Listen to Roland Goity read 'Cheval Noir'
The horses fidget and snort, restless, you watching them like a circling hawk above, from the sticky seats of the grandstand, ticket safely in pocket, a hefty wager on number six, Hellions' Night, the three-year-old thoroughbred you've followed for months, knowing of its scheduled encounter at the starting gate, today, now, in the tenth race, the day's last, with the jockey, a local rider of some renown, from Alhambra, aboard him, atop the mare that will turn your life around with a first-place finish, a bet for all the marbles, no place or show will do, not with your entire savings on the line.
It's a risky premise, but to succeed in life one must take risks, isn't that what your boss is fond of saying?, especially at the weekly sales meetings when forecasts are projected, exaggerations and outright lies are made, those meetings where you just sit and stare, not stare exactly, but envision, envision the gin-blossomy nose of your boss, Mr. Howard Walker, being bloodied, bloodied to a pulp, a ruby-red mélange, courtesy of you.
And now with your boss alongside, the whole sales team, in fact, in the grandstand with you, at the track, at the mandatory company outing, you withhold the arrogant snicker, the smug glee, of your imminent triumph, certain now that you're an Einstein on racetrack skinny, meaning you'll move on to brighter lights, while your co-workers return to the same-old, same-old, hours after sunrise tomorrow.
They're off, and indeed they are, and around the first turn your horse, Hellions' Night, of chocolate hue and impressive shoulders, is leading by a length, and in your head you're already scripting the encounter you'll have with Mr. Walker, explaining how your luck has changed and your fortunes are set for more days than you can possibly fathom, and you won't need to swindle any more suckers on his behalf, won't have to kowtow to the likes of him, not anymore, so good riddance—he can take the job and shove it.
It's Hellions' Night by two-and-a-half lengths now, and your pathway to a richly rewarding future has only three furlongs to go, but wait, there's a hint of trouble, coming up on the outside it's Cheval Noir, the forty-to-one shot, but oh come on, let's get real, these kinds of things don't happen, or maybe they do, because now the crowd erupts as the horses enter the stretch, and the two separate from the rest, your future in first, but the dark horse gaining fast, and now...nearly stride for stride...and now...
Cheval Noir by a nose!, not even a photo finish, losing tickets fly up in the air like confetti, though you still clutch yours, crumble it now, in your hand, disgusted with how things turned, those simple twists of fate, rendering life even more cruel than it already is, and as others stream for the exits, and the racetrack turns bare, a few guys from work pat your back and say, see you tomorrow, in the trenches, and Mr. Walker regards his ticket in smiling disbelief, then exclaims, I'm a winner!
About the author:
Roland Goity lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. His stories appear in a number of print and Web publications, including Fiction International, Scrivener Creative Review, Underground Voices, Bryant Literary Review, Talking River Review and decomP. He is fiction editor of the online journal LITnIMAGE (www.litnimage.com).
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