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Greyowl59
Grande Fellow
*****
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Archetypal Healer
Posts: 595
UK, England, Poole, Dorset
Gender: male
Novel - Two Lives. Chapter 2 - Infection. By Greyowl59 (Charles)
10/16/09 at 12:33:25
 
Football = Soccer

Two Lives

2 – Infection


Akeila, my organic alarm, wound her body about my bare legs, buffeted her soft head against my knees, purring like a jacuzzi. The pay-off for devotion was lack of feline respect for my body clock. Her stomach came first; she was reminding me that it was breakfast time, and that I had better get with the program. I staggered to the kitchen as she meowed louder.

The Siberian minx had me wrapped round her paw, and knew it too. I was there to cater for her every hunger, comfort, luxury and whim. She had it sussed; she owned me, not the other way round. Cats had pulled the strings in the ancient Egyptian civilisation, not Pharaohs.

As she smoothed her head against my calves, meowing, I poured the milk into a saucer, opened the sachet, and put the food into her bowl. She turned her nose up at all of it, and peered up at me like I was daft, perhaps searching for understanding.

Oh, so it was one of those February mornings. And why so bloody early on my birthday?

I raised an eyebrow, and fixed on Akeila. ‘Thanks for the happy birthday, tiger... This had better be worth it!’

She gazed back with her tabby head on one side.

‘Don’t give me the quizzical look, lady! OK – OK... you’re not so inscrutable.’

I padded to my computer, and sat on the swivel chair. Akeila leapt up to the desk, rubbed her face against mine, and waited with me, watching the screen. I logged on to the Racing Post website. Akeila prodded me with a paw.

‘OK...’

I exited that site and logged on to a pointing site. I had sold out on the promise I made to Maisie that day at Perth, that I’d go to a point-to-point. Standing around in the wind, rain and mud of Scottish winters? Not for me. With Sally gone, I didn’t feel like it anyway. And I ensured that work hours, study, earning from racing, returning to England, changing jobs and moving again got in the way.

I scrolled through the meetings for that day, by region. When I clicked on South West, Akeila head butted me.

‘OK... West country...’

I selected the nearest meeting, 15 miles away, first race 10am.

Head butt.

I viewed the first six races, and Akeila swished her tail. When I selected the last...

Head butt.

I listed the final race runners. As I wrote one down, Akeila rasped my hand with her tongue.

I reminded myself to thank Akeila for my birthday present, with a luxury dinner. And she could camp on me and purr as much as she liked, even if she did claw my thighs.

I closed the front door, slung my binoculars over my shoulder and strode to the silver BMW.

* * *

Akeila had wolfed down her breakfast and was dozing on my bed when I left. If she did want to go out she could use the new cat flap. And she could strut, hunt, dazzle the feline men folk, and inveigle food from neighbours again.

I was surprised to be making amends for self deprivation, whilst also honouring my old promise to Maisie. Which reminded me, she and Richard were moving to Gloucestershire, and I could soon see them more often. The thought warmed me like a gas fire. Now I was on the chalk of Dorset, heading for the Milborne St Andrew point-to-point.

I arrived, parked, left the locked Beemer and bounced off springy turf in the middle of the course. A temporary village dominated the cloudless skyline at the top of the slope in a field above. The candy stripe marquee where authority conducted the official business of the meeting dwarfed the tents and trade stands around it.

I ducked under the white posts and rails that skirted the amphitheatre of the racecourse. It was an undulating bowl, slotted into a lattice of hedges, with a copse obscuring the view of the far end of the circuit. I weaved through parked cars, pausing at one open boot to buy a race card.

With the first race approaching, I kicked through the sheep’s wool on the grass, heading for the parade ring. My neck tingled as I reached the rustic rails. I was back doing what I’d missed, because business had been at my home office or the firm’s office for months. Much as I enjoyed Akeila’s company, it was good to be going solo.

Grooms led the declared runners for the race around the paddock. Some spectators had their dogs with them around the rails. A Chow reared up, placed paws on my chest, stared at me with dark eyes in snowy fur, and licked my hand with a tongue that rasped like sandpaper. When I left the dog whined, barked and cried all at once.

I went back, petted the animal, spoke to the 40’s denim and Afghan-coated woman owner, smiling. ‘I’ve won a Chow.’

