Sponging- an award winning Flash Story only for subscribers

Okay, so this story took third place in the 2019 Storgy Flash Fiction contest. It appears in their book, and nowhere else. I offer it here as a treat, an amuse-bouche… okay, a bribe, to those who subscribe to my newsletter. This isn’t available on the rest of my website without the link, and you can’t get it without falling into my evil newsletter web.

But since you’re here, enjoy this tale of horseracing and petty revenge.

This story is decidedly NOT about Kent Desormeaux

I have about thirty seconds to pull the sponges out of the horse’s nose or go to jail. That’s not easy when your fingers are covered in pony snot and the god-damned thing is tossing its head trying to breathe. But, you know, prison. La cárcel.

            The trick to sponging a horse is to put the little pieces far enough up their nostrils they can’t just blow them out, but not so far you can’t retrieve the damned things before anyone discovers them. When a favorite like NewtoMe finishes in the back of the pack, you know they’ll be looking for a reason. It’s your ass if they find it.

            It sounds simple.  Just before post, get nose to nose and nuzzle your ride, then insert the sponges when everyone’s view is blocked. Doesn’t really hurt the animal. The horse can run but can’t fill its lungs properly, so she won’t win. On the lonely walk-of-shame to the paddock, you pull them out and hand the reins over with a shake of your head and a, “Guess she just didn’t have it today.”

            Then collect your money. Once — twice a month at most. Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered.

            In the paddock tunnel, I dismount where fewer people can see. The fat gringo owner’s storming my way with Joey the trainer not far behind. Apparently, they can’t wait to get to the barn to rip me a new one. I have nothing against NewtoMe, she’s a fine filly, but the cheap asshole had this coming.

            Fifty yards out I hear him cussing and yelling.

My fingernail grazes the slimy chunk and I miss. The damned horse tries to nip at me. Losing a race is one thing, I need my fingers.

            Thirty yards and closing. Joey’s begging him to calm down, and it’s not working.

I pull my boot away before hoof stamps it to jelly. It’s damned hard work controlling something that outweighs you by nine hundred pounds.

            I turn my back and look the filly straight in the eye. Whispering, Cálmate, niña,” I jam two fingers deep into her velvety nostrils, hook my fingernails around the sponges, and tug. One of them slides down as it should, the other stubbornly stays up there. I can feel the boss’s breath on me as I thrust one more time, catch it, pull down, and both sponges fly to the ground along with a stream of mucus and a little blood.

            “What the hell was that?” The fat old cabrón yells at me, but I can’t look him in the eye. All I see are two dime-sized chunks of slimy sponge at my feet. “Why didn’t you put the whip to her?”

            I want to say, “Because it wouldn’t have mattered, you hijo de le grande puta. Might even kill her.”

            Instead, I slide my boot over the evidence and place the nasty, snotty reins in his soft, white hands.

             “Guess she just didn’t have it today.”

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