J uan del Alamo is a goner, I'm sure of it. It's hard to see beyond the huddle of matadors and medics clustered around his body, which is splayed on the fine dust of Las Ventas Plaza in Madrid, but he doesn't seem to be moving. The bull that tossed him around like a bag of laundry stands a few meters away, blank-faced and panting, a bouquet of blood-soaked banderillas sprouting from between his shoulder blades.
But after a few minutes, the torero is helped to his feet, the right side of his head a bloody smear. The woman sitting next to me watches through barely parted fingers. Del Alamo waves off his entourage, straightens his tobacco-colored "suit of lights," and picks up a sword to finish what he started. The blood seeping through his spangly costume isn't his -- it's the bull's.
He completes the faena in hot-pink stockinged feet, his dainty black slippers having sailed off somewhere during the tousle. He sinks the sword into the bull's back, hoping to satisfy the crowd with a well-placed stab to the heart, but it's a miss. The bull starts spitting blood. Another thrust. Another miss. The bull, barely hanging on, kneels down in the sand. Pitos, whistles of disapproval, emit from the fans in section seven.