Gil Ortega they said was washed up. The great legend they said, was too old for his own good. Gil Ortega was one of the greatest bullfighters they’d ever seen.
In the small town of Padilla, a town with a population of just under ten-thousand, bullfighting there, was to many, the life-source of Padilla’s existence. A far-off town like Padilla wasn’t meant to have too many attractions, much less have the times’ grandest of all–but it did.
There Padilla was, a minuscule town of many farmers, with bullfighting that, more often than not was right on par with that found in any great city. In Padilla, Gil Ortega was the local hero. Ortega was a Padilla native, born-and-raised, the only such bullfighter there yet be. And it was more than just a fondness for their own that had made Ortega be the star he was; outside Padilla, Ortega was well-known, just as well; Ortega made his name known in the pastime of his culture–and at the highest level at that; through his own achievements in what was, as he considered, more art and more craft, than as sport or as ritual, Ortega was made a celebrity–and by any standard. Gil Ortega was a fan favorite, due not just to his technical mastery which, for many years was quite damn good, but for his flamboyance, his persona, his ubiquitous influence on all bullfighting itself. Gil Ortega was the most vocal bullfighter of his generation, known best perhaps for his eccentric demeanor. But while other fighters as well were known for sense and skill in showmanship, amongst all and any, Gil Ortega was almost just but one, objectively unique. The signature of Ortega was his own lack thereof: he would not bow to the crowds. He would not acknowledge their cheers. Were that to have been of any other fighter than Ortega, such a gesture would not be embraced. There was a certain way to Ortega that was all his own–an air of sincerity that he’d project, that assured any watcher that he were a man of only pure will–a will shrouded in mystery, yes, but a will of ill intention, never. It was not so much that Ortega were just that lucky to be so cleanly accepted–it was far more so that Ortega was just that brilliant a bullfighter–and that, even the most novice observer would know be true, as sure as blood be red when drawn.
But despite what seemed, though, as invincible popularity, in the years most recent, Gil Ortega was not the same fighter he was before–from the standpoint of his actual fighting with the bulls. Gil Ortega had grown very old for a bullfighter. And although that only added to his legend, as the fans lauded him for his moxy, he took great risk in doing what he’d do. His body reactions were not as sharp as in his youth, his speed was not nearly as fast, he was, simply put, not fit to be dodging charging bulls. But he would.
By the time Ortega’s prowess were already slipping, a newer, younger fighter was gunning hard, wowing crowds, and threatening to eclipse him. That fighter was Leonardo Perro. Perro was of a younger school, a newer style; he had epitomized the evolution in bullfighting, and the fans had recognized that in him. In that way, he and Ortega were not too far off from much the same; if Perro were a cigarette, Ortega would be a cigar. Everyone else: tobacco without a pipe. Perro and Ortega had an x-factor which so many other fighters were missing. They were both showman by their own accord, in and of themselves. For both Ortega and Perro, the bull: a prop. The outcome: irrelevant. But while they both had shared that common though rare stem, their branches could not have spread further. Perro was a most savage fighter. Although certainly flamboyant, and quite righteous in his display, Perro relished the kill. One could say Perro was the butcher. It was a tragic twist of irony when Perro suffered his sole defeat. He had lost his eye to the horn of a bull. A bull that, now notorious, is known by the name El Guapo.