The Death of Mad Bull
by Peggy Dustin
Even for an Ogre, he’s big. Not just big, as in tall, big, but big as
in muscle-ey big. He looks like one giant deformed muscle. You know
that breed of cows that are so muscle-bound that they can’t even walk?
Yeah, he looks just like that. He’s a freak.
He acts like one of them bulls too. Always snortin and pawing if you
get in his way or if you even look at him wrong. So, you just gotta
stay out of his way. At least, that’s what people say. I think they say
it cause it sounds like it’s an easy thing to do. I suppose it is if
you don’t live in his same building like me, my family or the rest of
And although he’s big, and mean and ornery, my dad isn’t really afraid
of him like everyone else. But then my dad ain’t really scared of much.
Maybe ‘cause most people are kind ‘a scared of my dad. Now don’t
misunderstand, my dad’s not mean or a bully like Mad Bull. He’s not
even very big. He says I’m a lot like him. I guess that’s true cause
every year for class pictures I’m always on the font or middle
row—never in the back like the tall kids. Anyway, my dad’s a fighter. I
don’t mean, he’s always getting into fights. I mean he’s a professional
fighter. And he’s pretty good at it. Says he’s been doing it a long
time, so he should be. Most people out on the streets know my dad is a
fighter so they don’t really mess with him, and even though, like I
said, I’m smaller than most kids my age, and don’t like fighting at
all—‘cause of him, they don’t mess with me either.
I think you got to be able to think in order to be afraid. And like
most Ogres, he doesn’t seem to do much of that, so he’s not afraid of
nothin’. We live up above him so we’ve always been his favorite
Sometimes when me and my brother get to playing rough and loud, he’ll
come bounding up those stairs, with his usual huffing and snorting and
bang so hard on our door that you can see it shake. My dad though, he
seems to be able to calm him down like no one else. One time I asked
him how come Mad Bull acts somewhat reasonable with him.
Dad says you got to get to know a person. You gotta study them. Know
where they come from and how they came to be. And then when you
understand them, you know how to beat them. I was real small the first
time Mad Bull came huffing up the stairs. Banging on our door. Mad Bull
wasn’t so mad then, nor was he as big. But cause Mad Bull was saying
some mean things about us, it wasn’t just Mad Bull that was yelling and
threatening. After a few minutes of that, Dad figured if the two of
them continued handling things the way they were, someone was going to
end up throwing a fist and hurting somebody. Dad knew he might get a
bloody nose out of it but he also figured Mad Bull was going to get the
worst of it. So instead, he told Mad Bull to hold up. He runs to the
back room and grabs his headphones. “Here,” he hands them to Mad Bull.
“I got kids and they are gonna’ rough house. Kids got to be kids. So
sometimes when things get too much, I use these. Since I ain’t planning
on going no where and you ain’t either, here, you take ‘em.” He holds
the headphones out to Mad Bull. “When things get too much for you, you
put these on and drown out the noise. The kids will probably pipe down
in no time and then you can take ‘em off.” But Mad Bull doesn’t take
them. “What about when I want to watch my programs? What ya gonna do
then, huh?” Mad Bull asks.
“You just turn this knob on the side and it tunes into your station and
the viewer turns on. Like this.” Dad showed him how to properly use
Mad Bull just stood there like he wanted to fight but knew he couldn’t.
He had been beaten by someone who understood him. Finally he took the
headphones. He put them on and turned them up so loud Dad could hear
and see the program himself. Mad Bull smiled and then walked back
But that was when he was not so big and not so mad. Did I say that
already? Anyway, the uninterruption lasted for a long time. Dad says
the bigger Ogres get, the meaner they get, until they get so mean, they
either get kicked out of society or they go find a secluded place on
Anyway, every now and then Mad Bull will forget about the earphones and
we’ll hear him stomping up the stairs. Dad does his best to meet him at
the door, remind him about the earphones. That usually ends the
argument. Until two weeks ago.
