight.

I do not even do it for pride. My pride, once the center of my life, my most precious possession, is
a tattered worthless thing these days, bare as the skeletal trees in Winter's icy grip. Why then?

These thefts amuse me. They give my life true meaning as once only the bulls could. Los Hombres
del Araņa, Los Temerario, the Spiderman and this Daredevil, they define me, now. They have their
powers; their webbing, their billy clubs and their speed, their agility.

I?

I have a cape.

What fun they are, my human "bulls"! And if I am safer with them than with my true bulls of old? It
does not matter. When I risked my life and the sanctity of my body every day on the sands of the
plaza what reward did I find? Scorn and anger only. I will not do it again. When I face my human
foes, my knees do not tremble, my hand does not shake. My capea is sure and graceful. My muleta
does not falter. My feet stand steady and planted in the earth like the roots of a great tree. All is as
it should be. God smiles upon me then.

With every naturale(24), every manoletina(25) every veronica(26), I feel the heat of the bulls body
as he thunders by me, close enough to smell his sweat. I can hear the "Ole's!" of the crowds as they
shower down upon me like the gentle rain from Heaven, I can feel the softness of the roses that kiss
my flesh; see the blossoming desire sparkle in the hot, dark eyes of the women.

I am *me* once more. Manuel Eloganto as I dreamed of being in the filthy Triana slums of my
childhood.

My foes are my life, now. It is they who give it purpose and meaning. It is they who provide me,
now, with the thing against which I test myself. They are both audience and foe to me. Without
them I do not truly live. Without them I have nothing.

I *am* nothing.

For many days now I have lived away from them, my human "bulls". I have rested in the safety of
my spacious ganaderia(27), bred my bulls, tested my cows and my calves; planning, longing .. You
have not heard the last of me; of Manuel Eloganto. I swear it.

The bulls ...

The bulls call to me.



The End


DANNELL'S GUIDE TO THE SPANISH LANGURAGE (*snicker*)

(1) hijo de puta = brother of a whore!

(2) corrida = a full ticket of bullfighting. Six bulls killed by three different matadors.

(3) barrera de sombre = the shaded side of the stands in any plaza de toros. The most exsepnive
seats. The cheap ones, the "sol" seats are in the sun and HOT!

(4) curlo = curlo = asscheeks.

(5) sobresoliste = There are always seven bulls gathered for a corrida in case one of them should be
injured or otherwise rejected. The full fledged matador who offers the young aspiring matador his
future status is often called the sobresoliste. The ceremony itself is called the "alternitiva".

(6) afficianado = bullfighting fan.

(7) Espana = Spain.

(8) traje de luces = "suit of lights". The matador's ceremonial garb when he faces the bulls. Its
design hasn't changed since the 18th century.

(9) cornados = wounds left by the horns of a bull.

(10) Ingles jodida! - English fucker!

(11) gilipollas = asshole

(12) muleta = the small piece of scarlet serge cloth with which a matador "controls" (if he is skillful!)
a bull during the pageantry of a corrida. Bulls are color blind. They are not attracted to the color of
the cloth but to its movements. This is as opposed to the capea or capote, the cape, a much larger
thing, with which a matador will first take the bull's measure early in the corrida. For the definitive
act, the "moment of truth" at the end of the faena, the smaller muleta must be used.

(13) fiesta = a festival, usually in honor of a saint or Holy icon. In Spain at such fiesta's a bullfight is
usually on the program.

(14) Mayoral = title of the foreman, supervisor, chief ranch hand, of a bull breeding ranch or
ganaderia.

(15) la Virgin = The Virgin or the Virgin Mary.

(16) Guardia Civil = the "civil guardians". In other words the cops, the fuzz, the pigs! In Spain, they
are known fr their brutality and their corruption.

(17) Saltillio bulls = a very prominent and respected breed of Spanish fighting bull.

