Issue #64

Fall 2017

Rèti's Shop
or Five Red Bulls

by Emil Brägg

Five red bulls, one after the other, came waltzing into Rèti's shop.

Rèti was the proprietor of a china shop on the Marktgasse, the one with the yellow-and-pink striped awning next to the antiquarian bookseller.

Hardly had Rèti time to register his surprise when in they came and there stood, all five, hooves pressed together and nostrils flared with the effort of containing themselves in the too narrow confines of Rèti's tiny shop. Rèti would have fallen back in manifest alarm were it not for the gentle ringing of the bell above the shop door. How strangely comforting, how reassuring, the familiar tinkle which quietly signaled the arrival of the five; and how beguilingly these five red bulls, each with a gold ring in its nose, stood out against the displays of bone white china.

"You'd almost mistake them for porcelain," thought Rèti.

As so often happened with Rèti, when he tried to express himself it came out all wrong. "Come in, do," was all he said though the bulls were already in.

The bulls, not seeming to understand, only looked at Rèti with wide, with blinking eyes. Rèti was uncertain what more he could say to put the bulls at their ease but felt, all the same, compelled to talk on.

"Sirs, you are welcome in my humble shop. You can do as you please here. Do not feel pressured to buy. Browse to your hearts' content. I am here to answer any questions you might have concerning any of the fine articles you see on display before you."

One of the bulls, the one Rèti took to be the leader, kicked the floor with its hoof sending a cloud of dust swirling into the air and rattling the china on the shelves.

"I would only caution you, gentlemen," said Rèti in his most ingratiating manner, "please do be careful of the china. These articles, though valuable, are delicate indeed. My best advice to you, good sirs, is to look but not touch."

Rèti's words seemed to have little effect on the bulls. He thought it best to change the subject entirely.

"Do pardon an observation, gentlemen, but I find it uncanny how much alike you are. I can hardly tell you apart. Are you brothers? Not quintuplets, surely!"

One of the bulls lifted its tail letting the dung fall from its behind to land in a steaming heap on the floor of Rèti's shop; the others snorted in derision. One bull lowered its head and the others, following suit, lowered theirs. In perfect synchronicity, all five began to sway their heads from side to side. The white curvature of the bulls' horns moving to and fro was mesmerizing and Rèti had to catch himself just as he, too, was about to start swaying.

"Magnificent beasts," he thought.

But now the bulls had begun to snort and paw the ground with their hooves and the crystal ware had begun to rattle on the shelves. Rèti couldn't help but feel a little rattled himself. It occurred to him that he may have said too much already but now, surely, was not the time to play dumb.

"And why not stomp and snort?" he blurted out. "Far be it from me to stop a bull from doing what comes naturally to bulls!"

As so often happened with Rèti, he wanted to stop but couldn't.

"You are bulls, after all, and not ballerinas." he declaimed, raising his arms in the air. If it pleases you – good sirs, fine bulls – to wreak havoc on my little shop then, by all means, wreak havoc!"

Rèti scarcely had time for regret when the onslaught was upon him.

Author Bio

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Emil Brägg is a poet, a playwright, an erstwhile director of avant-garde theatre and a self-confessed dilettante. He is the author of Felicitations, a chapbook of literary miniatures, and the dramaticules Gina Lollabrigida, Ah But It Sings But it Sings Luvena, and The Hotchpotch Suite trilogy. He has appeared in numerous literary magazines, including Fiddlehead Magazine and Existere: A Journal of Art & Literature, Bateau Press and White Wall Review, and has been anthologized in both Rhubarb-O-Rama and Globale Heimat.ch: Transnational Encounters in Contemporary Literature. Emil divides his time between the city of Toronto and a remote island off the west coast of Canada.