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Fast Fiction: At The Races

The narrator of Richard Mallinson's short story is smoking cigars and sipping champagne while watching the horses race -but really he's going to the dogs.

There was no moon shining down on me. I heard the rustlings and creakings and all the other noises of the night. Then I fell asleep and when I woke up I was in the orchard with the sun on my face.

I went to the house and unlocked the door. I went to the kitchen.

‘You are working too hard,’’ said my housekeeper.

She poured me a cup of tea and began to prepare my breakfast which, as usual, I would hardly touch.

What did she mean, working too hard? I hadn’t done any work for at least a year. I’d spent most of my time at the races - betting, drinking and womanising.

‘Have a rest,’ she said, ‘stay in bed for a few days, you need to eat properly and learn how to -’

Of course I knew that she meant well, but after a while, I had to tell her to mind her own bloody business.

*

Later, at the races, I was smoking cigars, sipping champagne and casually betting and losing.

It was terrific fun, with all the shouting, gossip and laughter - as well as the kisses and hugs from the women.

‘Nearly everybody likes him,’ I heard a wife or mistress say.

‘More bubbly,’ I shouted and they all cheered.

I was still there after the last race when most of the others had gone. Did I fall or what? I think that somebody gripped my arms and dragged me.

I seemed to hear myself cursing, as if from a long way away.

Then I was back among the trees in the dark. I could hear the rustlings and creakings and all the other -

In the morning there were wet leaves and insects on my face. But a few hours later, all spruced up, I was on my way to the races again. And this time it was the taxi driver I had to tell to mind his own bloody business.

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