That day we heard him coming. So Dad did what he usually did and waited
for him at the door. But this time, when Dad opened the door, he was
met by a large fist in the face. It knocked him back onto the floor. I
ran over to dad and Mad Bull came charging after me. He picked me up
and threw me aside. I slid across the floor, and came to a stop
underneath the kitchen table. I looked over. My gaze resting on Mad
Bull. His face, it was rage. It was hate. It was...crazy mad. He picked
up my dad and slammed him against the floor. Yelling at him about the
noise that’s been going on above his head and how he better keep it
under control. But my dad didn’t hear, cause my dad was out. I picked
myself up and ran over trying to push Mad Bull off my dad. But he
didn’t budge. Instead, he grabbed me and began yelling in my face about
the intolerable noise always going on up here and how he can’t think or
watch his programs.
I heard a noise in back of me. I turned. My dad lay there staring at us.
“I can’t take him. I can’t do anything to stop him.” He said to me. “You know what to do.” I nodded.
“Mister.” I said. Trying not to cry out from the pain of his grip
around my arms and how scary it was to have that raging face so close
to mine. “Mister. Do you remember the headphones my dad gave you? The
ones that drown out the noise? Do you remember? Do you remember how
they drown out the noise so much that it lets you sleep and watch your
programs and so you don’t hear nothing?”
I saw his eyes squint. As if he actually had a thought. His grip
loosened. I continued. “Maybe I can help you find them so you don’t
hear no more noise.”
He pushes me aside. “I don’t need no help, kid.” He glances at my dad
like...like he almost felt bad. “You just better make sure you keep the
noise down up here, or next time....” He turns and leaves.
I called the police and an ambulance. Mom and my little brother met us
at the hospital. Mom says the doctors said Dad was going to be okay
although he had a broken nose and a slight concussion. They wanted to
keep him under observation for a few days.
Mad Bull got arrested. I hoped this would be the thing that got him expelled from society.
We visited my dad a lot for the next few days. Every time I’d see him,
lying in that bed with a bandage across his nose, it made me mad and
“What was going to happen when we got home and Mad Bull is there?” I asked my mom.
“Don’t you worry about that.” She said. “He’s probably in jail and will
be there for a while. And when he gets out, we’ll tell the building
management about his time in jail. Our building code doesn’t allow
people with a police record to live there, so he’ll be kicked out.”
But that didn’t seem to satisfy. There was something inside of me
buildin’. It made me mad. It made me want to hit somebody, mad. It made
me want to hit anybody who looked at me wrong, or startled me or
touched me. It made me mad like...Mad Bull mad.
But hittin’ never seemed to help that anger go away. It just got me in
trouble. My teacher suggested maybe its cause who I really wanted to
hit was Mad Bull.
That night when we all got home from visiting Dad, we walked past Mad
Bull’s apartment. I stopped. I could hear his T.V. I glanced at my mom.
She wrapped her arm around me, “It probably never got turned off from
when...well. Yeah, I’m sure that’s it.”
But then, the door suddenly flew open and out he came carrying a bag of
garbage to take to the incinerator. We all froze. He didn’t even seem
to see us while he humphed and snorted his way to the basement.
Mom quickly gathered us and rushed us upstairs. She took our balls and
toys and hid them. Then made us sit quietly with her until it was time
That night, as I lay in bed I thought about a lot of things. But mostly
I thought about my dad laying in the hospital bed and how I never
wanted that to happen again.
The next day, we were supposed to all go to the hospital to pick Dad up
and bring him home. Mom was real excited. I told her I wasn’t going.
She seemed real sad until I told her I wanted to do something nice for
dad and get the house ready for him. That seemed to brighten her up a
I asked for some money so I could go to the store and get dad’s
favorite snacks. After they left, I grabbed my brown jacket and instead
of going out the front went through Mom and Dad’s room and down the
fire escape. It seemed to work all right. I cut through the playground.
