“You’re an idiot,” Karen said, shaking her head and looking away from her husband. “How in the hell is going to a horse race a date night?”
“It’ll be great!” Greg said excitedly. “You can get dressed up, they have good food, it’s just like going out to dinner but with something extra!”
“Yeah, something extra. You gambling away all our money. Again.” It stung but was true; Greg loved to gamble but was quite bad at it. Poker, slots, sports, any time money could be wagered Greg was there to do it.
“You can set my limit. And I’ll hold to it. There’s only like 10 races and you can just bet $2 at a time. That’s only $20, max! And if we win, then”
“Greg, Jesus Christ, fine. I’m going to give you $20. You lose it don’t come to me fucking crying.”
Over the following days Karen looked in to this race track thing and found it was at least a little better than she’d feared. The track seemed fairly nice, with plenty of food and drink options. Especially drink options. Greg spent the time poring over complicated sheets of statistics that he didn’t really understand, making his own list of horses that he wanted to bet.
The morning of the trip Karen pulled a nice, cool, flowing sundress from her closet that she rarely had a good reason to wear. It was bright yellow on the top and very tight around her athletic body, before flowing out to a black and green skirt that came down to below her knees. She completed the outfit with some oversized sunglasses and a floppy hat that she’d picked up on a lark in anticipation. She was a little disappointed to see her husband in jeans and an old college t-shirt, but she was used to it by now. She hadn’t married Greg for his fashion sense. Or financial genius. Or most other things that she could think of at the moment.
“So you remember your promise, right? $20?”
“Right, right, of course,” Greg said. “But if I win early, I get to reinvest those winnings, right?”
“Yeah, sure. Reinvest. You win you can do whatever you want with it. But if you lose the money,”
“Yeah yeah, I know.” Greg looked over at his wife. She could be a killjoy but she was something to look at. Her long, straight dark hair, brown eyes and pale skin combined with her breasts that seemed a couple sizes too big for her frame, also combined with the dress she was wearing, was almost enough to tell her to turn the car around and just spend the day ravaging her. But this would be fun, and he could always do that later.
Once at the track Greg went directly to a betting window. He had a whole sheet of information for each race and practically threw the $20 that his wife had insultingly handed him on the way in along with a series of bets that used up over half of it on the first race. Karen found a place with wine and ordered the cheapest white they had. Greg came over, took her hand, and felt like a baller as he led her out to trackside, betting slips in hand.
Karen didn’t really pay any attention to the race as it started and mostly just looked around at all the people. She felt appropriately dressed, and felt a little better about Greg since the guys there ranged from practically homeless looking to formal attire. Somewhere in the middle outfit was better than he normally did. The only really bad part was that this was apparently the last place in civilization that it was socially acceptable to smoke.
Her attention didn’t turn back to the race until she noticed that her husband had the same face that he did when he was close to orgasm as the horses rounded the final turn. He stood up and started jumping up and down while Karen just stared at him. Once the race was finished he let out a celebratory yell, grabbed Karen’s face and kissed her. Her eyes were wide and she looked frightened.
“A trifecta! I hit the trifecta!” he said, grabbing her by the shoulders.
“I won! I got a trifecta!”
What followed was an explanation of the ins and outs of horse betting that nearly bored Karen to tears before Greg finally got to the payout. He’d made over $300 on the race.
“Ok, but how much did you bet to win the $300?” Karen asked suspiciously.
“Just $5! It’s because the pool...”
“No, no, that’s all I needed to know.” Karen smiled. “Well, guess you did alright today then big boy. Maybe just ... pocket the money? Save it? We can buy something nice?”
That was only the first race!” Greg said, still excited. “If I reinvest this on the rest of them,”
“Gamble, you mean. Gamble the money.”
“Gamble, reinvest, whatever. Besides, you said I could.” He got so smug when he thought he was right about something.
“Fine, fine. I’m getting more wine,” Karen said. She followed Greg to the cashier and took a little off his winnings. This time she wasn’t getting the cheapest wine. She was getting the second cheapest wine.
The next two races were uneventful for Greg. He didn’t bet a lot on them and didn’t win anything. They were wandering around the track when Greg heard someone call out his name.
“Holy shit, Greg, is that you?” It took him a second but he finally recognized the voice, then saw him. It was Ethan, his roommate from his freshman year in college. They hadn’t been great friends at the time and hadn’t really kept in touch, but Greg was excited to show off how well he was doing.
“Ethan! It’s been, what, 10 years?”
“I think so! Haven’t seen you since freshman year!” Ethan was in great shape and was wearing a neon green polo shirt and white pants. He looked like he’d just stepped off a golf course. “What are you doing at the track?”
