Sixteen to One

May 29, 2010
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I remember watching him tear up his ticket. I remember the girl that nobody saw that day. I remember the horse that won. I remember it all.


7:37 A.M.

“Hello. Room service, could you send up a Bloody Mary, two eggs, two pieces of toast, and some bacon.”

“Certainly, anything else for you Mr. Lancaster?”

“Is my suit out of the dry cleaner yet?”

“Yes, would you like that sent up as well?”

“Yes, thank you.”


7:58 A.M.

“Hello, room service, could you send up my dry cleaning, a grapefruit, and a bowl of cereal and a pitcher of milk. Two percent if you have it.”

“Certainly, anything else for you Mr. Connors?”

“No, that will be all thank you.”


8:18 A.M.

The knock from the door was hard and unexpected; though I did know they would be coming. I was slow to get up, my body was tired, and I was too excited to get much sleep the night before. I moved groggily towards the door, I wasn’t wearing anything, but I didn’t care, I was going to win big. I opened the door.

“Hello Mr. Connors. Your dry cleaning and breakfast.” He rushed in, his eyes were focused on mine the whole time, and my eyes moved down his ridiculous bell hop outfit, one of his buttons wasn’t done. He was a lazy boy and thought that nobody would notice or care if he didn’t do the bottom button, he would later be fired for this laziness. A shame really. He set up his trolley with my food at the foot of the bed, and he laid my suit on the bed. He started for the door, then stopped and waited for a tip. I gave him $100 for a job that deserved at most $12.65. I moved to the bed, took out the suit, and examined it. Upon deciding that they did the best job that could be possibly done at a hotel drycleaner, I hung it in my closet, next to the robe that I would steal and would later be used in a stranger’s suicide. I sat at the foot of the bed, I ate my food slowly, and I watched cartoons.


8:19 A.M.

The knock on Mr. Lancaster’s door echoed more, he was in a presidential suite. His mistress answered the door, wearing a robe that she brought with her; the hotel’s robes were too itchy for her. The same bell hop took them their food. He again rushed in but he moved the trolley to a table where he set a nice flatware set, two places, though only one would be used. He put the dry cleaning on a hook outside the bedroom door; he rushed to the door and again stood waiting for a tip. Ms. Moor, being the fiancé to a cheapskate, was also a cheapskate; she gave him $5. Mr. Lancaster came in; his voice was deep and deliberate.

“I got that food for you, please eat up, you’ll need it, it’s going to be a long good day.”


9:46 A.M.

“Mr. Connors, your cab is here.”

“Thank you.” The valet, too, received a large tip.

I got in, told the driver to take me to the Saratoga Race Course. The small cab moved out, a small black car followed close behind for Mr. Lancaster, it would end up in a pond later that day, and the driver would be given a DUI at 11 A.M.


10:12 A.M. to 8:23

My cab reached the course two minutes before Mr. Lancaster. I made my way to the betting booth. I put $12,045.43 on the horse Altair; he was a 16:1 long shot. The teller looked at me as if I was stupid, but what he really thought was finally someone who is really taking a risk. By the time I got my ticket, Mr. Lancaster was in line behind me to buy his. His money was put on Vanesa, the almost guaranteed winner; he put down ten thousand dollars on her. We made our way to the concourse; my seat was behind Mr. Lancaster’s. His short stature made it easy for me see the race. We both took our seats, I began to read, and he began a conversation with Ms. Moor that ended with her going to get him a martini. My book had me too involved to talk with Mr. Lancaster, yet.

She returned with his martini and a bag of candy for herself. I put my book down. I looked out over the track, Mr. Lancaster looked back at me, then out over the track.

“Hello, my name’s Lancaster, Fred Lancaster.”

“A pleasure,” I said “I’m William Connors, two first names; my parents cursed me with two first names.” My gaze moved to Ms. Moor, his followed but to him she did not exist, it was almost as if there was nothing next to him.

“Hmm, well it’s a mighty fine day for a race.”

“Certainly is.”

We stood there looking out over the course. I returned to my book, he sat and fiddled with his race program.


11:30 to 12:00

“William”

“Yes.” My eyes never left the book; he thought this to be a rude gesture so he continued in a louder voice.

“William, the race is going to start in half an hour.”

“Thanks” Still my eyes were fixed on the book. He continued to look at me, he was puzzled: how could someone have a conversation and read at the same time.

“How’d you sleep last night?”

“Fine,” I lied “and yourself?”

He was more truthful in his answer “Horrible, the excitement of today was just too much, like when a kid is about to go to Disney Land.” He was speaking out of experience remembering the time that he went from when he was 7 years old.

“Yeah, I know the feeling.”

“Well, I’m going to get a soda, would you like one, my treat.”

“Sure, a root beer please.”

He looked at me as if I were joking, “Alright, if you say so, be right back with it.” He didn’t go, Ms. Moor did. She left without a word being said. As she walked she was like a ghost, moving silently through the crowd, without brushing against a single person. He just sat down, and read through his race program for the third time. This time he looked at all the pictures. He was amazed at the artistry of all the horses. Each was hand-drawn, the detail was unbelievable.

Ms. Moor returned with the drinks. She handed him first the root beer. “Here you go my new friend.” I took it from him, looking up from my book now for the first time since 11:24. I took a sip and put it in the cup holder. I returned to my book. He took another martini from her, and she sat down with what looked like dark apple juice, he thought it was fine. It was actually Scotch, if he had known this he would have hit her, right there next to the race track.