The owner replied, in a Somerset accent. ‘Bea loves men, and doesn’t care about me at all. She was my late husband’s dog, not mine. Mind you, she has fine taste ... Fancy a drink?’

Maisie did say go for it. Why not. I suggested the bar tent, before the ferret race.
 
The woman laughed. ‘So you’ve used UK-Jumping.com.’

‘Simon McInnes’s site? The online Bible for the country racegoer?’

‘That’s the one.’

‘Often.’

The woman beamed. ‘I’m Rosalind. Call me Roz if you like.’

‘Will do, I’m Stuart.’

‘The bar after the last proper race will be fine Stuart.’

‘Good.’

Roz pondered horses she was looking at.

‘Isn’t Sea Kale adorable?’

I glanced at my race card.

‘A mare. I love her to bits.’

‘Perhaps I can trade Bea in, and buy the horse.’

‘I wish you luck with that one.’

‘Mmmm... someone’s investment as a brood mare.’

I summarised what I’d concluded..

‘Stout breeding... From a late-maturing jumping family... Will need 3 miles plus... Powerful stable.’

Roz eyed me, and raised an eyebrow.

‘I’m impressed! She has star quality too.’

‘Mmmm... something about her. She won’t win today, over two and a half miles. You know your subject too.’

‘My father trained point-to-pointers, and my husband worked with show jumpers. Horses on the brain, that’s me.’

‘I got the infection early too.’

Roz nudged my arm and pointed to two women nearby.

‘Check those two out.’

They were both wearing furs, and stood facing each other, glasses of champagne in hands. The one on the right had black hair. She surveyed the course, smiling, and remarked in a posh accent that it was beautiful.  

The auburn haired woman on the left agreed, and then asked. ‘It took two hours to get out of here last year. Are you staying late today, Cynthia?’

Cynthia sipped champagne before replying. ‘Yes Donna, I want to see the flat race.’

Donna wrinkled her nose, stuck it in the air, and creased her face. ‘Surely you’re not watching that? Bloody ferret racing!’

Simon McInnes, in his column in the long defunct Sporting Life, and now on his website, referred to the flat as ferret racing.

‘I know Donna, she has no taste. Sacrilege!’

I laughed.

‘A flat race here is as out of place as that pink ice cream van next to the paddock, serving Whippy 99’s in February. I ask you...’

Roz eyed me, laughing and warm.

‘...Or Bournemouth without the sand and pier.’

I replied. ‘Here – here!’

Charity fund raising was the sole justification for today’s furry predator race. The runners would gallop between the running rails and the straw bales that marked out the circuit, avoiding the 9 birch fences that looked like inverted moustaches.

I didn’t want to watch a mile and a quarter race without obstacles. And now I captivated myself in memories of when I was less than ten years old. I was in joy and awe as Persian War, with shaggy mane, stormed up the hill to win the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham; in black and white on TV, in the 1960’s. It sidelined me from the other history encroaching on my mind, which was painful. Racing did that to me, it brought it all back.

Above, PA speakers straight out of His Master’s Voice blared, and shook me out of dreaming. The commentator started giving his run down on the forthcoming race. The field for the first thundered past from left to right, in a flash of racing colours, as they cantered to the start.

Roz chirped. ‘I’ll meet you at this spot again later Stuart. I’m going to catch up with some owners. Oh... and find someone you must meet.’

‘I’m intrigued... See ya...’

She knew something about me and was cooking up a scheme. I knew it, like I used to with Sally.

When Roz left, Bea cried and tried to follow me in the opposite direction, dragging her owner after her.

‘Seeing as Bea wants to be with me…’

Roz handed the lead to me. ‘She’s all yours, the big softy.’

I took the hound to the rails of the home straight. She watched, as intent as her owner had been earlier. The race was for maidens, horses which had never won a race, and aged four to six years old. I had discounted three of the seven entries, and now eliminated another; a mare, who was wild-white-eyed, running sideways crab-like, baring her teeth and drenched with sweat.

As Sea Kale went by, Bea scratched my right thigh.

‘Not you as well!’

She stared at me, knowing. It was written all over her face.

I consulted the racecard, and checked the comments I wrote on it earlier about another horse as he passed, King Lok.
     
‘On his toes, raring to go, looks the fittest and the winner.’

