The last thing Garrod expected was to find love in Mexico, especially after being dumped by Jessica in Kalamazoo. After barely escaping with his life as he ‘ran with the bulls,’ Garrod discovered there was far more to Mexico than he ever thought if he just let his heart believe.
He tried not to think of his own craziness. Why was he doing this? He was doing it on a dare – by himself to himself. He’d lost Jessica and had been laid off from his job, only to be shipped off to Mexico. Surely he could take part in bull running and survive. He was up to it. He’d run track in high school and had worked out every other day back in the States. He was in good shape, much better than many of the runners here. Men in cowboy hats, and even a few women, piled into the plaza. He suspected the women would leave as soon as the bulls were let loose. Some of them, he was told, would just stay to taunt the bulls and make them madder than ever, and then would escape to safety.
The day grew hotter and the sun blazed down. Finally, at noon, the bulls that were trucked in from the ranches were let loose through the barricades. Garrod was ahead of the crowd, at the front of the mass of runners. If the bull stampeded over him, they’d have to get through the others behind him first.
A horrendous noise resounded through the square as the bulls started charging to the taunts of the bloodthirsty crowd—and Garrod ran for all he was worth. He ran, his heart pounding, as the sounds of the bull’s hooves grew closer, ever closer. He thought only that he wanted to survive this, not end his life gored by a bull, a loco Gringo annihilated by a bull. What was he doing running with the bulls anyway?
He ran as he’d never run before. He could almost feel the hot breath of the raging animal behind him. He shifted to the left, away from the bull’s path, and felt a brief respite, even as sweat dripped into his eyes, making it difficult for him to see. He ran on, and as he did, he felt his energy being quickly sapped in the sweltering heat, but realized to his relief that the bull wasn’t on his back, although another quickly gained speed behind him.
Garrod sprinted as fast as he could to stay ahead of many of the runners. Faster, faster he ran, rapidly out of breath. How long could he keep at it? He dashed on ahead, just barely able to reach out of the enclosure. He spotted a small space in the crowd of runners, glided through it and out of the barricade, and climbed up a small tree outside a cantina. He coughed and caught his breath, panting, hot and sweaty. He’d only just escaped. But the thrill of running was not to be believed.
Back at the motel, he saw the angry red bruises and scrapes, and remembered he’d fallen and called out to Heaven when he heard the snort of the rampaging bull behind him.
Despite the approaching night, Garrod took the last bus back, and at midnight he stumbled into his apartment, sank onto the bed, and slept the sleep of the dead.
He awoke to a loud knocking on the front door. He glanced at the bedside clock. Eight in the morning on Sunday. Who’d be knocking now? He dragged himself out of bed.
“Who is it?” he called out.
Here she was. Somehow he’d have to explain his escapade with the bulls instead of going to the Barrio with her yesterday. Would she forgive him? He opened the door.
“Inez, I’m sorry. I wanted to call and tell you about yesterday, but didn’t know how. I went to the bull running.” He stood aside. “Please come in.”
“You did what?” she squealed in obvious disbelief. “You could have killed yourself.”
Garrod nodded gingerly. “I discovered that very quickly. I didn’t tell you in advance because I feared you wouldn’t approve.”
She peered at him. “You look terrible.” A worried expression crossed her face. Then she looked around. “Where’s your kitchen. I’ll make coffee. You do have a coffee pot, don’t you?”
He pointed in the direction of the small space on the far end of the living room. “In the cabinet above the counter you’ll find the coffee grounds. The coffee maker’s in there, too. Give me just a minute. I’m going to wash and make myself presentable.”
By the time he showered and grabbed the towel to dry off, and pulled on shorts and a T shirt, the welcome aroma of freshly brewed coffee floated his way.
Taking mental inventory, he figured Inez was here to find out why he wasn’t around yesterday to go to the Barrio. Yet now she was making coffee and looked worried over his plight. Couldn’t be that she was interested in him in some way, could it? Because it wasn’t going to help. He was still carrying the torch for Jessica, when he should have thrown that torch out the window long ago, especially after the way she dumped him.