Saturday, November 6, 2010

The rebel yell..a magpie tale

“Close the doors, sirs! Ladies and gentleman, take your sits, place your bets… the fight is about to start”

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.

*Palenque:   cockfighting ring or cockpit; also used as concert halls, usually held late at night after the fights.
Totally against animal cruelty; based on a popular mexican song:

"Y enmudeció el palenque cuando
un girazo en el redondel
Volando al ras del suelo sin darle tiempo
a don luís soltar
Se le estrello en el pecho
Se le estrello en la cara
Y de fieras cuchilladas la vida le arrebato
Y enmudeció el palenque
cuando el giro enloquecido
Remataba a macarena...
Poniéndose alegre a cantar"

This is a Magpie tale - Mag 39 - for other Magpie tales click  Magpie tales


  1. holy snap! wow. yeah not one for animal cruelty as well so kinda rootin for that cockfighter, but def dont want to mess with him...smiles. nice write....

  2. great how the gamecock stole the fight :)

  3. You got me at "cierren las puertas señores!!!" :) One Mexican tradition I'm really not proud of but very well described!

  4. This is a powerful piece. He certainly had it coming. Nice Magpie.

  5. When I started to read this I wasn't sure I wanted to carry on...but I'm glad I did...well written and powerful stuff!

  6. I really loved the telling of the magpie tale. Really well done! Great read!!!

  7. I am so glad that you added at the end that you hate animal cruelty. A nice job.

    Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. Of course, I am always interested in the background of a name even if it doesn't win the contest.
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

  8. Gruesome! Cock fighting has always been a big thing in Puerto Rico, the law constrantly changing from legal to illegal, depending on the compassion of the voters I guess. I am always saddened by such cruelty. I'm an avid animal lover, have you guessed?

    This was a stupendous write.

  9. Thank you very much for your nice comments - I am one totally against animal cruelty, I've never been in a cockfight (had been once in a bullfight while in Madrid, since it was a "must do" and left in tears and horrified after the first killing) but know how big the tradition is in Mexico and other countries; the idea was to describe it as raw, cruel and inhumane as it is ... the twist? inspired by a traditional mexican song, from an author that I'm sure was also rooting for the rooster ;)

  10. What a brutal 'sport.' You describe the violence and senselessness well.

  11. What a wonderful story. I looked at that photo of the rooster and could not think of a single thing to write about. You created a great story, marvelous ambience, and a twist at the end. Bravo!

  12. Beautifully written piece and YEAH for the roster. He did have it coming. :)

    Its a small step from animal cruelty to human cruelty.
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  13. Edgy and evocative write. He really did have it coming! Well done.

  14. VERY descriptive in such a way that I could see everything. I was hoping beyond hope that the ending would have been more bloody, with every human in the room torn to bits as ALL the fighting cocks tore them to shreds. I wish every animal being abused knew they had the ability to turn on their "masters" and do the same.

  15. OK now everything is coming together.. I was confused because I've seen several blogs with this image lately... got it

  16. Somebody had to say "enough", so it's very appropriate that it was the rooster!


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