The horse strode out with a sound action. He was favourite, and I wanted value that wasn’t available in this race, so I didn’t bet. I wanted to see how Sea Kale performed. She was a picture; her bay coat gleamed, she had firm muscle definition and a fluid stride. One for the future, she might win me money later. I had been impressed as she cantered down to the start.

I observed another horse, King of the Road, and checked my paddock notes.

‘Active, keen to get on with it, dull coat.’

He moved well on the course, although the coat indicated that he was not in peak condition.

A rugby ball bobbled across the turf and settled to my left. Bea lunged after it, thinking it was playtime, or intent on eating it. I hauled her away from it.

‘Leave it Bea! Preserve me from females with fur!’

Bea sat, chastened, head bowed.

I grabbed the ball and passed it back to one of the boys who had been playing with it. He caught it with skill, and grinned back at me. Not forgetting Bea, I crouched, cuddled her, planted a smacker on her muzzle and smoothed her.

‘You did good Bea. Good girl.’

She licked my face.

I thought of Akeila living it up at home. Too bad she couldn’t enjoy this too. A pain in the arse she might be at times, whilst overall being an adorable package. I was grateful for her.

At that moment a tall athletic woman with raven hair, sunglasses, and a spangle coat glided by, glanced at me, pouted at me like a model, and in a flash lost herself in the crowd.

A stocky man darted out of punters, saw her, followed, and growled as she disappeared in a dense packed group around the bookmakers’ pitches. He took a mobile phone out of his pocket and spoke to someone. He gestured, animated, frustrated; it went with his red hair.  

I didn’t think any more about red hair at that point. Tingles of electricity ran through me, leaving me excited and shaking, like I had just caught a record salmon. Somehow I knew that woman, she was familiar. Bloody Hell Maisie, two in one day, I thought. I had the thrills, and my head was full of cotton wool.

I couldn’t concentrate on the race, my attention wandered, so I missed parts of it. The runners were bunched and on the final circuit the first I noticed. King Lok cleared the open ditch fence four lengths clear, and at this stage Sea Kale was outpaced, back in fifth place. Her rider scrubbed her along with hands and booted her with heels, urging her to quicken. Then the field disappeared behind the copse...

Something about the gait... in those long boots... the grace.

King Lok reappeared, 10 lengths clear. The green Sea Kale was now responding to the jockey’s sympathetic whip-free handling, and advanced into fourth...

A look... you cannot resist me...  

My pulse quickened, and I shouted for Sea Kale amongst the roar of the thousands around me. The mare sailed over the third last fence, gaining lengths in the air, and was now staying on past fading horses. She took third place. My scalp prickled and my insides bubbled.  She flew the second last, and gained on the second, King Of The Road...

A certain regal bearing... aloof...

King Of The Road’s rider resorted to the whip; the dull slaps had no effect, the horse was flagging. At the last fence his stride shortened until he was near legless, and he crawled over it...

A knowing glance, even with those sunglasses on her, I could feel it, behind the lenses...

Sea Kale passed King Of The Road after the final fence, and stayed on. In front King Lok slowed, and it was all in real time slow motion, like the race would never end, as jumping often was. King lock was now one paced, and the mare advanced...

It was agonising tension, like an Ashes test match in 2005, almost unbearable.

Sea Kale closed... three lengths... two... one and a half...

I screamed my head off amidst the tumult of jumping and shouting all around me, all focused on the end of those two and a half gruelling miles. The crescendo peaked in the last hundred yards, as Sea Kale reached King Lok’s hind quarters...

Her head inched closer until King Lok passed under the flags of the winning line a diminishing neck in front. I groaned, gutted, along with many other spectators. What would this have been like with money on?

Richie was spot on. This was unbeatable.

Bea was crestfallen, chin almost on the deck. Never had I seen such a miserable looking hound. I knew the feeling. Australia may just as well have whitewashed England 5-0. This was dire. I didn’t remember the actual process of going back to the parade ring, just the impression of wading through Fowlers Black Treacle.

‘Oh dear... your own horse just finished second, beaten a head, in the Cheltenham Gold Cup!’

Roz giggled, at length.

‘I’m glad you think it’s funny, Roz.’

‘Poor Bea, someone stole her bone!’

‘You’re all heart.’

‘I know... Sea Kale was as green as a marrow. The ground was too firm for her, she was outpaced on this surface and at this distance.’

