Oliver's Bull

Oliver's Bull

A Story by Beregond

A man and a boy's journey.


Thursday, May 28th


     Stepped outside the house, no longer myself. Put my sunglasses on. Noticed the afternoon sun glaring off the shiny roof of my car. Noticed the birds. Noticed the gravel chunks scattered across the black pavement, like cookie crumbs of industry. Noticed time and space, and order and memory, and understanding, and emotion. Noticed before and after. Decided that it was all a boring coincidence, most likely not to be understood or dwelled upon by me, or by anyone. Looked around for a minute with my hands on my hips. Got into the car. Drove.

     Eased onto the road. The city surface streets would be packed this time of day, so opted for the freeway. Remembered only briefly that I was scheduled to work at 6pm. Realized this was unimportant. It left my mind as soon as it had come. Kept driving.

     Took the interstate south. Watched the sun as it slowly descended into my eyes. Pushed my sunglasses up a bit to keep it out. Chose the five over the 99 when the interstate split. Knew it would carry me further. Recognized the decision was subconscious, hardly registered. Got to the edge of town. Kept on keeping on.

     Stayed at the speed limit. By 4pm the road had become a four lane; kept to the middle, not wanting to pass, nor wanting to stay in the slow zone, unwilling to commit to one extreme or the other. Rolled down the window and stuck my head out briefly. Tried to drive by looking from outside the window, and realized it didn't work. Let my hair blow any direction it wanted, get messed up in the wind. Surfed with my hand. Up and down. Furrowed my brow and thought.

     Pulled over to the side of the road around 7pm. Wondered where I was. Figured it was somewhere outside of Fresno. Noticed I would have to get gas sooner or later, and that I was a little hungry. Smoked a cigarette. Took a brief piss. Walked along the side of the road and watched the sun as it began to tuck itself behind the horizon. Noticed that the colors along the sunset were slightly different here than up north. Cried. Changed. Latched onto that feeling like a violent addiction. Stomped my cig. Got back into the car. Drove.

     Drove until 2am, stopping only once for gas. Found a rest area on the side of the road north of Los Angeles. Parked my car and got out. Strolled along the vending machines and past the public bathroom. Noticed an R.V. parked in back, all the lights off. Wandered off the pavement, into the small wooded area to the west of the stop. Found a clearing where I couldn't hear the freeway so loud. Laid down in the grass and watched the moon move slowly through the sky. Helped a few mosquitoes survive by letting them bite me. Felt content. Felt sleepy. Slept.


Friday, May 29th

     Woke up sore. Decided I could get used to that. Smiled a very real smile before getting into the car and leaving the rest stop.

     Turned up the radio. Managed to get a few L.A. stations to come in decent as I drove into the city. Kept the windows down. Smelled the city. It smelled like busy, like stressed and phony. It smelled like new. Liked it, in its own way. Looked into the sun for a second, and took a random road at an interchange. It took me west, which I knew would lead to water. Decided it didn't matter. Kept driving.

     Smelled the ocean before I saw it. The ocean smelled like it didn't belong anywhere near the city. Smelled like everything cool and fresh and unaltered by advancement of time. Smelled like it would go on, regardless. Liked that smell, and that feeling immensely. Got out for a few hours, to stroll down the beach. Noticed a lump in my pocket that wasn't my wallet. Realized it was my phone, that it had been silenced since yesterday. Looked at the screen, but didn't really read the names attached to the calls I'd missed.

     Turned the phone off. Walked up to the surf. Knelt softly in front of an incoming wave. Closed my eyes and gently offered the phone to the ocean. The ocean accepted the phone without thanking, without reacting. It continued being the ocean, despite what I'd done. Decided I really liked the ocean because of that. Took a picture in my mind. Allowed a tear or two to roll down my cheek. Got into the car and took back to the road.

     Headed back into the city as traffic clogged the streets. Looked out my window and saw the people in their cars, honking and shouting and stressing and zipping wildly from emotion to emotion. Smiled politely at a woman in a business suit to my right. Received a dirty look in return. Changed. Tried to understand. Took another random freeway and ended up heading east. Felt the sun on the back of my neck as I accelerated.

