He had a hot tip. “I wish I could tell you, my love,” said Chad, simultaneously fixing his face in a sad expression, his head drooping a little to enhance the scene.
“You know,” said Janice, “you’re so full of it. I told you you’d never make it in Hollywood.”
“What? I’m sad I can’t tell you what I found out about the first race. I mean it.”
“Oh ho, Mister. Right right right. You with all of your hot tip sheets. How much did they ever help you? You hardly win jack, my friend. You can keep your hot tip to yourself.”
“Okay,” said Chad, “but it’s a real juicy one. Got it right from the horse’s mouth.”
Janice pushed Chad away from her. “I tell you what,” she said. “I’ve got a hot tip for you. I’m going to place a bet on any horse whose jockey is wearing a blue cap.”
She scanned the riders. “There,” she said, pointing, “that’s the horse I’m going to bet on, win, place, and show. ”
“That’s a foolish way to pick a winner,” he said. “What I got, my love, is a sure thing.”
With that statement, Janice started laughing crazily. “Sure thing? The only thing that’s a sure thing is death.”
“That’s two things, actually,” he said. “Because it’s death and taxes. Which reminds me. I gotta get my receipts rounded up and over to my tax guy.”
Janice stopped laughing.
“Really?” she said. “You do taxes? Oh my God. Who would have thought that? You? No way.” She laughed again.
“Ha ha,” said Chad. “I was going to ask you the same thing.”
This comeback made no sense to Janice. “I pay taxes, dude. I’m responsible. And conscientious. You’re a flake. I bet you didn’t file last year.”
Chad looked at her, wondering if this situation needed more information dumped in the middle of it. Well, never be dishonest with someone you love, right? “I didn’t, you’re right. Or the year before. I didn’t have to, actually. My loss tickets added up big time, and my tax guy got me a great refund.”
Janice groaned. “Of course you did. It’s guys like you who make it hard for any kind of honest taxpa —
“Please, enough, please,” said Chad. “You better get over to the window and place your bet before they close it.”
Janice, without a word, spun around and ran off to the betting window area. Chad turned and headed out to the sundrenched bleachers.
Just as he decided on a seat – a lucky one, he hoped – Janice joined him.
“The jockey with the blue hat?” he asked, already knowing the answer.
“Yes, that’s what I told you I would do, didn’t I?” Janice said, holding up the ticket. “I feel a big win coming, do you? Oh, no, I feel it’s a win for only one of us.”
Chad gave her a small smile. “Just sit down, you cheeky monkey, you.”
Janice laughed good-naturedly. “Hey buddy,” she said, “you got red on you.”
They both laughed, thinking about their favorite zombie movie.
The clarion call focused them on the starting gate, and momentarily the horses were off.
Janice grabbed Chad’s arm.
“Look at that blue cap fly,” she shouted gleefully.
Grabbing her hand, Chad felt for the energy of their love rushing through the connection. Janice placed her other hand over his. “Go go go!” she shouted.
Chad watched as the horse ‘Winter’s Eve,’ with the blue-capped jockey, crossed the finish line first. Janice jumped up and screamed. Turning to look at Chad, she said, “Any more hot tips, my friend?” And with that, she rushed off to cash in her ticket.
Chad sat there waiting for her, and he waited for her, and he waited for her some more. After an hour, he stood up and headed into the lobby.
Stopping at the nearest trash can, he tore up his tickets and his tip sheets, and dropped them into it, watched them flutter down into the dark like tiny birds.
Out in the parking lot, Chad dropped into his car seat but did not start the engine. He thought about how much he cared for Janice, and how much she cared for him. Leaning forward and trying to put the key in the ignition, he knew it would slip from his hands and fall to the floor.