El Torito, as I said, was fiery and aggressive. This showed up in many ways. When we first acquired him, he looked round for something to beat up. The first thing that caught his eye was a 44 gallon drum partially filled with molasses up near the diary.
Perhaps he liked the smell, because molasses is what we used as a stock food supplement. His horns were a better shape than the ones on the bull in my previous illustration; more sturdy, wider angled and vicious. Much more like the ones shown here and now gone to the highest bidder on Gumtree, which I'm sure you'd love mounted above your fireplace with your Goya or Picasso bullfighting prints on either side.
|Classy combos for your fireplace|
|Genuine 44 gall drum|
A 44 gallon drum is incredibly versatile but its multitude of uses isn't the subject here. I'm all too familiar with them from working for Shell when a student as a storeman and packer on the Gladstone wharves in university vacations, but maybe another time. Back to El Torito.
My sister Lyn also tells me that one day in the "pepper" tree as we called the pepperina:
... I climbed up the sloping trunk to look at the baby possums in a nest in the first fork of the tree. I went to climb down and there he was looking up at me and shaking his head as if to say 'you come down and I'll toss you over the slip rails'. He would have too, more than likely. I had to yell until Dad heard and came and chased him off.
|The pride and joy of the family – the '57 ute|
Yes, you know what's coming so why describe it in detail? I won't. But here's the gist.
One fine day, El Torito had nothing to do in the romantics department, it seems. Canary daughter of Camembert (aka "Bertie") couldn't care less and Leila daughter of Lila daughter of Lily had a headache.
El Torito decided on some horn practice now the drumming option had closed, the 44 gallon drum having been put in the shed in case he decided to tango with it again.
But there was the shiny new car....
My mother saw the fruits of his labour first. Wisely, she chose to give Dad his lunch before acquainting him with the spectacle, knowing that he'd be so furious and upset that he wouldn't eat, and would remove El Torito's horns with the ring-barking axe, beginning at the neck.
That lunch probably saved El Torito from being flogged to within an inch of his life. Not being a student of Indian philosophy, Dad didn't always appreciate notions of dharma ("things act according to their nature") in terms of animal relationships with shiny new vehicles, although he did have his own concept of karma – of cause and effect. In this case El Torito had caused the rakings up and down both sides of the new car and the tailgate with horrifying effect, (although the bonnet, it must be said, survived miraculously intact) and Dad's view on the matter was El Torito should have known better.
He did not get off scot-free. Dad picked up a piece of perished rubber hosing that had been replaced in the milking machines, and belted him with it as many times and as hard as possible before El Torito retreated for the hills. Given the time lag between the vandalism and the flogging attempt, El Torito must have been as puzzled about my father's sudden choler as a puppy is when pee is discovered in the corner of the lounge hours after the deed is done, and Prince gets his nose rubbed in it.
Nevertheless, Dad couldn't afford to be too harsh on his expensive stud bull, knowing that El Torito had quite a ways to go yet before earning his hubby-price. That probably saved El Torito as well. Dad was nothing if not mindful of money.
There is a Part 3. I have not quite done with El Torito yet. The last chapter is about what happened when Karl, the red bull, entered the scene.