‘No arguments here...’

‘Oh, these guys are so funny, Stuart, look!’

I followed her line of sight. At the rails near the winning post two wealthy looking young men with clothes and accents to match, and exotic Asian women on their arms introduced the girlfriends, with respective kissing of cheeks. Far too French for my liking.

One carrot-topped man remarked. ‘Fancy that pleb Jarvis going to watch Liverpool when he could be here.’

His dark-haired friend removed his sunglasses. ‘He always was a frightful oik, football’s just about his level.’

Carrot-top laughed. ‘Better a bad day’s racing than any day’s football.’

Sunglasses replied. ‘And why have 90 minutes of utter drivel when I can have five days of literature.’

Roz interjected. ‘Here – here! I’ll have cricket any day, and leave football to the morons.’

I couldn’t help laughing. Roz was cool.

Roz continued. ‘I totally agree darlings. Stand up for superior quality and good taste. Football ruined my marriage!’

The men in question grinned, waved to Roz and spoke in unison.  

‘Will do, Roz.’

Something about her crows’ feet and the look in her eyes told me that Roz was in part tongue in cheek. She was popular, and I could see why. She could come from other peoples’ viewpoints. Had that been my late mother speaking, it would have been all fire and brimstone over ‘bloody Match of the Day every bloody Saturday night’.

Roz grinned and scanned the ring.

‘Oh look. That chap is a complete arse.’

‘Like McCririck?’

‘Oh, worse honey. He’s noxious, like a room after sprouts and stuffing at Christmas.’

Honey? Well, she was mouthy.

The jockey of Sea Kale dismounted in a blur of silks. I had seen him on TV when he rode a superb race in the Peter Marsh ‘Chase, over three and a half miles, at Haydock the previous weekend. He was a capable amateur, only 17 years old.

Sea Kale’s tweedy owner was red faced. He glared at the jockey, tight-lipped.

‘You should bloody well have come sooner!’

The rider was calm, gathered the saddle, girth and weight cloth from the horse before going to the candy stripe marquee to weigh in. He squared up to the owner, fixed him in the eye. He replied, dry and matter of fact.

‘I cannot come without the horse!’

The jockey strode away, leaving the critic with his mouth frozen open, speechless.

I creased up, as did Roz.

The aroma of cooking bacon drifted on the breeze, drawing me like a wasp to a jam pot. I glanced at Roz. She slurped.

‘Lead on...’

We arrived at the Gourmet Burger trailer, which in chocolate, cream and gold livery looked like a carriage from the Bournemouth Belle in the days of steam trains. I bought three foil-wrapped jumbo bacon rolls. I tucked in and savoured, eyes rolling.

Roz smirked. ‘It’s indecent.’

Bea wasn’t worried about decency, she truffled out the meat and wolfed it. It didn’t touch the sides on its way down.

Piping hot, salty, sweet, washed down with sparkling spring water. It was indeed indecent.

Accents floated all around me, from Dorset yokel, to middle class grockle, to the plum variety that induced my blood to boil. I fancied joining the family which was playing cricket on the clear grass beyond the masses of parked cars, in the middle of the course. The sciatica from the trapped nerve in my spine prevented me. I often felt like some of the pensioners I’d seen today, bent like trees after years in prevailing winds.

Willow and leather ran equal in my affections to jump racing. After amateur playing, coaching and watching during my life, I was steeped in its bottomless content and nuances. It was spiritual.

Roz knew. She grinned at me.

‘Do tell me you’re a cricket fan Stuart, you must be.’

I froze, she was spooky.

‘Dyed in the wool.’

‘Oh good. I feel a monologue coming on. Do you mind?’

‘Go ahead.’

‘Cricket breaks the rules of the world.  It stands firm, and people have to go through the process of sitting still as human beings; rather than the frenetic activity of human doings.  It forces them to ‘be’.  It’s an antidote to the instant gratification that is our universal malaise.’

‘I get the idea, the antithesis of, wham, bam, thank you ma’am, sex over and done with in 60 seconds. We want it all, and I want it all right now.’

‘Yeah…all those fast-acting fixes we use, and then dash off to get the next one, because we cannot cope with life without them, even heaven forbid… racing and gambling.’

‘I like your passion.’

‘I have reason, alcohol killed my sister. And something’s eating you Stuart, isn’t it?’