     Got gas at a station near a small diner an hour or two into the night, a few hundred miles into the desert. Bought a tank of gas and a strawberry muffin. Walked along the alleyway between the buildings and took a few bites of the muffin while I looked at the stars. They were clearer here than in the city, where all the people drown them out with their own lights. Noticed Orion, the easiest constellation for me to spot. Traced it with my finger while closing one eye. Wondered about the other constellations. Decided I'd really like to see the southern cross, the one you can only see from South America or Australia. Contemplated. Thought. Chewed my muffin.

     Heard a noise across from me, behind the diner. Walked over and noticed a young boy looking for scraps of food in a dumpster. Startled him by asking his name. He told me he didn't know it, but he liked to call himself Oliver, like that famous orphan. Gave Oliver the rest of my muffin and smoked a cigarette while we talked.

     “Where did you start out, Oliver?”

     “I dunno. It doesn't go back that far.”

     “Where does it go back to?”

     “I guess it goes back to my old town. There was a woman there.”

     “A woman? Your mom?”

     “No. Not my mom. But a woman. I don't really remember.”

     “And she took care of you?”

     “Maybe so. I just remember she had pretty hair. And she always wore beads around her wrist. We liked to talk about things.”

     “That sounds nice.”

     “What about you? Where does it go back for you?”

     “It doesn't go anywhere anymore. Now I'm free.”

     “Does it go back to a town even? To a woman?”

     “I suppose it does.”

     “Okay. So where does it go forward to?”

     “I dunno. Where does it go forward for you, Oliver?”

     “Well, I heard they have these bulls in Texas, fake ones. You can ride them for fun, and try not to fall off.”

     “They do. But those are for grown ups.”

     “I don't wanna ride one. I just wanna see.”

     “Is that our forward?”



     “I guess.”


     Held Oliver's hand and led him across the alleyway and back to my car. Drove us a few miles and stopped to get some rest. Told him he could sleep in the car if he wanted, but that I was going out to the field. Wasn't surprised when he opted for warmth and soft upholstery. Walked across an enormous stretch of farmland and laid down amongst some weeds. A few of them made my back itch. Decided to try and ignore it. Wondered why Oliver wanted to see the bulls so bad. Smiled thinking about it. Slept.

Tuesday, June 2nd

     Shaken awake by Oliver just before dawn. Drove us a little closer to Santa Fe to a nearby coffee house. Bought myself a mocha and Oliver a hot cocoa. Asked Oliver to choose a dirt road- had come to learn he was good at choosing them. Took a quick right when Oliver shouted it out at the last minute. Drove a little too crazy, to make Oliver laugh. Noticed the plateau in the distance, and the cacti near the horizon. Sat on the roof of the car with Oliver and watched the sun make its way into the visible world.

     “So what else do you remember about your town? About your woman?”

     Oliver thought about it. “Not a whole lot. Things come and go.”

     “Like what?”

     “Like her laughing. It was really pretty, like singing. Or like pretty pictures of things.” He pointed out at the expanse before us. “Like that.”

     “That sounds wonderful. Did she laugh a lot around you?”

     “When she was happy, she laughed all the time. During the best parts, she was always laughing and smiling. Not because something was funny, or for any reason, but just because.”

     “Why was that?”

     “She just said that the world was worth smiling about. It made her happy to think of it.”

     “And was she always happy?”

     “No. There were times she was sad. Then her face would look like rain. I didn't like when that would happen. But she said it was the way things were.”

     “I suppose that was true.”

     “Do you think so?”

     Thought about my answer for a long time. “Yes. Things aren't always like pretty pictures, Oliver.”

     The boy sipped his cocoa and looked out at the sun, which was almost totally visible now.

     “Where does it go, I wonder? When it's not with us?”

     “It goes to help the others see.”

     “What others?”

     “All the others in the world.”

     “That's nice, I suppose.”


     Smiled a very real smile before getting back in the car and heading back to the highway with Oliver. Deliberated with him before deciding we could head south now and make our way to Texas. Watched him breathe on the glass and write his name. Squinted in the sun and checked the rear view mirror. Accelerated and turned the radio up. Laughed at how beautiful I found nothing in particular. Breathed. Lived. Drove on.

