The 4.55

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A short Horse racing and gambling story of how fate can smile on you one moment only to crush you seconds later. ‘I can control my destiny, but not my fate. Destiny means there are opportunities to turn right or left, but fate is a one-way street. I believe we all have the choice as to whether we fulfil our destiny, but our fate is sealed.’ - Paulo Coelho

Submitted: February 23, 2020

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Submitted: February 23, 2020

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The jockey and horse lay motionless. The sun had began to lower on the horizon, bringing with it a dimming of light which shadowed the fall. The air was notably cooling. The crowd stood silently. The ambulance crew put a screens round the scene to hide the incident from the racegoers. People began making assumptions; Do you think horse and jockey are ok? It didn’t look good! The way the horse fell on him! Still no news or movement. The tannoy announces the following race will be delayed by thirty minutes. Punters head to the bars and eating areas. All the talk is about the fall. Still no news. Nearly ten minutes have past. The futurities winner had been displayed in the winners enclosure to a muted crowd. An ambulance helicopter hovered over the course.

Amateur jockey Sean O,Grady had just turned seventeen years of age and had been making a name for himself. He was top of the leaders board for the Amateur Jockeys championship. He had won thirty six races in this current season, his first. Amazingly Sean hadn’t even sat on a horse until just over a year ago. The horse, Dark Night had won his last two steeple chases and was just about to complete the treble. The pair had kicked for home and skipped ten lengths ahead of their nearest rival and were traveling with great ease. Dark Night had put in an almighty leap at the fence, the tenth and last one in the race. He had over stretched, sent the birch flying and had catapulted to the other side leaving Sean sandwiched between ground and himself, some three quarters of a tone in weight.

Eddie Fenwick was at the races to watch his horse win. The story has it that he had bet everything he had in the world on Dark Night to win at odds of four to seven on. As horse and jockey approached the last fence; in his heart he knew he had won. Redeemed himself. His chest was full of light hysterical strain of hope but underneath it was a deep deep sickening pit of darkness. The knowledge of destruction. For a split second salvation looked to have arrived. Then, we’ll you know what happened. 

Eddie had started betting in his early twenties, just for a bit of fun; to escape the monotony of every day living. His interest grew when a friend of his gave him a tip for a horse. That day, he had his first proper bet as he liked to put it; fifty pounds to win at odds of eight to one. The horse romped home and Eddie pocketed four hundred pounds, which at the time was twice his weekly take home pay. He had been fairly successful betting with his two or three pound bets. This was another level. That day, funded by his winnings he started betting in larger amounts. Sticking to the old adage ‘You have to speculate to accumulate’. Some twenty years had now passed and horse race betting has been part of his daily life for most of that time. Having had several bad weeks of betting he had succumbed to the hardest won lesson of all, you must not chase your losses. He got the hots, tried to smash his way out of trouble and lost every penny he was able to get his hands on. He had also maxed out all his credit cards. In his mind this was going to be his last bet, the mother of all his bets. He had borrowd one hundred thousand pounds using the family house as collateral. He was now accumulated over one hundred and sixty thousand pound of debt. Eddie is married with two young children. His wife had no idea he was gambling to such an extent. Eddie never discussed his gambling but they had had some nice holidays when he was winning.

Sean O’Grady, a tall skinny young lad with long dangly legs and arms, mousy brown hair and boyish looks wasn’t born to be a jockey. Far from it. His dad had worked at the Nissan Motor Manufacturing factory in Sunderland all of Sean’s life, as had his Grandfather. His brother had just started work there to. He was destined to join them and further more, had boasted he was looking forward to the prospect. That was until one early morning his brother was unable to do his paper round and Sean filled in. Part of the round was to deliver papers to the local stables of race horse trainer James Nicholls. Park house Farm was the furthest of his deliveries on the outskirts of Newburn. About twenty minutes on his bike. That morning he was in ore of the racehorses as they cantered out at exercise. Fate played its part and he ended up talking to James, who offered him some weekend work mucking out if he was interested. The stable was struggling with staff shortages and it didn’t take long before Sean was persuaded to try his hand and riding exercise. He was allowed to do some light work with one of the retired horses in his care. He was a natural. James was so impressed with him he was encouraged to keep practicing. Throughout the summer, Sean spent all of his time at the stables. His progress was amazing. So much so, James offered him an apprenticeship at the stables. Within this short space of time he was riding out with the professional jockeys. It has to be said, His dad wasn’t keen as he didn’t see iworking at the stables as a proper job, not to mention the dangers. His mother could see the happiness it gave to her son and continued to encourage him. Whilst his dad wasn’t a fan of horse racing, he had been to Catterick and Newcastle racecourse to watch his son race. The whole family had! Deep down he was very proud of him. He just couldn’t bring himself to say it. 

Eddie  is now in a state of deep depression. He is beside himself. He feels destroyed. He had sent himself into a world of which there is no way out. His hands and back are pouring with sweat, his head is spinning with anxiety and he can’t think straight. He feels sick and his stomach is churning. He is tearful and ashamed. How was he going to feed his family? Why had he been such a fool? He feels he is unable to go home and tell his wife what he had done.

Eddie’s head is all over the place and he can barely see the screen of his phone as he sends a text message to his wife: I love you all. I’m sorry x

Sean’s parents had been contacted by Martin Edmonds the senior paramedic at the scene and instructed to meet him at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle as quickly as they could . He didn’t want to discuss Sean’s condition over the phone but informed them, Sean had been in a horrible fall. He was alive but very poorly. Sean’s mother was beside herself with worry. His dad tried to reassure her, but deep down he feared the worst.

James Nicholls was visibly distraugh with the carnage he had witnessed. Whilst race horse trainers want to win races, of course they do. But most of all, they just want horse and jockey to return safe and sound after doing battle. This time, Dark Night wasn’t coming home. As for Sean, there had been no news. He was on his way to the hospital. 

The last race had to be abandoned due to there not being enough light to race. Race goers are encouraged to leave the racecourse. The crowds descend from the racecourse.

Breaking news; Racegoers had a horrid time today after witnessing the tragic death of Jockey Sean O’Grady when his horse fell on top of him. And news Just in; Trains from Catterick Bridge races were delayed this evening due to a person on the track. Police have yet to identify the body.


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