Tag Archives: Kentucky Derby

Kentucky Derby

28 Jul

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Kentucky Derby

She handed me a crisp pound note, fresh from her pension. ‘Get five shillings and the rest in smash.’

At nine, I am already taller than my wee Granny, so I go up to the booth and translate the request into new money.

Diane likes the tupenny falls. The exact timing of dropping the coppers in, watching them fall, pushing other coins forward. Some drop onto the next level to be raked, moving others tantalisingly close to the win.

Granny stands at the one-arm bandit. She anticipates three cherries while building up the muscles in her right arm. We’ll get an ice-cream push-up if she wins big.

Both games are too sedentary for me. I am drawn to the Kentucky Derby. I play it every day, building up my winning tokens to be exchanged for a prize on the last day of the holidays. There’s a teddy bear for a hundred tokens, though Granny says it would be cheaper to buy. I really like it though, even if I just have fifteen tokens with six days to go.

I put my money in the slot, wait for my ball to roll to the front of my game area. I like to sit on the third seat, three being my lucky number, the date of my birth. The ball is yellow, which I like too, as are the coloured border of the target holes. I don’t mind if someone else is already in my seat, it doesn’t put me off, but gives an added challenge.

When the man running the stall figures that no one else is coming, he puts us under starters orders. The horses are all ready, waiting for our commands. And they’re off.

You need to be quick. Rolling your ball up the slope. Aiming for the three-point hole, but satisfied with a two. My horse moves forward ­ one, two.

Commentary blares over the speakers, filling the whole arcade. ‘And Number Six is leading by a head.’

There’s a fat man who plays all day, or at least all the times I’m here. He’s my main rival. But what he has in speed, I make up in accuracy. I’m ahead. The race is on. I can see his sideways glance, but I am under strict instructions not to talk to him.

Diane comes up behind me, wants to show me her handful of winnings, but I blank her out for a few more seconds to secure my win.

I’m handed my token, and pop it in the sparkly purse, which I wear diagonally across my body. I take out another coin to start again.

When we run out of money it means it’s time to go back to the flat that Mum’s friend lets us have. When it’s raining, we run ahead of Granny, while she braves the elements in her summer coat and rain mate. But if it’s dry, which it sometimes is, we shorten our steps to walk beside her, as she limps along with her rickety legs and bad hip.

I tell her about my races, and ask if we’ll get ice cream from Nardini’s later. And she tells me again, not to talk to the fat man, who sits all day at the Kentucky Derby, trying to get enough tokens for a giant teddy bear.

 

This piece was inspired by the CHANGE prompt at Creative Writing Ink