A Day At The Races

Yay, it is time for Paula’s Tuesday Story! Images today are:

This was fun, he thought. He had never watched live horseracing before, so when his latest belle suggested they go to The Curragh for the day to watch her father’s horse run, why not? The promise of a champagne picnic had simply sweetened the deal.

“Molly’s Folly?”, he repeated. “What race is it in?”

“Oh, dad said she was not running until 4:15. We’ve got hours yet. I tell you what, why don’t we have some fun and place some bets in the meantime?”

So they spent the next twenty minutes studying form. Had Padraig been there on his own, it would have been quicker – he could just about tell the front of a horse from its rear, but Aisling had been around horses her whole life. Having made their choice, a good each way bet, whatever that was, Aisling sent him off to place the bet.

“£20 on Grandpa’s Winter Woolies, please” as he reached the bookie. “Is that to win?” came the response. Padraig was baffled – of course it’s to bloody win! Would he really be placing a bet on a horse to lose? Thinking on his feet, the bet was made and he returned to Aisling.

At racetime, they turned their attention to the track. “Which one is ours?” he asked. “The guy with the gold sash”, came the response. The jockey was wearing a colourful maroon shirt, with a striking gold diagonal on it. Padraig watched him disappear into the stall, and a minute later they were off.

“They’ll be a few minutes, yet”, warned Aisling, as they jumped the first hurdle. The race is over two miles, so get comfortable.

With a mile to go, they were both glued to events on the track. Padraig couldn’t believe it – Winter Woollies was right up there, in a clutch of four horses. His first race, and already he had picked a winner. Coming up to the last hurdle. they were too close to call.

They saw a horse come crashing down, but which horse?

Padraig showed visible disappointment as he realised that his rider was no longer to be seen in amongst the three running horses.

And learned a valuable lesson – it ain’t over ’til it’s over.

Homage to Wile E.

For Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #102, where we write about this photo from Marius Venter at Pixels.com. Okay, there is some license here, because that guy appears to be sitting entirely deliberately, but what if…

“Holy shit”, he thought, “how am I still alive?” He had come to rest just six inches from the edge. Below him was a sheer, 500ft drop. How lucky was that?

The last thing he remembered, he had gone for an afternoon climbing with his friend. They were both experienced mountaineers, and resolve to scale the face that they had scaled many times before.

They knew the rock face so well that they had been climbing without ropes. It was a beautiful afternoon and the two were climbing close to home in just shorts – they should be up and down again in a few hours, so there was no reason to assume that they would experience anything but lovely weather.

They were about ¾ up, with Sylvain leading. As Phillipe clambered after him, the rock had given way. There was nothing he could do, it had simply given way. Fortunately, this drop was not sheer, but by the time he reached the botton, his momentum sent him sprawling towards the edge. Below that, the drop *was* sheer.

“Are you okay?” He heard Sylvain’s voice from some way above. His shoulder hurt like crazy – he must have pranged it on the way down, But he was alive. He started to assess the damage.

Then he felt a slight movement in the ledge beneath him, and watched as a fissure under his butt widened.

Beep! Beep!

The Rivals

inspired by Paula’s Thursday Inspo #92, where she prompts with this image:.

As far as the public knew, Frank Jones and Tony Alsop were colleagues, on the same team. When one spoke, the other backed them up, because those were the rules.

Ever since their days at university, their careers had seemed conjoined. The student Jones had once dated had even gone on to marry Alsop. Jones had never liked him, even back then.

They had risen through the ranks together, elected as junior MPs in the same intake. While Jones’s policy was one of keeping his nose clean, however, Alsop was altogether more fiery. His instincts drew much admiration, but he was also prone to the occasional gaffe.

They had progressed through the ranks steadily. Jones was regarded as a safe pair of hands, and few eyebrows were raised when he was invited to become a part of the government, albeit with a junior role. He could not help but feel satisfied that he had leap-frogged Alsop – he had always known that his dependability would win out in the end.

Alsop had followed him, however, three years later. He had raised his profile sufficiently to come into the government, immediately overseeing a department of his own. More of a risk, perhaps, but his talent was unquestionable.

Shortly after Jones himself had been invited to eat at the top table, that risk became evident. It was a nothing issue, so why had Alsop chosen to make a stand? Inevitably, perhaps, it cost Alsop his job. But the Prime Minister was damaged too, and, wounded, led the party to only its second electoral defeat in the last thirty years.

The Prime Minister did not hang around, resigning a day later, and several former cabinet colleagues urged Jones, with age on his side, to put himself forward as her successor. It was inevitable that Alsop also threw his hat in.

For the “party faithful”, Jones was seen as too tainted by his government ties, and Alsop won the election quite handsomely. The two pledged to work together to get themselves back into power.

And it was going well. There was little love lost between the two, but for the public, they wee united in their goal. The current government were in trouble, and Alsop and Jones had the unmistakeable air that they were simply waiting to take over.

And then, six months before the election was due, Jones’s landline rang – it was not yet 5 AM. As he sleepily wandered through to his machine, he just caught his secretary’s voice asking him to call back urgently. “It’ll wait”, thought Jones, trudging down to the kitchen. He turned on his mobile. That couldn’t be, surely? Thirty missed calls? He rubbed his eyes and checked the display once again. He dialled his secretary, who immediately picked up. “Turn on the News Channel”, came a curt voice.

