Extract from a roadtrip (ii)

Men in white Akubras perch on the rails above the chutes, on top of the danger, like so many cockatoos on an electrical wire.

One of the bulls, the smallest, paws at the earth in the centre of the ring. The clowns run in arcs past his shoulders, tempting, cajoling. “What do you say as a mother when your son tells you he’s going to be a rodeo clown?” someone asks and we shake our heads. The little bull chases them up fences and through gates but will not leave the ring. “Small man syndrome,” T and I say knowledgeably.

His first two riders cling to his back but the third he dislodges almost the moment he is out of the chute. I can’t see the corner of the yard from this angle so I imagine the rider scrambling away and wait for the bull to run past. One of the clowns appears above the heads of the crowd, floats up above the fence, one striped leg towards us, then vanishes again. A murmur flits from mouth to mouth. “He’s been tossed! A clown! 12 feet up, easy!” The bull is driven out of the corner and replaced with an ambulance that takes the clown away.


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