12:00 to 12:04

A voice came from the speaker system. It was the voice of a young man, he turned 26 that year. His voice was clear and happy. He welcomed us to the races, he told us that the first race was about to start. The horses were in their gates, each was a little jumpy with anticipation. I thought it was weird, they seemed so human like, so ready, and then slowly one by one they calmed down, as if going into a pre-race prayer. Each jockey sat, on his horse, some were stroking manes, and others sat still and looked out over the track. Altair was number 6, Vanesa was 2. The crowd fell silent. I could almost hear the horses heavy breathe of anticipation, almost.

The gates flew open, the horses bolted from their gates, Vanesa took an early lead right from the get go, Altair was in the middle of the pack. They rounded the first turn, the crowd was yelling, the only words you could hear were the names of the horses, no verbs, no adjectives, nothing but the names. They rounded the second turn; they were on the stretch in front of us. For the seconds they were in front of us I could hear nothing. They seemed to slow down, what was only seconds lasted an hour. For Mr. Lancaster, on the other hand, they whizzed by, in what seemed to him a split second. He heard everything louder than it really was. Vanesa still held the front, but she was tiring. Her jockey thought she was still going strong; he pushed her a little harder to increase their lead. Altair was starting a slow hard push to the front, he edged his way forward past the third and second positions, and he was gaining on her. I never called his name, I never said a thing, I just watched. They rounded the first turn a second time. They were neck and neck. He gained on her during the stretch, he made his move and was in front of her by the time they entered the second turn. Mr. Lancaster fell silent. He simply stood and stared. His only thought was: No, I blew it. I had a small smirk on my face, I knew I had won. Altair finished the race in first, Vanesa did not even place. He crossed the finish line; I sat and returned to my book. Mr. Lancaster stayed standing, he took out his ticket. He stared at it, he lost a lot of money, and he tore his ticket in half, then half again. He took his martini glass, put the pieces of his ticket in it, he took out a lighter and burned it. He left his seat to go for a walk. He left the paper burning in that small glass; it glowed strong, and then slowly died. Ms. Moor sat, stared at the fire, and then at her Scotch, she drank all that remained, turned looked at me, and thought back to a time when Mr. Lancaster really did love her.


12:05 to 1:00

She was sitting when he returned, his glass had blackened paper in the bottom, the walls of the glass were charred, she was fixated on the winners circle, she was admiring the flowers being draped over Altair, and she thought back to the last time that Mr. Lancaster bought her flowers. He sat and looked down at the track, his eyes solemn and uncaring. She stared at him; her look was one of care and compassion. He looked up and again looked straight through her. Her gaze turned to one of hate and disgust. She stood and walked away, as she left her hand brushed my shoulder, she knew that I actually saw her; she thought I cared; she wanted me to take her away. The gesture stirred me from my trance, the book lost its hold on me, and I looked. I looked toward her, but she was already lost in the crowd. I looked back to my book, then at Mr. Lancaster. His eyes were blood shot, he’d been fighting back tears, he’s afraid. He lost, and he’s afraid. He wanted to say something, but he couldn’t form the words. “We all lose once in a while”

“Yeah”

“Cheer up, let me get you a drink, what’ll you have?”

“Dry martini, and make it dirty.”

“Alright, I’ll be right back with that.”

I got up to get the drinks. I walked towards the bar, I saw Ms. Moor sitting there, she had several shot glasses in front her, and only one is empty. I walked up and had a seat next to her. “A dry dirty martini, and a mojito please.” I looked at her, she looked back at me.

“My name is Rosaline Moor.”

“William Connors, it’s a pleasure.”

“A pleasure indeed.”

“What are you drinking?”

“No need, I’m not drinking these, they’re too strong.”

“If you say so.”

“Your drinks sir.” He set them down in front of me; I put the money on the bar. He thought that this was pitiful, someone trying to pick up a girl at the racetrack, he’d seen it before but he always thought it was a pathetic move.

I took a drink of my mojito, I looked at her. She really didn’t want to be there. I could see it in her eyes. She looked at me again.

“Get me out of here.”

“Stay here, for a minute; I have to bring a fool his drink.” She smiled as I said this. I stood and walked away. I reached my seat when the second race was finishing, I gave Mr. Lancaster his drink, and I picked up my coat and walked away. We would never see each other again. Mr. Lancaster would kill himself two weeks later after he lost everything on another race.

I returned to the bar where Ms. Moor sat, I put my coat around her shoulders; I sat and finished my mojito. Another shot glass was empty. I tipped the bartender and we left the track. I stopped first at the booth. I picked up my winnings, all $192,726.88 of it. She looked at the money, and knew she was making a good choice. I hailed a cab. We got in, and drove off.


After 1:01

I put my arm around her; she leaned in close against my body. The day was done, we went out for lunch, and we went to a movie. We went our separate ways. We met back up the next morning. We ran away together. I invested and my money exponentially increased. A year would pass in each other’s arms. We would get married.


After 1:00

Mr. Lancaster got up and walked out, he hailed a cab. He returned to his hotel room. He did not even notice that he was alone. He took off his shoes, and sat on his bed. He left and returned to this same hotel, same room two weeks later. He went to a race. He bet on Altair, he lost more money than he had. I remember the headline from that day. The paper was poorly run that day, the editors and producers were behind schedule, they took the best story they could. They ran it, and regretted it. Mr. Lancaster returned to his room. He was tired. He was afraid. He was ready to win, so he put down a sure bet, he bet his life against the ground 20 stories below. He won.





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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

JZWood This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 11, 2010 at 6:16 pm
Cool.  The parts the break from the story line to explain the future of random characters and objects it very creative--an almost signature worthy style. 
 
Cheesecake said...
Jun. 10, 2010 at 11:18 am
kept me guessing. totally didn't go where i thought it was going to. good piece. well written. i liked the action. -A
 
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