BY THOMAS O’ CONNELL
They wondered what became of the American Matador. They had stopped reading the obituaries long ago.
The sand dunes outside the kitchen window are covered with snow this evening. Spiced apple cider warms in the crock-pot with clove-pierced oranges bobbing in the liquid. Can you remember the days when none of the cottages were winterized? Owners would unplug all the appliances and shutter the windows by Columbus Day, Hallowe’en at the latest.
The houses were full all summer.
The summer folk would gather nightly on someone’s deck overlooking the bay, clutching tumblers of sangria. It wouldn’t be long before the matador would perch on the deck railing with a fondue fork and a beach towel, ready to fend off charging demons. Women picked geraniums from the window boxes, clenching them between their teeth or tucking them behind an ear. When a beast was slain, the matador would want to drive into town to taunt the local boys in the Dairy Queen parking lot. Sand was spread like sawdust across the deck when sangria spilled.
As the night wore on, somebody would hide the matador’s shoes and car keys. When he passed out, they would drape a string of Christmas lights over him like a blanket; colored lights programmed to blink, one golden bulb glowing against his cheek.
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Thomas O’Connell is a librarian living in the mountains of southwestern Virginia whose short fiction has appeared in The Broken Plate, Caketrain, Staccato Fiction, and Sleepingfish, as well as other print and online journals.
Thought this fine, a great distillation of the ambience in gesture and detail.