     Stopped at a shopping center along the road that afternoon. Bought a big submarine sandwich for Oliver and I to share. Passed an electronics store on the way back to the car. Did a double take as I noticed my own face on the screen. Stared at it for a minute, unable to comprehend, deliberately not reading the words on the screen. Took a deep breath. Walked back to the car. Handed Oliver the sandwich. Drove.


     Chewed in silence as I drove. Every once in a while the sparse trees would flash us a bit of green, but brown took over most everything we saw Brown and tan, and burnt orange. And blue, the constant blue of the sky. Thought about the thing I'd seen on the television before. Felt strong and powerful emotions passing through my body. Wondered what they meant. Had the thought that people rarely take the time to recognize the enrichment in fully embracing a powerful feeling, even if it's negative. Embraced mine. Pushed my shades back up on my face to keep the sun out. Glanced at the enormous mesa to my right side, miles off in the distance. Faced the windy road, and tried to stay focused on it. Lit a smoke, and flicked the ashes out the window as I drove.


Thursday, June 4th

     Ran out of money around 10am while buying a final tank of gas. Got off the freeway and drove with our last quarter tank into the farmlands outside the Texas border. Managed to sell the car to an old farmer who could use it as a commuter. He agreed to take us back to the freeway, and not to turn in the paperwork for a month or two. Gave him a deal on it, considering. Looked at Oliver as we watched the car drive away for the final time. Noticed no serious emotion on his face. Figured he'd known the luxury would run out eventually. Figured I had too. Decided to continue not thinking about any of it.

     Walked along the road, Oliver following a few paces behind, our thumbs sticking out into the road, sweat drenching our foreheads and underarms. A car would pass every few minutes. Hoped for a lonely trucker, if anything, to pick us up. Saw a sign that said “El Paso 347”. Breathed. Lived. Walked on.

     “It's really hot.”

     “I know. I remember when it used to be colder.”

     “Was that when you were with the woman, Oliver? The smiling woman?”

     He kicked a few pebbles into the street as he walked. “Yeah. I think so.”

     “What did she do for you, anyway? Did she take care of you?”

     “Now that I think of it, she probably did. I remember thinking she was important. Like I couldn't be on my own.”

     “But you remembered how afterwards.”

     “Not remembered. I don't remember before.”

     “How did you go away from her?”

     “It doesn't matter now. As long as we get to the bull.”

     “You still really want the bull?”

     “Yeah. Don't you?”


     Walked along the road for most of the afternoon. Picked up finally around six by a very sweet woman truck driver. Rode with her into the night and listened to her stories. Asked her about the bull. Learned that the bull could be found in New Mexico. Decided with Oliver that Texas was just as important. Gazed out the window into the oncoming night and thought. Wondered why anyone would smile for no reason, almost all the time. Wondered what kind of person it was that Oliver knew. Leaned my head against the glass pane and slept.


Friday, June 5th

     Got back on the road and started walking again early the next morning, the sun low in the sky, but burning hotter than ever. The truck driver was headed the wrong direction, away from Texas. Considered taking a bus the rest of the way, but opted to save our money instead. Noticed the wind had kicked up a bit, taking the edge off the sweltering heat. Stopped at a gas station and sprayed each other with the water hose. Ran back to the road and laughed to imagine being picked up soaking wet. Celebrated when we passed a sign reading “El Paso 105”.

     Noticed around mid-afternoon that Oliver had gotten very quiet. Suggested we take a break if he was tired. Oliver insisted on continuing. Trudged on. Wiped the sweat from my brow. Walked backwards sometimes so I could stuck my right thumb out and give my left a break. Wondered what was on Oliver's mind. Figured he'd tell me eventually.

     Passed a cheap motel as the evening was closing in, and purchased a room for the night. Tried to sleep on the mattress, and felt much more comfortable on the floor. Oliver curled up on it gladly, and we both laid down to sleep nice and early after a snack. Couldn't sleep. Knew we'd be in Texas tomorrow, with any luck. Started awake at around midnight when Oliver roused me with his voice.

