Miss Saigon – Horse Race in Lima, 2005 (A Short Story)

“All right,” Rosa said, “here they come.” Papa Augusto, I and Rosa my wife were at the Lima race track, and the horses had finished their walk around the track.

“Who did you bet on,” Rosa asked me.

“Miss Saigon, the same as you…” I said.

“Just remember,” She remarked, “it’s a triple header (trifecta), if you win, meaning you will get three times the amount on the ticket, on the third winning horse.”

Old Papa Augusto had been reading the horse race magazine all week long; this was his trial to prove all his efforts were not in vain.

And that was all, the horses were off. I think my brain had not yet found out it was a race, as I leaned over the railing, confronted with solitude, until the horses raced right in front of me, like lightening, then vanished, going into a second lap. The young jockey seemed to be holding Miss Saigon back, and the other horses-eight in all-were setting the pace, a black horse drew up against Miss Saigon who was third from the front, and in spite of all the jockey could do to keep Miss Saigon in line, the black horse moved in back of her as if trying to annoy her, and the jockey had to hold tight onto the reins, and pull her head back.

All the horses were really going now, Miss Saigon neck to neck with the spotted horse, and the crowd roaring with excitement, I would guess, everyone felt they were getting their monies worth, and even Papa Augusto’s heavy breathing, hoping Miss Saigon would win, for he convinced me to bet on the horse, as evidently he did with Rosa.

The jockey on the black horse gave a terrific whip, to his horse, and near hit Miss Saigon, and now there were three horses, neck to neck. The spotted horse had seemed to be running on lost momentum, because it appeared to have given one last glare and slowed down, and everyone saw it, and heads and shoulders and backs all over the crowd stood up. And like the Andes suddenly appearing out of nowhere, Miss Saigon took the lead, and her jockey cringed, clinging to her bridle as if he was handcuffed.

I could see the jockey hollering at the horse, in hoorays! And then the race was finished, Miss Saigon had won, and Rosa, Papa Augusto and I had won.

Then a man said, “Go down to the winners circle, and take the bridle of Miss Saigon, all three of you get your picture taken, you won big!”

“Yes,” I said. Then I pulled out my ticket from my hip pocket. Next a voice said again, “Get down to the winners circle, as soon as you can, they’re waiting for you.”

After that a man down in the winners circle told another man “Bring that horse here,” and the jockey was still on the horse. “Stand still,” the man told the horse,” then looked at all three of us, “take the bridle,” he told me-and I did, followed by him saying something to the jockey, and the jockey put down his hand to shake mine, and congratulated all of us for winning and betting on Miss Saigon. And Papa Augusto was the most confident and content of us all.