“Winning,” Greg said with a smile, pulling out his stack of roughly $300. Ethan smirked.
“Cool, good job.” He turned his attention to Karen. “And how much of that are you going to have to pay this poor girl at the end of the date?”
“All of it. I’m Karen, his wife.” Ethan took her hand and kissed it, making Karen giggle.
“Now why did you marry Greg?” Ethan asked. Karen held up her glass of wine and shrugged toward it. Ethan and Karen laughed. Greg took her by the waist.
“So what have you been up to?” Greg asked.
“Well, finished undergrad 7 years ago, went to law school at Duke, passed the bar 4 years ago, been working as a boring corporate lawyer ever since. How about you?”
“Well, ah, I married Karen, and I’ve been working at a biotech company,”
“He’s an assistant,” Karen interjected.
“Well, yeah, an assistant, but I’ve been,”
“An assistant. Since he got hired.” Karen enjoyed needling her husband about his lack of career ambition.
“Good call leading with getting this one to marry you,” Ethan said with a big smile. “Hey, I’ve got a box here. Usually some guys from the firm come, but it’s just me up there today. You all want to come hang out?”
“No, that’s alright,” Greg started to say.
“Jesus, yes, please get me away from all this cigarette smoke,” Karen said. She looked over at Greg. “Come on, you can bet on your horses there too. Let me get some shade and fresh air.”
“Yeah, there’s a window like right outside the room.” He motioned toward Karen’s drink. “And a minibar inside it. Come on, it’ll be fun. Live the high life.”
“Ok, fine,” Greg said, already with a bad feeling about this. Ethan could be an ass, which was a big part of why the hadn’t kept in touch.
The three walked up to Ethan’s box seats, which were much nicer than sitting in the bleachers. The box was big enough for roughly a dozen people, with a leather couch in the back and six seats in the front on a small deck that overlooked the finish line.
“What are you betting on this one?” Ethan asked as they sat down.
“Well, I like the number 3,” Greg said. Ethan laughed.
“3 scratched. Looked good though, too bad.”
“Oh, well, I like 7 too. Was going to bet on both of them, guess I’ll just bet on 7.” Greg stood up to head out to make his wager. Ethan pulled out a hundred and handed it to him.
“Get me a $20 exacta box on 5 and 9, with a $60 win bet on 9.” Greg reluctantly took the money and went outside to the window.
“$80 on one race?” Karen said, “isn’t that a lot?”
“Maybe. But it’s $100 bet, not $80. Boxes cost double. I’d need the 5 and the 9 to finish 1st and 2nd to win, but they can finish in either order.”
“You two should get along nicely,” Karen said, finishing her wine.
“More wine or something stronger?” Ethan pulled open a drawer in front of them and a refrigerated mini bar came out. It had individually sized wines, airplane bottles of liquor and bottles of beer.
“Is all that free?” Karen asked.
“Today, sure, it’s free.”
“Would you judge me if I said I’d always wanted to try Grey Goose?” Ethan laughed.
“No problem.” He pulled it out. “You want a mixer or anything?”
“I’ve got a better idea,” she said as Greg got back to the box and into his seat. “Put it in two shot glasses. I’ll do a shot with whichever of you two wins this race.”
“There’s a good chance neither of us will win,” Ethan said, pouring the shots.
“Then I’ll just have to take both,” she said with a smile.
“Ok, I’ve got the 7, Ethan has the 9,” Greg said, a little annoyed at how well the two seemed to be getting along.
“How much did you bet honey?” Karen asked. Greg didn’t say anything. He handed Ethan the tickets that he’d bought for him and watched the horses get in to the starting gate.
The horses took off and this time Karen paid a little attention. The 9 horse hung around the back of the pack while the 7 took off to an early lead. Maybe her husband had found something he wasn’t a dumbass about. Around the final corner, though, the 9 made a hard break and charged for the front. With just a few feet to spare the 9 took the lead and earned a clear victory. Greg started cursing.
“Here you go,” he said, handing one glass to Karen and taking the other. “To betting the favorite, sometimes it’s the right play.” Karen clinked her glass against his and downed the shot. It tasted just like every other vodka. Oh well.
“Relax honey,” she said once she noticed Greg was still fuming. “You’re still up how much?”
“Like $100,” Greg said, settling down.
“Weren’t you up like $300 before?” Karen asked, eyes wide.
“It’s my money, don’t worry about it.” Karen shook her head and slouched in the chair.
“How about this next one?” Ethan asked, looking over his program. “The 2?”
“The 2 is garbage,” Greg said, thumbing through his notes. “5, 7, those two are way better than the rest of the field.”
