MADRID, SPAIN, IN THE NOT-TOO-DISTANT FUTURE — I was writing to the President of the United States, asking him to appoint me chairman of a committee that would decide which American men must have vasectomies, when the red phone rang.
“It was like Jonestown on Halloween — the dead, gored beyond recognition, their silly hero costumes shredded like so many romantic dreams.”
It was my friend Monty Gelstein, calling from Madrid, Spain.
“Listen, man,” I told him in a calm voice, “I’m kind of in the middle of something …”
“I’m in the middle of something, too, David,” Monty interrupted. “You want to know what I’m in the middle of?”
It was a rhetorical question.
“I’m standing in the center of the Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas, taking a few pictures,” Monty began to explain.
I typed the name of Madrid’s bullring into Google News and clicked on a headline that brought me to a piece by Shawn Moksvold in The Huffington Post titled “Elaborate Slaughter: Early Impressions of My First Bullfight.”
I scanned the essay and read aloud the following passage: “In Madrid and in the south of Spain, bullfights are reported and critiqued in the arts sections of major newspapers and recorded live by TV cameras. Matadors have Facebook pages and tweet updates and appear in gossip magazines. Tickets to bullfights are sold at travel agencies alongside cruise packages and group tapas tours. But I can’t help but wonder how long all this will last.”
“Wonder no more, my beautifully evolved friend!” Monty assured me.
As if on cue, my e-mail inbox lit up with Google alerts about “gored matadors.”
Each news story I clicked on featured the same image: a massive bull striking a prideful pose on a killing floor littered with the gutted carcasses of more matadors than I could have hoped for.
“Did you get my e-mail?” Monty demanded to know.
Yes, I had, I noticed, hardly needing to open the attached image, but doing so anyway.
“I call it Death in the It’s About Fucking Time,” Monty announced with a voice that could have belonged to the bull in the photograph. “And right now, it’s about fucking time I get the hell out of here. Come on, Karma, you too.”
I heard the sound of a powerful bull snorting in agreement, and then the wail of sirens growing louder on the other end of the line, before the connection was lost.
While authorities in Madrid would imminently be launching a very public investigation, I had only to read a handful of the news reports that were filling my inbox like a direct flow of dead matadors’ blood from the Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas to understand what had happened.
A “gala celebration of bullfighting in Madrid” had been held the previous night in an “effort to distract the media from Spain’s worsening economic crisis,” one news report indicated. Another media outlet was reporting that “the star-studded event, which honored the country’s most beloved matadors and the ascendant generation of bullfighters, was cut short when a fire alarm required police to evacuate the hosting venue.”
“The guests of honor,” a third news outlet explained, “were rushed by a quick-thinking security guard in an unmarked van to an undisclosed location.”
I smiled and applauded.
“I’ve got to hand it to you, Monty,” I said aloud, despite the fact that there was no one around to hear, “you never cease to inspire me.”
I logged off the Internet and refocused my attention on the letter I was writing to the president:
“… By mandating that all adult men classified by the Joint Committee on An America with Fewer Humans as ‘subhuman’ or ‘insufficiently evolved’ undergo standard vasectomy procedures, we can begin to rid these United States of future mouth-breathing knuckle-draggers. I would further recommend that those who fall through the cracks, upon their eventual positive identification, be required to appear before a ‘death-panel’ chaired by one of our nation’s greatest public servants, Monty Gelstein. …”
The Monday Maul cartoon was created for The Daily Maul by New York-based artist Vin Paneccasio.