Behind the scenes at the Palenque* house they could hear the show was about to start. The rooster’s handlers were all wearing their usual gear: cowboy boots, rough Lee jeans, thick leather belts with oversized silver and gold buckles usually engraved with their proud initials or horse motifs. Resistol hats in beige or elegant black, plaid shirts with pearly buttons and of course, knives in their strap-on cases hanging threatening from their belts.
The beer was flowing while the gamecocks were getting prepared. Tejano music with their typical accordion notes and a pitchy high male voice was flooding the scene. Sharp gaffs were taped to the fighter’s feet, feathers greased and tempers teased to enhance the chance for a good spectacle. These roosters are breed and trained as athletes – cruel caging techniques to build stronger necks and thighs, special diets to develop muscle and the angriest personalities. A life destined to entertain and die in the line of somebody else’s duty.
The first two contestants hit the pit, each one held by their masters… they are presented, provoked by their own mentors by pushing them against each other, tossing aggressive head moves while the feathers of their necks expand in a clear sign of readiness. “Cut them loose!!!” the announcer said and then the fight begins… and continues…and keeps going… bloody fight as if they know there’s money involved. Puncture wounds, bites, scratches, but mostly cuts…until one hits the deadly strike, usually slashing the neck. The fight ends; the winner takes it all… the defeated is dead. The aroused crowd screams bloody murder, the music gets louder and the enthusiastic announcer congratulates the champ.
The final match is ready. The ritual is the same, but one of the fighters is not. Perfect body, shiny black feathers, proud pose, evil eyes… he has a plan. Two contestants are approaching the ring, held as usual by the cocky rooster handlers. It is late, the environment is clouded by cigarette smoke, mumbling gamblers and money…lots of it. Nobody saw it coming. Right before Don Luis had the chance to release it, Evil eyes started the fight: fiery slashing against the handler’s face, ripping and cutting flesh, striking violently to the chest, neck, arms…it was some blood bath, but not the one expected. After finishing with the man, the decided fighter finished its job with the other gamecock, killing it instantly. Standing on top of its dead master, black feathers erected its neck, flapped its wings once more before emitting a loud chant of victory… “He had it coming”, somebody say; now you can open the doors.
This is a Magpie tale - Mag 39 - for other Magpie tales click Magpie tales