(18) pene = literally: penis. Manuel is calling someone a "dickhead", IOW:):)

(19) patrone = patron, i.e. the big local land owner.

(20) vaca = cow.

(21) espada = sword, the specialized sword with which a matador kills the bull.

(22) esponetano = spontaneous one. Often a poor boy with no other prospects for taurine success
will leap unannounced into the ring during a corrida. This is HIGHLY illegal:(:( Not to mention
dangerous for both the esponetano and the matador already on the sands!

(23) El Caudillo = "the Boss" is the literal meaning of the phrase. These days the title *always*
refers to Generalissimo Francisco Franco, who ruled Spain with an iron hand for so very long.

(24) naturale = a pass done with the muleta; a chest high pass that sends the bull spinning off to the
left.

(25) manoletina = another pass, this one named in honor the great Manolete. Posthumously, of
course. Manolete would not have approved. It is a flowery, needlessly ostentatious pass.
Nevertheless it does have a certain beauty when done properly.

(26) veronica = *the* most classic pass of the bull fight. Done with the muleta, It spins the bull
around the matador's body and then sends him thundering off to the right. Bulls are like people.
They usually "favor" one horn over the other. Most bulls are right horned. Thus the veronica, a pass
to the right, is the pass that exposes most of the matadors body to the animal in passing.

(27) ganaderia = bull breeding ranch. Most matadors, if they live to retire, become bull breeders.


Song Translation:

I am familiar with poverty
And here among the poor
I never cried ...
Ay, what good does money do me
If I suffer such pain ...
If I am so alone?

I Have All The Money in the World
pasodoble, written for Manuel Benitez, El Cordobes


Author's Further Note:
This fic is dedicated to Manuel Sanchez y Benitez-Perez: El Cordobes. A man who really lived the early life I have bestowed upon Manuel Eloganto. Who was my friend for a Season in the long ago time. Who lived his life with grace and unequaled passion and ferocity. And is still living it! Almost universally hailed as the greatest matador of the later half of this century, Manolo has beaten the odds:):) Raising bulls upon his sprawling Andulsian ganaderia, Manolo lends his name to several charity fights a year where he performs but is otherwise gleefully unfettered by the world of the bulls. I'm told he still sings and dances the night away. And knows to the centavo where every coin he ever earned before the horns of a bull is invested.

What was he like? He was like *this*:

Manolo liked to place his own banderillas, sometimes breaking them down
to the size of a pencil, leaning on the bull as he placed them. It was also
said that he had a unique understanding of each of the bulls he fought
and knew just what he could or couldn't get away with. On one occasion,
traveling to a corrida in Andujar, he turned to Columpio his
banderillero and announced he was going to do something that
afternoon no one had ever seen before. Sure that he had seen
everything in his long career, the old banderillero regarded him with a
skeptical stare. Antonio was wrong. I just smiled.

When it came time to place the banderilla's Columpio was ready for
his signal to enter the ring, but Manolo waved him away. He was
going to place them himself. Columpio sighed. He enjoyed some of the lowest
insurance premiums in Spain, since he almost *never* got to actually work:):)

His grey-haired banderillero stared aghast as Manolo broke his
banderillas down to pencil length, marched up to his bull waiting in
the middle most dangerous part of the ring, then turned his back to him. Slowly, he paced
his way backwards towards the bull. As the bull charged, he stopped.
In the second before the animal's horns reached his back, he stuck
out his right leg to catch his eye and divert his charge. As the animal
swerved, he snatched his leg back, spun and slid his banderillas into
its back. His stunned banderillero and I joined the crowd in their wild
applause.

That's a true story. I was there. I saw it. Antonio retired. He never placed another set of banderillas.
"What's the point?" he smiled.




LAST AUTHOR'S NOTE:

Any flames directed this way regarding "cruelty to animals" and such like will be gleefully deleted
with scorn and derision.

Don't bother.

As Ah hope Ah have shown, the only creature "suffering" down upon those dazzling white sands of
the arena is the matador.