Posted on February 11, 2015 by Patricia Ann McNair2.11.2015 Journal Prompt Photo by Josef Koudelka February 11, 2015: Holding on. Share this:ShareClick to email a link to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Like this:Like Loading... Related
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We talk about it still, though it was years back. Over drinks in The Sunny we talk about it. And we laugh and we shake our heads like it can’t possibly be true even though we were there.
‘Do you remember?’ Alf says, and we all of us do without him having to say more. He laughs into his beer and he swears out loud, which we have a rule ‘gainst in the bar and so it costs him a pound every time. ‘Fuck,’ he says, and it’s worth a pound to hear him say it.
‘It’s a bloomin’ miracle I’m sitting here drinking beer with you all,’ Alf says. ‘A miracle and no mistake. It’s like all that church praying through the years and god looked down and he saw what was what and he lifted me up. Can’t explain it otherwise. A miracle.’
Alf’s talking about the day the bull got loose and it ran through the streets of our town and caused a commotion just outside The Sunny. There’s a newspaper picture of it, yellow now and framed behind glass, and it hangs behind the bar. And in the picture you can see Alf hanging from a balcony and the bull running underneath his feet.
‘Hanging by the very tips of my fingers,’ he says and he lifts both hands in the air like we might not know what he means by the tips of his fingers. ‘Hanging by a prayer.’
It was black as thunder or unholy mass. That’s what I remember. And it made a trumpet noise like roaring and moaning both at the same time and its breath coming quick and hot and snorting. It was a Sunday and church was out and the bell was ringing to let everyone know. Then suddenly we was crying out and running all ways and the bull came, its hooves clattering hard against the cobbles and sparking. It was mad as wasps when their nest is struck by sticks in the hands of fool boys. And there was blood or sting in its eye.
‘Like it was ridden by the devil,’ Alf says. ‘Like the devil was steering it towards me. And I asked forgiveness then for all my sins, big and small.’ And he pauses then, like he is maybe recalling those sins he’d let go that day. And all of us in the bar thinking of our own sins. ‘And god saw fit to forgive me.’
It’s a story now and as such it’s stepped a little way from how it really was.
‘Its horns was like knives, and I seen a bull gore a man once and he tossed that man in the air like it was nothing more than a doll made of rags and cloth,’ and that’s Kelly talking and he crosses hisself and he says a small prayer as protection against bad things and he drains his glass and nods to Cathy behind the bar, nodding for her to fill his glass again.
And we all of us join in then, adding our own tuppenceworth to the tale that’s being told, and how those bull horns grazed our skin and the bull bearing down on us and sure to be trampled under its heavy hooves, ‘cept something pulled us to our feet and we climbed onto the sills of windows or leapt onto the roofs of cars.
‘Course we’re a lot braver when we tell it now and the bull is more ungodly fierce and god is more kind in saving us. That’s the drink talking maybe and the passage of time has made less of the fear. Used to be we’d shake, our hands holding our beer glasses unsteady, and our faces was white in remembering. Now we laugh and we pin imaginary medals onto our chests and we give the bull its name, like it is a friend, and it was called Pat.
‘Do you remember?’ says Alf and we all of us do and we look at the picture behind the bar and Alf points to his feet hanging just above the head of the bull and we can only believe that its Alf ‘cos all you can see is his feet.