Inside my head I saw the crumpled car, my wife Sally in the passenger seat, the blood in her blonde hair. My insides twisted like washing being wrung dry.

‘Oh yes… one for later…’

No five furlong sprints for me. For me drama and tension were supposed to unfold over time, a slower process leading to the denouement. Like say... the Grand National, at four and a half miles; the Cheltenham Gold Cup at three and a quarter miles; or 5 days of Ashes test cricket. It could have we wanting to tear my hair out. And that was how I saw life too.

Roz knew about me, and I knew she did. For some people it happened that way, so it was about delaying gratification.

On viewing the runners for the second race, which was for local horses, a poor bunch at that, I wasn’t interested. Roz had it right when she said they were unbelievable.

‘They remind me of Devon and Exeter or Newton Abbot meetings, at the start of the jumping season, in August, back in the mid 1970’s.’

‘Spot on, Stuart. They’re dire.’

‘Do you remember at Newton Abbot, when they pumped from the river to water the course?’

‘Yes, they didn’t realise they were extracting from the tidal estuary reaches, salt water.’

Laughing, I observed. ‘And so they burnt the turf.’

‘Mmmm… fetching... a brown shade... and no racing.’

‘The drought affected their brains.’

Roz laughed. ‘The whisky, more like.’

The field went to post with scratchy actions, they hated the firm ground.

Roz winced.

‘This isn’t going to be pretty.’

We didn’t bother to watch, and wandered among the human sardines, talking. This was a reunion of the world’s youngest old married couple. Set against a backdrop of: four-wheel-drives, tweed, denim, leather boots, firs, flat caps, wellies, tulips of champagne, cold boxes, whisky and smoking barbecues.

The dark woman I had seen earlier drifted by, a ghost, and slipped into the bar tent. Red hair was still trailing her. He kicked sheep’s wool and growled.

‘Ungrateful cow, you don’t know when you’re well off!’

I nudged Roz. ‘Excuse me a moment.’

‘Sure.’

I strode towards red hair. He saw me and Bea, opened his eyes wide at the dog, and legged it.

Roz wound an arm round my free one. ‘What was all that about?’

‘That was some idiot who’s been chasing a woman who I’m sure would rather be left alone, all afternoon.’

‘Who said chivalry was dead.’

‘It’s just on its last legs.’

We gravitated back to the parade ring.

‘One of my pet owners told me what to look out for in the third race.’

‘That sounds like betting talk.’

Roz nodded. ‘If I like what I see I’ll have a tenner on.’

Roz eyed the eight runners for this restricted race, for horses whose wins were in maiden or local races. I checked out three runners that caught my eye for different reasons to animals I had seen earlier. These horses ambled around the ring, heads down low, soporific, looking like at any moment they could sink to the ground and snore their heads off. Laid back was an understatement.  

Laughing, Roz observed. ‘It’s between the dozy ones, the old pros.’

‘You’re something else, Roz.’

‘Mmmm…don’t be fooled by a blonde…’

Other horses behaved like this on that day, and yet once the riders mounted they came to life as if plugged into the mains. Some of these animals also had lop ears that stuck out; horizontal like handlebars. These were endearing traits of genuine horses who did their best every time, often winning or being placed, and it evoked memories.  

In my teens Sally, whose father trained a winner of the Champion Hurdle, introduced me to a horse who was my lifetime favourite. She insisted that I watch a race at Cheltenham on TV, and pointed out Broncho II.

He was a big chestnut with a white blaze and socks, and loppy lugs, who seldom finished out of the first four. I fell in love, with both Sally and the horse. Through the mid to late 1970’s this horse won prestigious races at the Cheltenham Festival, and elsewhere. Then one day at Sandown in 1980 he jumped a fence in the back straight, to perfection, and on the other side landed on a fallen horse. He died that instant.

The story of my life, I thought. People dying on me, some had four legs, some two. I was sinking again.  

I commented. ‘Strike Alotofbull.’

‘You read my mind; he’s dull coated, lethargic, unfit.  Isn’t this fun?’

‘Shouldn’t be allowed…’

Roz blew a kiss at me.

‘It’s better than treading in a cowpat.’

Kisses now, I thought.

Fully Loaded is the best of the dozies.’

I consulted my notes on the racecard and pondered.