It was pretty busy. And then ended up at The Lookout. Then turned
around and went back to the neighborhood market. Greeted Mr. Riley.
Told him my dad was coming home today and wanted to get some nice
treats for him. Mr. Riley asked me a few more questions. After I picked
out my snacks, Mr. Riley smiled and said I didn’t owe him a thing. How
about that? He said everyone looked up to my dad and wished him well. I
promised to tell my dad what he said. I knew Mom and Dad would be real
happy about that.
I left my front door ajar when I got back. After putting the groceries
away I got my soccer ball and began practicing. I thought I would see
how hard I had to bounce it before it would hit the ceiling. I was
planning on practicing for as long as it took. Soon, I was jumping and
bouncing the ball off the walls, the ceiling, the floor, as hard and as
fast as I could.
That was until I heard those heavy, angry footsteps coming up the
stairs. I heard him yelling and cussing. I dropped my ball by the
hallway door, which led down the stairwell, leaving that door also
slightly ajar. I was already downstairs. I would let him see a glimpse
of me, my jacket the whites of my shoes just before disappearing around
the corner into the crowd.
I made sure he saw me as I ran towards the park, ducking behind
shrubbery and people as I made my way. The slide, that was just for
fun. I really didn’t have time to get in line and slide down, expecting
him to follow me. I mean, if he saw me, he’d probably grab me out of
the line or just wait at the bottom of the slide for me So I had some
kid trade jackets. Told him to wait until I gave him the signal. When I
saw Mad Bull coming I told the kid to start climbing the ladder and get
to the top of the slide real fast. Mad bull was so intent, he actually
climbed up, shoving kids out of his way. It was the least I could do,
let him have a little fun. Too bad he didn’t take a minute to just
enjoy it. When Mad Bull was sliding down I had the kid give me my
jacket back, quick like. My dad gave me that jacket. I was off to the
Once again, I let him see me from a safe distance. I made sure he was
still in pursuit and off I went again. As I approached the shrubbery, I
let him get close. I had to. I could hear him huffing and snorting
behind me. He was slower than I expected. I let him get close enough to
keep him distracted, you know, close enough that he was sure just a few
more steps and he would have me in his mad bull claws. Keep him
thinking just one more step. Close enough that he wouldn’t see anything
else around him. I was getting real nervous the closer I got to the
shrubbery. Nervous, he’d come to his senses, look up and stop.
But that never happened. I dived into the shrubbery, grabbing onto the
base of the bush and swinging myself around and back up. I heard him
push through the brush behind me. I heard him jump with me and then I
heard him yell as he realized there was nothing underneath him. By this
time I had my feet up on the ledge and I was watching Mad Bull. I
watched him frantically grab for something, anything. His yelling
building into more than yelling but screaming as he realized his
frantic reachings were futile. I saw the terror on his face build. I
heard the scream that recognized this was death.
It’s kind of a tricky place, the drop off. You wouldn’t know it was
there cause all the thick shrubbery blocking the way. My friends, we go
there sometimes and drop things to see how long it takes to hit and if
it splatters or not. Some of them say it’s almost a mile down. I don’t
know if that’s true, ‘cause you can make out the ground below. Dad says
he heard of someone actually surviving it. Wasn’t sure if they were
human or not though and even then, they couldn’t really do much
afterwards. The only thing is, I didn’t watch Mad Bull hit. And, well,
Mad Bull being so strong and an Ogre and all—What’s gonna happen if he
survives that fall?
© 2020 Peggy Dustin
Bio: Peggy is a lover of hiking in the beautiful and majestic
mountains of Salt Lake City, and a self-titled Hot Chocolate
connoisseur. She has been writing for the last 10 years as a member of
The King’s English Writing group.
She also has experience publishing, (formatted, designed and printed) a
small quarterly newsletter for six years. She has multiple short
stories of Fantasy and Science Fiction, with two completed novels.
Comment on this story in the Aphelion Forum
Return to Aphelion's Index page.