Rod slightly strains his neck as he stares up at the screen in the corner of the bookmakers’ shop. He doesn’t want to believe what he sees but the commentator confirms the worst.
‘It’s Ovenbird, Ovenbird! The rank outsider. The rank outsider wins the 3:30 at Chepstow beating the odds-on favourite, Frittata in the final furlong.’
Rod looks down at the betting slip in his left hand and crunches the small piece of useless paper as he makes a tight fist and then tightens it more. His fist a walnut. The red blood in the artery of his pale wrist turns blue as it pulses strongly. Protruding. Pushing against the inside of his worn white cuff. ‘Shit’ he mutters under his breath as he slams his fist against the dark grey Formica counter and slowly slouches down from the cold dark stool, stumbling slightly as his legs take his weight. The fire in his eyes which roared so brightly a few short minutes ago, full of excitement, full of hope, full of life at the start of the race had dwindled to a flickering flame by its end and now the glowing embers had turned to soot. He turned the collar of his grey trench coat up and trundled towards the exit door. The grey condensation on the inside of the glass forewarning him of the unwelcoming winter weather which awaited him beyond.
‘Steward’s enquiry!’ stopped him dead. His ears perked up. His body slowly straightened from its slouch. The fire in his eyes rekindled as he screwed a manic gaze over his left shoulder towards the telly. ‘Steward’s enquiry, my old friend’.