“The 5 is coming off a pretty big layoff, are you sure”
“Yes, I’m sure. How about this time you go put down my bet?” He pulled some twenties out of his pocket. “$50 boxed exacta, 5 and 7.”
“That’s the rest of your money,” Karen said tersely.
“Right. My money.”
“Sure, I can go make this one.” Ethan stood up and headed to the window.
“He’s such an asshole, right?” Greg said once Ethan was out of earshot.
“I don’t know, I think he’s nice. I think you just don’t like losing.”
“Yeah but that was bullshit, he got lucky.”
“Whatever. Better hope you win this one or it’s your last bet.” Greg grumbled and Ethan got back with the tickets.
“So how did you two lovebirds meet?” Ethan asked, sitting down and opening three beers. Karen almost never drank beer but she took this one without comment, which set Greg even more on edge.
“About 3 years ago I was tending bar to get through college, and this guy was a regular there after work. One day he asked for my number, and he was cute, and he was nice, and I felt bad so I gave it to him.”
“Wow!” Ethan exclaimed. “Got the bartender’s number! Very impressive!”
“So we went on a couple dates, got serious, and were married a year and a half later.” Karen took a sip of the beer and resisted the urge to grimace. “How about you? Single? Dating? Married?”
“Single. Got any sisters?” Karen laughed.
“Yeah but ... you could do better.”
“You must’ve gotten all the looks in the family.”
“She did,” Greg interjected. “Her sister is super ugly.” Karen punched him.
“Jesus Greg, she’s a little plain but that’s mean.”
Mercifully the horses started loading into the gate, distracting the trio from the conversation. The race started and the horses formed a tight group through most of it. Toward the end the 5 faded all the way to last, with the 7 winning and the 2 finishing 2nd.
“Hey you got the winner, that’s good right?” Karen asked. Greg ripped up the ticket and growled.
“Got to hit both to win on an exacta,” Ethan explained.
“Oh. So now you’re broke,” Karen said plainly.
“Look, Karen, I’ve got a good lead on this next one,” he said desperately.
“Oh hell no,” Karen said. “I told you, lose your money and you’re done.”
“Come on babe!” he whined. “I know I’ve got this one.”
“Tell you what,” Ethan said, “I’ve got no clue on this one. Give me your picks, I’ll put down the money and we’ll split what we win.”
“5 to win. 10 to show.”
“You got it buddy.” Ethan went to place the wager.
“See? He’s nice.” Karen said. She was a little drunk.
“I can’t believe you’re drinking beer. You never drink beer.”
“It was free beer.”
“Maybe you should slow down,” Greg said, sipping on his own.
“Ha! The guy that just lost $300 on two horse races wants me to slow down.” She opened the minibar again and pulled out a wine.
“That shit is expensive,” Greg said, angry now.
“Taking you anywhere with gambling is expensive. And besides, Ethan is paying for it.” Ethan got back with the tickets just in time.
“Only $10 per bet?” Greg whined. Ethan ignored him. The race went off, and Greg’s horses finished way back.
“Well,” Karen said, standing up a little wobblily, “I think we ought to head out.”
“One more,” Greg said, emptiness in his voice.
“Ethan, it’s been very nice to meet you.” Karen picked up her purse.
“I said one more.”
“You’re out of money.”
“Stake me one more time,” Greg said, turning to Ethan. “$200 on 10.”
“Greg, buddy, no.”
“We’ll split the winnings. If it doesn’t win Karen will make it worth your while.”
“Mother fucking excuse me!?” Karen roared. Greg stood up and pulled Karen out into the hall.
“I need this. I fucking need this,” Greg said. “This one, I’m 100% on. The 10, he’s the favorite. He’s the only one here that runs well on grass. I know,”
“I know I’m not fucking some guy so you can feed your gambling addiction.”
“No, you won’t have to. The 10 is going to win. And I’m sure he’ll do it for just head, it doesn’t have to be sex.”
“Why the fuck would you need to negotiate it to head if you’re not going to lose, you fucking dumbass.” Karen sighed. “Ok, so let’s say I say yes and it loses.” She put up a finger to stop his protest. You’re ok with watching me give head to Ethan?”
“It won’t happen.”
“Sure, sure ok, but if it does. That’s something you can live with? Whoring your wife out for a bet at a race track?”
“Whatever, it’s just head, yeah I could live with it.”
Karen made a lot of decisions in that moment. None of those decisions precluded her from sleeping with Ethan.
“Sure. Let’s do it.” She took her husband’s hand and led him back into the box. “Ethan, if the 10 doesn’t win I’ll give you head. Greg has decided he’s OK with that.” Ethan’s eyes went wide.