‘Mmmm... The favourite... not for me.’

Fully loaded… After Sally’s father died... Sally asleep... The ice on the road... The empty Smirnoff bottle rolling off the passenger seat and into the driver’s side foot-well, lodging under the pedals... And the state of my back today...

I came back.  

‘What about Vigzol?’

I read my notes out loud. ‘Comatose... Fit... Shiny coat... Low head... Loppy lugs...’

‘A sprightly old boy when the rider got on too. My friend recommended him, and I like.’

Roz took a small pair of binoculars from her coat pocket and scanned the bookmakers’ boards.  

‘If I’m quick I’ll get 12-1.’

‘Go for it! That’s value.’

Roz shot off to get her money on. When she came back she pouted, in a sulk.

‘Someone right in front of me knew his stuff. He put a pile on at 12-1, so they cut the odds, and I only got 10-1!’

‘Bummer!’

‘Curses!’

Alotofbull pulled up in no time. Vigzol, Fully Loaded and dull-looking Heavenly Grey, were far ahead of the rest. These three were locked together on the final lap, a thrilling spectacle as they winged each fence. Over the last they were still in a line, and on the run to the line the others left Heavenly Grey behind.

Flying whips... punching hands and heels... straining horses closing on the finishing flags...

The crowd roared. Roz jumped up and down and screamed for Vigzol.

Hard as the lady rider drove, Fully Loaded didn’t get there. Vigzol held on by three quarters of a length. It was another epic finish after three miles and 18 fences, and I lifted a metaphorical hat to Richie. It was also the fastest winning time of that day, a cracker.
 
Roz got caught up in the result, her hazel eyes glowing; she hugged me, kissed me on the cheek, blushed, and then scooted, saying that she was going to collect her tax free £100, see owners, and find the man she wanted me to meet.

I avoided the fourth race and ambled, soaking in the atmosphere. I also drifted, to avoid Sally. I was back watching the 1968 Grand National on TV, in black and white. I knew Highland Wedding would win, and my late father put sixpence on for me. Of course, the horse won at 16-1. My father counted out his own winnings on the same horse, and told me that if I picked any more to let him know.  An ailing child, it was uncanny how I was off sick from school every year, just when the Cheltenham Festival was on in March. The meeting was jumping’s Royal Ascot, without the penguins.  

The irregular drum beat of hooves on turf passed as the field of the fourth race headed out into the country...

I saw the mystery woman again. This time she galloped by the marquee, shot into a vacant portaloo, and pulled the door closed. Red hair wasn’t far behind, slowed at the corner of the marquee, halted and loitered. He took a pack of Marlboro lights from his pocket, lit one and waited...

More fool me. I got involved. I strode over to red hair and confronted him.

‘Hey – you!’

He flinched at Bea sniffing him. I grabbed his coat lapel, and as I did so I noticed movement out of the corner of my eye. I glanced left. The woman had opened the door and watched me with a sweet smile, leaning against the jamb. She blew me a kiss.

I almost swooned, I was light-headed. Tingles ran through me from head to foot. After the wave passed I fixed on red hair, brandishing my mobile phone, and nodding towards the woman, and then the police near the marquee.

‘If you don’t leave that woman alone, I’ll set the dog on you.’

Bea might lick him to death, I thought.

‘And if that doesn’t work, you can explain to the police why you are harassing an innocent woman. Or... I can call for back up.’

He sneered. ‘Innocent my arse!’

He shrugged free and scarpered like a cat I’d caught crapping on my flowerbed.

Mystery woman blew another kiss at me and ran in the opposite direction to red hair.

When I returned to the paddock, grooms unsaddled the runners from the fourth and led them round to cool off. Vapour jetted from the flaring nostrils of the horses, and rose like mist from their sweaty coats.

Someone tapped me on a shoulder, from behind. I thought it was Roz.

‘Did you find...’

The mystery woman held my head and kissed me, full on. She turned and strutted off like a model on a catwalk. Bea growled, barked several times, growled again, pulled, and then charged after the woman, yanking me after her. I tripped and sprawled on the turf, anchoring the dog, a dead weight.

Mystery woman stopped, did a slow turn. She was laughing, with a tone like smoke. She stalked up and held out a hand. Bea had a good sniff, and licked it. The woman then strutted away, towards the car park.

