by Paul Perroni
The day's hot,
the field's dry, the hangover's heavy. Charlie
strolls up to the bar, takes a seat, and chats
with a fella.
name, bud," asks Charlie.
"You gonna bet
the 1, 5, 6?" he responds, not looking up
from his form.
"I thought I'd
get a drink first," says Charlie.
"Name's Ray. '2
outta 3 Ray' is what they call me. Bet the 1, 5,
three horses, Ray."
"Don't jinx it.
I got it this time."
"I bet you're a
worker, ain't ya, Ray?" says Charlie,
Tarrin- roofs, cuttin- lawns, workin- fields,
whatever I gotta do."
"Well shit, let's
do this, Ray," says Charlie. "Name's
Charlie, by the way."
Charlie takes a double shot of cheap whisky, hops
from the stool, and strides to the betting window.
he yells, "Bet the 1, 5, 6. Box those sons 'a
"I'm doing that
right now, Ray," Charlie says over his
shoulder, planting himself at the betting window:
"Hey good lookin:
Race 8, $5 trifecta with the 1, 5 and 6, please."
The tickets shoots from the printer, Charlie
gives it a flick with his middle finger, and
crosses back to the bar.
"Here's a cold
one, Charlie. You bet the 1, 5, 6?" he says.
"Sealed up, Ray."
The horn rings and the horses blast through the
The announcer thunders through the emptiness:
And they're off!
dammit," Ray keeping a keen eye.
There they go, looping around the first length,
the 1, 5, 6, stealing away!
Charlie watches as their hooves dig hard into the
hot dirt, working the field,
yells Ray, his tall beer foaming at the rim.
"Here they come!"
Ray hopping side to side.
The 1, 5, 6, strong in the lead, but the 6 and 8
are thundering up the path!
"Stay off that 6,
you son of a bitch!" Ray yells.
Half a length away from the finish, the 1, 5, 8,
6, and the 8 closing fast. The 6 explodes with a
burst of power, leaping ahead of the 8; the 8
comes back again, and the 6 flies through the air,
nothing could touch him!
"We got it, we
got it," cries Ray.
Charlie limps out through his drunken lips.
And it's the 1, 5, 6!
Ray falls to his knees:
"Ahhhh! I got it,
I got it. I did it!!"
Charlie stares at Ray and smiles.
"You got it, Ray,"
"It's 3:00 in
the afternoon, Ray."
"You can't eat
steak at 3:00 in the afternoon?" he says.
thought about steak at 3:00 in the afternoon,"
smiling from ear-to-ear, "I bet it's even
your ass, Ray."
"Can you pay? I
gotta show my old lady that I got it, that I'm a
winner, that I got it."
Ray and Charlie collect their winnings, dance
through the swinging doors, and make their way to
the parking deck. Ray gleaming the whole stretch
of the way. Nothing could touch him.