Friday, 30 November 2012

#FridayFlash - A Little Flutter


Ever since I was a kid, I was always that idiot shouting "I bet you anything that..." Couldn't start a sentence without it. The missus used to watch all the soaps, and I was forever shouting bets about what characters would do next. Used to drive her mad. She'd stick a tenner in my hand and send me down William Hill, just to get some peace.

So anyway. It's a Tuesday afternoon, and I've been sent home from work. Quiet day, like, nothing else to do. Boss figured he'd save himself some money. I reckon I'll give Susan some peace, so I go off down the bookies. I'm £30 down after an hour but it's early yet so I'm not leaving. Reckon I'll win it back, you know? Anyway. I've just put a tenner on Buford's Chase and he's running well. Like an idiot, I start shouting, "I bet he wins!"

Damn thing loses so I start shouting that I bet the race was fixed, always "I bet this" and "I bet that". One of the girls behind the counter brings me a cuppa and asks me to pipe down, so I do. For a while. Eventually I start mumbling to myself, I bet I could win back my £40. I reckon it'll be easy, if only I pick the right horse. For a second I think about the one armed bandits but I know they're fixed.

So anyway. I'm looking through the listings for the next race. I don't have a system, not really, and by this point I'm just picking names I like. This guy comes up to me, so quiet I don't hear him until he clears his throat. He's dressed a bit funny, in a three piece suit and carrying a cane, but you get all sorts down the bookies, so I think nothing of it. He leans over and says we should make things interesting. I tell him I'm just trying to win back my £40, and hope he'll go away. He gives this big smile, all white teeth like those insurance people on the telly. Says that if I bet on Faust's Hubris and it wins, he'll give me £10,000. If it loses, this geezer gets my soul. I reckon he's a nutjob but I look up the horse, and the odds are good so I fling in a bet. Only a tenner, mind. Susan'll kill me if I lose any more than £50. That'd be worse than losing my soul - my missus has a right mouth on her when she gets riled up.

Anyway, the horse runs well, and I reckon I might be close to winning. I don't think the crazy will pay out £10,000 but the odds are 4 to 1, so I'll at least win £50. I can go home and Susan'll never know. Faust's Hubris is out in front, but the stupid thing falls in the last furlong. I'm halfway through shouting "I bet the race is fixed" when the guy puts a hand on my arm. His fingers feel red hot but I can't pull away. He's got me firm. Next thing I know, the bookies has gone and we're standing in a huge cave. A lake of lava takes up the middle, and I almost faint when I see people swimming in it. They leave trails of fire in their wake and they're screaming in agony but they just keep going. I try to run away but no matter how far or fast I run, I never get anyway. Just keep running on the spot like those joggers at the traffic lights.

I don't know how long I've been here but I watch the swimmers all day long. Every hour, and I know it's an hour because I counted the seconds once, this horned thing comes by and forces me to bet on one. No matter which one I bet on, it loses. Nothing happens to me, I don't lose any money 'cause there's none to bet with, but the frustration is killing me. I've tried everything - systems, patterns, all sorts, but I always lose.

I've never seen the man in the suit again, but I think about him from time to time. I sometimes think back to that day in the bookies, and the more I think about it, the more I could swear I saw him flick his wrist just before Faust's Hubris fell down.

13 comments:

Sulci Collective said...

as the son of a compulsive gambler I love this and recognise many f the little details of the addiction. Old men muttering under their breath in the Bookies. Talk of systems. One more bet just to get back what you lost... Loved the Faust's Hubris name too!

My only suggestion, is maybe rather than the simile of running on the spot like a jogger, I wonder if he might not express it in terms of a horse rather than a human? Maybe when they line up behind the starting tape & the jockey has to keep them reined back?

Marc Nash

Peter Newman said...

It's always the last bet that gets you into trouble.

Harry said...

I actually liked the jogggers running in place bit. I like the whole bit as a matter of fact. As far as hell goes, I bet it's still better to be the bettor than the swimmer.

Icy Sedgwick said...

Marc - Yeah, that could have worked. I just thought of joggers because I see them every morning!

Peter - Yep! And often in more ways than one.

Harry - Very good way of looking at it!

Tony Noland said...

I laughed at the name of the horse. Great eternal punishment for him.

John Wiswell said...

One of your strongest voices in recent memory, Icy. Even as tired as my mind is today this one came alive in my head.

afullnessinbrevity said...

I love the name of the horse; stroke of genius.
Adam B @revhappiness

Emilia Quill said...

If he'd only recognzed the horses name... As always I love the character's voice. Odd man, his ultimate torment is losing bets for eternity :P

Tim VanSant Writes said...

Nice one. Just goes to prove, you may come in Faust and still not win. [sorry]

Steve Green said...

Ill bet he has a hell of a time down there.

Larry Kollar said...

That one WAS fixed! What a lousy way to spend eternity, even if it's a fitting punishment.

Katherine Hajer said...

In a way, his hell was a lot like his life. He must have had a losing streak something awful.

Loved the voice in this one, and the conclusion. Like Larry said, though, it was fixed!

Helen said...

It''s just that one more bet that does it every time!

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