I hauled myself up.

‘What’s with that woman, Bea?’

Bea had her head on one side, gazing at the mystery woman as she crossed the track. This must be one of those instant hate, later love things, I thought. Or perhaps Bea had been jealous?

Roz was still prospecting...

The turnout for the fifth, the mens’ open was a disappointing 3 runners. The French bred favourite, Maxou Des Brosses had fitness and sound past performances in his favour, and moved well to the start.  He looked like a star to me, and he sauntered home, 25 lengths clear.

The sixth race was for novice riders who had won 3 or less races. I eliminated six of the seven runners. Whites Touch looked asleep, although fit, and sparked into life once the jockey mounted. He scooted to victory by 6 lengths.

Roz returned, tapped me on the shoulder and said that Freedom of Choice was the one for her in the seventh. By now Bea was like an appendage I took for granted. I had not noticed her much of the time. She scratched my leg again as a certain horse went by in the ring.

Surprise-surprise! It was the same horse that Akeila had earmarked that morning. Bea was into this, and stood with her front paws on the railing, watching, rapt. I observed, stroking Bea. Roz wound an arm around my free arm.

This was familiar.

Roz jogged me. ‘I have known you a while, you know.’

I knew what she meant.

Someone called her over, and Roz went to chat.  

The final race was for horses of seven plus, late-maturing types; some with attractive pedigrees; and plenty with previous point-to-point experience. Some even had form over hurdles and fences under National Hunt rules. Two runners stood out.

Freedom of Choice finished a good third in a decent novice hurdle over three and a quarter miles in October 2006, and was a half brother to a winning hurdler. He looked the fittest horse I had seen all day, was raring to go, and was favourite. Foolish Myth was half asleep, and was a fine ‘chasing sort, having the hallmark. So Akeila had taste. I knew as soon as I saw the horse that he would win, and was unconcerned that he had not run before.

I looked at the bookies’ boards, then dashed to their pitches, wincing at the pain in my bum and right leg, which had started up now it was getting colder. I put my hundred on, and got 6-1.  

Foolish Myth outjumped Freedom of Choice, gaining ground in the air at most fences, and also outpaced him. I didn’t need to shout Foolish Myth home, as he had it won bar a fall, from a long way out. I had tears in my eyes at the finish.  That’s what seeing a true ‘chasing type win was all about, for me. Only Sally, another horse, or the Ashes could match it. He cantered up by 25 lengths.

Roz caught up with me at the running rails.

‘I’ll be in the bar tent. ’

I collected my gains first, and then followed with Bea.

Chapter 3 - Destiny


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Re: Novel - Two Lives. Chapter 2 - Infection. By Greyowl59 (Charles)
Reply #1 - 10/16/09 at 17:17:18
 
Wow Charles, really long chapter this one but I loved it all the same. I could completely imagine it in my head as I kept reading on.

My favourite line had to be: 'A rugby ball bobbled across the turf and settled to my left. Bea lunged after it, thinking it was playtime, or intent on eating it. I hauled her away from it.' It was just so funny and comical in the way he thought that. And I loved how he kept thinking of the woman as he watched the races, there was something about it which I liked. And his interaction with Roz and the fact that they know each other even though they might have never meet before. And it was so so so sweet of Stuart to go and 'threaten' that man although I wonder why Bea barked at the mystery lady, she is such a sweet dog.

Wonderful chapter again. I shall have to read the next one as well. Roz and Stuart are wonderful to read.  Smiley Smiley
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Re: Novel - Two Lives. Chapter 2 - Infection. By Greyowl59 (Charles)
Reply #2 - 10/16/09 at 18:26:43
 
Hello Angahith,

Great that you are enjoying this...  It means it is working if people related to the characters and are interested in them, and in reading on...

Greyowl59 (Charles)
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Re: Novel - Two Lives. Chapter 2 - Infection. By Greyowl59 (Charles)
Reply #3 - 10/24/09 at 21:18:10
 
Its taken time for me to get to reading this.
The last script you done was brilliant. So wanted to savour the moment as i know how addictive your writings are.
It is losing me around the horse racing as i have not any knowledge of that but the rest is fantastic.  i might get Ben and Tiesha to start watching racing perhaps i am missing out on something. ?

I am intrigued and going on to the next chapter...
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love and peace helen.x&&...
 
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