Jones stood gaping at the TV and could not believe his ears. Alsop? Died last night? Heart attack?

A week later, Jones had made sure that his bouquet was the largest at the funeral. When he saw that the cameras were on him, he even managed a sniff.

He stood, expressionless. Not even his own mother could have guessed what he was thinking.

“I’ve finally beaten the bastard”.

Married Life

Yay, it is time for Paula’s Tuesday Story! Images today are:

He hated this. This was the worst part of his job, thought Mark. Processing all the numbers. When he had quit working at the gym, to start a career freelancing, nobody had told him how difficult this would be.

Now, here he was, lying in bed, dreading the task ahead. “Ah, well, the sooner I’m started, the sooner it is over”. He made sure to get up quietly, so as not to disturb his partner, Carol, who lay gently snoring beside him.

Benjy, however, was another matter. As soon as he heard his master’s movement, he jumped up from his rug and sprinted out to the kitchen. For Benjy, breakfast could not come soon enough.

Mark went through to the kitchen, fed the dog, let him out into the garden, and fired up his computer. He stared at the hundreds of receipts lying waiting in a pile and groaned. Some of these were two year’s old, for God’s sake. Why hadn’t he taken his own advice, to enter them onto the computer as he went along? But the self-employed deadline was next week, and he had to get these numbers over to the accountant for first thing tomorrow, so he started plodding.

Almost two hours later, he heard movement in the bedroom, and Carol appeared. She padded over to their open-plan kitchen, decided that the coffee was no good, and put on a fresh pot. “Do you want a coffee?”, she chimed, cheerfully. “…nuh”, came the response. It had hardly registered with him.

She wandered over. “Good morning, gorgeous”, she chirped. “I said, would you like some coffee?” Mark snapped out of his trance. “Oh…. Er, no, thanks”, he muttered, adding, “look, I’ve got to get my accounts done this morning, so I’d appreciate some quiet.” He’d told her last night that this would happen, although Carol’s salaried job meant that she had little idea what he was doing – her employers took care of all her taxes. “Not to worry, darling, I’ll be as quiet as a mouse”, she uttered, as she ceremonially tiptoed back into the kitchen. After hearing sounds of breakfast, Mark heard Carol return to the bedroom. He looked up when ten minutes later, she reappeared in a leotard. “I’m just gonna do my exercises, but don’t worry, I’ll be really quiet.”

That was the trouble. Their apartment was essentially a lounge plus a bedroom, and since Lockdown, the lounge had become Carol’s gym. He heard the rebounder being locked into place, and then she started jumping. With her earbuds in, she was dead to the world, but with the noise, Mark found it hard to concentrate. But, wanting to keep the peace, he decided it was time for a coffee break, and went through to make a fuss of Benjy.

All coffee’d out, Mark reappeared when he heard the bouncing stop. He saw Carol, sweating now. “All done”, she panted, “how’re you getting on?” “Okay”, replied Mark, biting his lip. “Right”, Carol told him, “I’m gonna quickly jump in the shower, then I’m gonna crack on. Is there anything I can do for you?” “No, just keep the noise down”, reminded Mark.

After the shower, Carol padded through to the bedroom again, and reappeared, five minutes later, dressed.

“Right, I had it on my mind to fix Benjy’s kennel today. The way it bangs every time we have a breeze is really annoying me.” Mark grunted but did not tell Carol exactly what was annoying *him* right now. He pressed on.

He heard her remove their little toolbox from their utility cupboard, then figured he might get some peace, if she was going outside. He pressed on.

Five minutes later, he heard the kennel being dragged into the apartment. “It’s too bloody cold out there”, she explained. He pressed on.

When Mark heard the hammer crashing down on the kennel, Mark finally snapped. “WILL YOU SHUT THE FUCK UP????”, he shouted at Carol.

Not used to being spoken to so rudely, Carol was aghast and angry. She picked up a screwdriver from the toolbox, and flung it in Mark’s general direction. Mark ducked. Carol then stormed past him, and out of the front door. He heard her car start and the car drive away.

Maybe now he’d get some peace?

I’m sorry, very long today, by my usual standards. But I wanted all the readers to be weary of her too, just like Mark was.

Lucky Ticket

For Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #101, where we write about this photo from Pixabay..

Josh had never considered whether he was a lucky person or not. At his young age, he still had many of life’s events ahead of him. But at this moment, he was on top of the world.

Like many boys his age, he collected football stickers. For this year’s roster, he already had what was considered one of the rarest stickers, and when he treated himself this morning, there it was again. He was already sitting on an offer to swap it for a hundred other cards, he’d just said he’d think about it and let them know.

He’d confided in his best friend, Amy. She cared little for these cards, but she understood “rare”. “It’s no use to you, you already have it”, and then jokily added “why not put it up on eBay?”

This throwaway remark set Josh’s mind racing. “Why not?”, he’d thought, and went home and took some photos of the card that night. Next day, he enlisted Amy’s help once again. “I want you to help me come up- with an ad”, he’d explained. Buying her lunch to twist her arm, they’d gone to use one of the school’s computers, after they’d finished eating. A half-hour later, Jake hit “post”, and the listing went live.

There was precious little time to watch the progress of the auction, and Josh did not have a computer at home, but a week later, Amy reminded him. “Doesn’t that auction end today?” and at lunchtime they once again found themselves in the computer lab. Josh logged on.

In the cafeteria, the rest of the school just heard a muffled “YESSSSSSS”.