by Trey Nosrac
Morning sunlight slid across his front porch. Our 10-foot personal space between white rattan rocking chairs served as an awkward reminder of these troubled times.
I cleared my throat and spoke the line I had rehearsed, “David, you gotta take me off your payroll. These days, a personal driver is the poster child for non-essential personnel.”
He gave a dismissive wave, “Your salary does not even make the top 100 things on my mind.” He flipped his thumb over his shoulder and said, “My mom is number one, over 80, and heart surgery last year.”
“Paying me is silly, I’ll be glad to ride around and annoy you for nothing.”
He smiled and said, “Money gets less and less important every day.”
“Yeah, you might have made the one per cent club for nothing.”
“You scared?” he asked.
I let out a sigh. “Sure, the friggin Corona thing sticks in Trey’s head as I’mwandering around my crib in a ratty bathrobe like a third rate Lebowski while a fruit basket full of garbage pops into my brain — like did I wash my hands when I twisted off the cap off the last Labatt’s, or how come I didn’t smell that rotten banana sitting on the sink where I self-cut my hair so it looks like Michael Keaton in Beetlejuice?”
He scrunched up his face and said, “That sentence was a fruit basket full of poor grammar, third person, mixed metaphors, exaggeration, pathos, profanity, and references to fictional characters.”
I shrugged, “Not having baseball is killing me.”
“I’m just glad it’s crawling back, it’s in my DNA. To me, racing has a leg up on other sports.”
He replied, “A little normalcy in the sporting world would go a long way for morale. I’m afraid everyone will be hyper nervous. A single outbreak will be one too many, and things could snowball. The public almost has to factor in that more bad stuff will happen. It’s a complicated balancing act.”
“I’ll tell you something weird, I got skin in the racing game, a training bill for horse ready to qualify, a yearling going to the sale and one just born. But so far, I’m surprisingly calm. A lifetime of rough racing waters has been good practice for viral Armageddon. Every day I’m just glad not to wake up dead.”
“You’re a member of a hearty bunch,” he said.
“Horse racing people are ridiculously optimistic and pessimistic at the same time. We are dreamers where most of the dreams don’t come true.”
David took a sip of his coffee and said, “My problem is that I hate not being able to DO anything. So, in addition to giving yourself bad haircuts, how are you killing time?”
“Mailing strange little checks, and since you don’t even have the good sense to downsize me, I may send out a few more.”
“Did you get a stimulus check?” he asked.
“Yeah, that money had to go.”
“Go where?” he asked.
“Loose grease always goes to good places, that is one of Trey’s rules.”
“What does that mean?”
“Anytime an unexpected, unearned windfall of cash lands in my lap, it’s going right back out the door. I believe that bad karma will visit if I don’t spend any money that falls from the sky. The stimulus check fell into this category. I still don’t know why I got the dang money.”
He nodded and said, “Stimulation isn’t one of your problems.”
“Exactly. Hell, my problem has always been over-stimulation. Unplanned money falling into my lap is rare. It’s also tricky. I treat the cash as carefully as a newborn baby.”
He cocked his head and said, “I’m still a little confused.”
“Say that I hit a tri for more than a hundred; the best part of winning that cash is always the next few days. I take my girl to a real nice, family-run restaurant, order off the top of the menu, and leave a big tip. If I have any cash left over, I go to my corner breakfast joint the next morning and pick up the tab for the whole place and sneak out the door. My favorite part of a big score is splashing the money around.”
“Who are the beneficiaries of your stimulus?” he asked.
“People that might depend on me, especially during virus times.”
“A potted plant shouldn’t depend on you.”
“True, all my flowers are plastic, but I still have the occasional casualty. The virus shows us how fragile everything is and how much we need each other. Everybody has a list of stuff that can disappear in a heartbeat.”
He said, “Want to share your list?”
“Public radio, public television, and little local outfits. I subscribe to stuff just because they needed a push, magazines, newspapers, struggling artists. You can find places all day long.”
“Always. The karma doesn’t work if you run your mouth. Just send a note that says, thanks for what you do, and ask them to keep things confidential.”
“I have a few websites and podcasts that are sort of obscure. The light stays on because they love the sport, or the niche, or the passion. That includes a few good harness racing websites, or the people at Trot and Pace Marketing who video the fairs and qualifiers and post them, or the backstretch ministries, or horse rescue outfits. Slipping a few bucks of karma money to unsuspecting places always makes me smile like a monkey who woke up in a banana tree.”
He nodded. “That’s good medicine, we all should do it, and it shouldn’t take a cataclysmic event.”
“Not good medicine… good karma.”