     “What is it, Oliver?”

     “Can I ask you something?”


     “What if we find more than just the bull when we get there? What if we find something else?”

     “I don't know our forward, Oliver. Neither do you.”

     “But I know what goes back. I know the bull was my idea.”

     “Don't worry about it. We're free from all of that.”

     “But what if we're not?”

     “We are. I promise.”

     Hoped he believed me. Knew he'd see soon enough. Slept.


Saturday, June 6th

     Picked up by another trucker around 2pm a few miles from where we slept. Rolled across the Texas border that afternoon, and headed into El Paso. Felt the subtle increase in humidity that had been hinted at for miles. Wiped our brows with damp, wilted sleeves. Hopped out at a truck stop and thanked our driver, who was heading across into Louisiana. Asked about the nearest bar, and were pointed down the street.

     Oliver took my hand as I walked with him. He was shaking, as was I. The dry lavender sunset splayed before us, the light slowly escaping from the street and being replaced with modest street lamps. We trudged toward the light and felt like giants. Felt my body surging with emotion at the thought of my immediate forward. But something nagged at me, like a jagged dull blade against my navel. It felt like from back before. But I didn't remember back before. Chose, as had always worked for all I could remember, to keep it out.

     We walked through the threshold and into the light of the bar. There it was- the mechanical bull, virulent creature of metal, swaying back and forth, attempting with increasing intensity to eject its partner from the position of dominance, to claim once and for all the title of solo victor. The rider had restrictions- they could only hold on with one hand. But so did the bull, for no matter how many times the bull succeeded in vanquishing its opponent, there would always be another, and another, until the bull's parts rusted, and it disintegrated from existence...

     The bull was beautiful, I decided. Decided...


Noticed her from behind the bull, leaning against the bar with her head partially in her hands, shot of whiskey quite unattended at her side. Her hair was as perfect as I remembered it. The beads around her wrist clinked together and brushed against her face as she held it. Her presence hit me like a shock wave.  Imploded in that moment, all the forward and back and everything that I could and couldn't understand crashing in on me at once. Suddenly, I knew where it went back, all the way to the beginning of time. I knew every little detail of before and every little thing up to now. My soul slammed into itself at full force, and I was knocked off my figurative feet with a bang. I remembered everything she said to me that day, every exact word, her voice like the sound of rain, nothing like pictures of pretty things...

     “It's over.”

     “How can that be?”

     “I won't love you anymore.”

     “You can say that, but you do love me. If you leave, I won't care about anything. I'll have nothing to keep me in the world.”

     “You can say that if you like, but I know you'll just go out and pout and go back to yourself.”

     “You're wrong. You are all there is for me. I can't ever go back to my life without you.”

     “Live your life. I'm going to stay with my family for a while. I've already packed my things.”

     “I love you. Don't kill me.”

     “I won't kill you. But it just can't be anymore. I'm sorry, darling. I'm going to El Paso.”

     “You'll kill me. I love you. Don't go.”

     “But I don't love you. This is how it has to be.”

     “Please, don't leave.”

     “Goodbye, Oliver....”



     ...Stepped outside the house, no longer myself. Put my sunglasses on. Noticed the afternoon sun glaring off the shiny roof of my car. Noticed the birds. Noticed the gravel chunks scattered across of the black pavement, like cookie crumbs of industry. Noticed time and space, and order and memory, and understanding, and emotion. Decided that it was all a boring coincidence, most likely not to be understood or dwelled upon by me, or by anyone. Looked around for a minute with my hands on my hips. Got into the car. Drove.



© 2009 Beregond

Author's Note

Rather experimental for me, but I ended up satisfied with the result. Of course, the omission of most subject pronouns was deliberate, and hopefully it wasn't overly confusing or distracting.

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Very good indeed.
A a great story. I love the format.
Awesome write.

Posted 11 Years Ago

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1 Review
Added on July 20, 2009
Last Updated on July 20, 2009



Sacramento, CA

I'm an English major and aspiring writer out of Northern California. Besides writing, I like reading, learning, nature, fitness, drinking, and exploring the experiences in this world I've never had. .. more..

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