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Authors: Kevin Chong

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BOOK: My Year of the Racehorse
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“I like Bosco,” I say.

“I hadn't seen him in a while. I was worried he might have died. Did you see the way he walked?”

“Um, yeah,” I say, thinking how he tottered creakily, like my parents' nine-year-old Labrador.

To a point, I've missed Randi's mail route. I feel as though she wants me around; I like that. That said, if it starts raining, I'll definitely bail.

“Listen,” Randi says as she unlocks a grey storage box and loads her satchels with mail for the next segment of her route, “I feel really bad you lost Blackie. I know you loved that thing. I did, too.”

“It's okay.”

“Last year might have been one of my worst seasons. What with all those people not paying me, it's no fun being in the hole.”

“It wasn't that bad, was it?”

“It wasn't entirely bad. Don't put fucking words in my mouth.”

As we cross the street, a man walking a small dog calls out Randi's name.

“I haven't seen you for a while,” he says. “What happened—the horses not winning?”

“No,” she says, as she throws a biscuit to the dog, a chihuahua-pug mixture. “I just have to work.”

“So, I programmed my pedometer to my stride,” he an-nounces. “I walk 8,064 steps. Six miles.”

Randi turns to me. “We're always arguing over who walks more every day,” she explains to me. She turns back to the guy with the lapdog: “You don't understand that I have to walk into the houses and up the steps.”

The guy narrows his eyes as he works that into his calculation. “That might add, oh, another half a mile to your walk,” he tells us.

“Let me show you,” Randi says. She starts walking heel to toe in a line, like a tightrope walker, from the sidewalk to the front door of a house, and then to the next house. “It's almost the same distance from the sidewalk to the door as it is from one house to the next.”

“Well,” the guy says. “It looks like you'd pass a drunk-driving test.”

The two of us, plus the dog, follow Randi through the rest of her route, up and down Venables and Adanac. The guy with the dog tells me he's never been to the track. He doesn't like to gamble, he says. When he explains that he has the largest cigar-band collection in the world, I feign amazement. (No, he doesn't even smoke the cigars.)

I wonder what people make of this little parade. And then a guy steps out of a truck and calls out to Randi. “My father was a postie,” he tells her. “Dogs would follow him on his route, but never people.”

Randi laughs. “It's not so bad when I have people with me,” she says to us as we trail her down the block. “This is like visiting.”

I feel the first drop of rain smudge my nose but change my mind about deserting her. I keep on walking.

Author's Note

THE MATERIAL RELATING to Mocha Time and the racetrack can be verified online through various racing websites. While this book is non-fiction, I took some creative licence by conflating, making into composite characters, and changing names and distinguishing characteristics of friends and acquaintances. I did this as a way of protecting the privacy of others and sheltering myself from their anger. I've also exaggerated situations, occasionally, for comic effect; given myself the best one-liners in conversations; shuffled the chronological deck on some non-racing events; and thrown in one or two meaningfully traumatic experiences that actually occurred outside my year at the track.

Acknowledgements

AT HASTINGS, I'D like to thank Rosann Anderson, Meesoo Lee, Dan Jukich, Aki Otomo, Paul Mabbott, Marlo Dunn, Raj Mutti, Sid Martin, Chad Hoverson, Anne MacLennan, Tommy Wolski, and Horatio Kemeny.

Outside of the track, I'd also like to thank Maya Wilson, Anne McDermid, Michelle Furbacher, Martha Magor, Carole Serene, Wynn Allbury, Derek Fairbridge, Rob Sanders, and Peter Norman.

Copyright © 2012 by Kevin Chong

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior written consent of the publisher or a licence from The Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency (Access Copyright). For a copyright licence, visit
www.accesscopyright.ca
or call toll free to 1-800-893-5777.

Greystone Books

An imprint of D&M Publishers Inc.

2323 Quebec Street, Suite 201

Vancouver BC Canada V5T 4S7

www.greystonebooks.com

Cataloguing data available from Library and Archives Canada

ISBN 978-1-55365-520-6 (pbk.)

ISBN 978-1-55365-840-5 (ebook)

Editing by Peter Norman Cover design by Peter Cocking Cover photograph © Andersen Ross/Getty Images

We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the British Columbia Arts Council, the Province of British Columbia through the Book Publishing Tax Credit, and the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund for our publishing activities.

BOOK: My Year of the Racehorse
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