by Trey Nosrac
We walked into intermittent cyclones of snow blowing off pine trees. I cinched the hood of my puffy parka. Turning to face David on the path behind me, I shouted into the wind, “If we get dogs and sleds, we can enter the Iditarod.”
My ears strained to hear his reply from behind a blue scarf, “You look like an alien with sunglasses over your eyeholes.”
Thirty minutes later, in the warmth of the Lexus. I said, ” These trails are terrific. I like hiking in the snow more than in the sun.”
He nodded, “No bugs, no crowds, and peaceful. These treks are a nice relief from COVID lockdown. The holidays will be rough sledding; Christmas 2020 will not find me decking my halls.”
Agreeing, I said, “What a year. It’s all getting very old.”
“New world, my friend.”
“A lousy new world for my Uncle Mickey. He’s my mom’s older brother, a great guy. He looks like the old actor, Walter Matthau. He introduced me to harness racing and took me to the track when I was a kid.”
“An owner, trainer, big-time gambler?”
“Nah, a $2 bettor, just a fan of the trotters and pacers. He worked at the post office and went to the track every Friday night. Then he came down with a neuro-muscular disease. He worked through it for a few years, but he had to retire early, in his mid-fifties. My aunt Doris took care of him. They never complained. Money was tight, they did okay, but before long, Mickey needed a wheelchair.”
David did not ask unnecessary questions. He knew this was my story.
I turned the blower fan down, “The week Mickey retired, I set him up to play the races on a cheap computer. I set up an account, showed him how to download programs, and linked him to a few harness sites. He took to playing his $2 online like a duck to water. Aunt Doris must have told me 20 times, ‘After Wheel of Fortune, he goes into his little office and is out of my hair.’”
I twisted on the wipers to clean off new falling snow.
“I took him to the track a few times to get him out of the house. Those trips were awkward. We didn’t know what to talk about on the drive, and Mickey’s wheelchair was a hassle. Life rolled on, and then came 2020 when Mickey got worse, mostly his legs. Aunt Doris couldn’t handle him. He had to go into a nursing home during COVID.”
David muttered, “Not good.”
“From what I understand, the place is wonderful. Well, as wonderful as those places can be. According to Mickey, the staff is caring, and they test weekly. So far, they have only had four patients who tested positive. They are not sure how the virus got in, but they isolated the infected people very fast. We heard that two died, two recovered.”
“Your Uncle Mickey, he’s okay?”
“Well, it’s a stretch to say okay, let’s say he is adjusting. Of course, nobody can visit him. I try to talk to him once a week on the phone, but Micky isn’t a big talker. I pretty much end up talking to myself.”
David gave a small shake of his head and sighed, “And here we are bitching about OUR Christmas 2020.”
Shifting the Lexus into reverse, the snow crunched as I backed out of the parking slot.
“I bought Uncle Mickey an early Christmas present this morning. I bought a matching one for myself. Easy shopping, no wrapping paper. I’m delivering it tonight. He’s going to love it.”
“Delivering, you mean you will drop it off at the front office?” He asked.
“Nope, I’m going to FaceTime him, explain the gift, show him some links and stuff.” The Lexus fishtailed a bit as we turned on to the main road, “You know about The Stable?”
“Sure. The outfit that sells percentages of yearlings?”
“That’s the one. I bought Uncle Mickey two per cent of an inexpensive pacing colt. I bought myself a per cent. Not to brag, but this is an outstanding gift. My Uncle Mickey will read every message about the horse, and he will watch every drone training session. If the horse makes it to the races, Mickey will be thrilled.”
“Nice,” he said.
“Yeah, and excellent for me. When I call Mickey, we will always have something to say. We can talk about horses, and especially OUR horse, for an hour, easy.”
David asked, “What’s the name of the yearling?”
“Will Get Through”
He smiled. “Very appropriate.”
We merged onto the interstate, and snowflakes blew off the hood. The wipers went back to work. We were silent for almost a minute, and then he said, “Hey, Trey?”
“Are any more shares available for Will Get Through?”