Daily Flash Fiction Challenge 21: Dialgog

This is the 21st in a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing from 2nd December 2012 until the 1st December 2013. It’s intent is to keep me writing throughout the year, and not just in November. you can find out more about the challenge here.

Dialgog, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 22nd December 2012

Word count: 999

Theme: racing, drama, misbehaving, cheating, horse, horse racing

The story:

“You stupid son of a bitch,” Max Butcher said hitting the sick looking jockey with a newspaper.

“It wasn’t my fault,” Gary Cloves said trying to duck, and looking even more sick for the attempt.

“We’ve got a race meeting tomorrow, you know the sodding thing that pays for all this,” Max gestured.

“It must have been bad sea food,” Gary moaned.

“Max, Max, stop hitting him. We’ll have to field another jockey,” said Simon Reeves, Max Butcher’s trainer.

Max turned away from the cowering Gary, “Who you got?”

“Me? I’ve only got kids right now,” Simon said, “We’ll have to reach out to another jockey.”

“Shit, like I have that kind of money,” Max said. “Any of your kids got talent?”

“Of course, but not enough for a big meet like this,” Simon said, “Besides they’re too young to be legal.”

“Legal schmegal,” Max said, “He can race under this useless twat’s credentials. We only need to finish fourth, I’d like to have won, but fourth will pay the bills.”

“Come on Max, we can’t do that. We’d never race again if we were caught, or worse,” the trainer said disgusted.

“Fuck you Simon, you pansy. Bring your best lad, lets introduce him to the beast.”

“His name’s Dialgog, John,” Simon said to the fifteen year old.

“Wow, she’s a beauty,” John said admiring the sleek brown coat, the long muscular legs, and the horse’s discipline.

“That she is, she’ll be a champion one day, but she’s young yet. This is going to be her first race this competitive race this weekend,” he said sombrely.

“Who’s racing her? Mister Cloves?” John asked. He’d been taken with horse racing for quite a few years now, being a jockey was one of the things a smallish lad from York was going to be good for, it was either that or gymnastics, and riding horses galloping fast over the terrain, it was pure joy.

“Well Gary’s sick, so she may not get to ride,” Max said coming round the corner, “It’s why I’ve asked for you.”

“Me?”  John asked incredulously.

“T’ain’t strictly legal mind,” Simon warned.

“She just needs a competitive race,” Max said, “So let me worry about it Simon, worry about making sure John here is up to the job.”

“I am!” John said, enamoured with the idea.

So it was the next day Simon showed him his race wear, had him put on the helmet.

“No don’t you go speaking to no one more than you have to,” Simon warned him.

“I won’t,” John promised.

“I mean it, we’ll all get in a lot of trouble for this. Max shouldn’t be asking you to do this,” Simon warned, “But doesn’t matter, just remember one thing, do not win. Do not get close to win, just give Dialgog her head, and then reign her in carefully.”

“I won’t, I really won’t,” John said, “I just want to ride Dialgog.”

They headed out to the paddocks, got John signed in as Gary and weighed, and went straight to horses thereafter, no socialising.

Simon helped John mount Dialgog who had already been introduced to John, but only had a limited amount of time the previous day to get used to her new rider.

“She’s a little skittish,” warned Simon, “Get her going and she’ll be fine. She’s a good horse.”

“Thank you Mister Reeves,” John said reverently.

The horn flared, the gates opened, and the jockeys set their horses going getting up to speed. At the back John was slow off the mark, it was all so unfamiliar to him, but he was only half a horse behind the pack, so he settled into a good pace.

They came around the first marker, and he was still at the back, but it was neck and neck.

The second marker flared past and he was half a horse head of the new last placing horse. John wasn’t forcing it, he just gently urged Dialgog, re-enforced her own need to run.

Flying past the third marker he’d gained two more places in the eight horse race.

The finish line came into sight, and with barest the push Dialgog flew through the remaining horses, sitting just behind the front two who were neck and neck.

John could feel Dialgog had more though, and lost in the moment he let her have her head, they swung out to the side and pushed on, trying for the win.

A moment later they crossed the finish line. John didn’t know where they’d come, but as the adrenalin left his system he realised they’d done something very daft. He couldn’t help it though, he’d never ridden a horse like Dialgog, she was a natural runner, and she wanted to be out at the front.

As they trotted around a few moments, he looked up at the results on the video board.

“Congratulations,” Simon said coming up to the side of the hot, panting horse, he offered his hand up to help John get down. John looked at the hand, and at Simon for an instant, looking for the signs of anger but there were none. One of Simon’s assistants came over and lead Dialgog off to be weighed and checked, while Simon lead John through a tunnel. Suddenly a coat was thrust at him, and his helmet removed.

Gary hobbled out of the tunnel, with Simon, now wearing the helmet and dressed the way John had been. He was going to collect the plaudits for the third place John had won. John didn’t care though, he realised now just how much he wanted to be a racing jockey. Dialgog would fill his dreams tonight, and for many years to come.

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