Sitting at his campfire, between his rust bucket truck and his dilapidated trailer, Albert toyed with the embers of the dying fire while listening to his favorite instrumental on the 8-track tape in the Fucker Only Runs Downhill — “Earschplittenloudenboomer” by Steppenwolf. His isolated home in the Shoshone Mountains of Nevada. His nearest neighbor: a mile away a meth lab in a similar trailer.
Albert grew up poor in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. Dropped out of school at fifteen and lived on the streets in Hamburg. Met a Nevada show girl mit dem großen k-knockers vacationing there. Activated the charm. She thought he looked like the “German actor in the Swedish coffee commercials. I’m going to call you ‘Joe’.”
He moved to Vegas with her and had a winning streak in gambling, especially betting the horses. Until that fateful day when Beverly texted him: ‘Oh, Johnny, Oh, 7th race, Del Mar.’ She’d eavesdropped many times on a professional gambler. Always paid off. Joe brought up the website: No horses or jockeys named Johnny in the 7th race. Googled “Oh Johnny, oh” — skimmed the lyrics to a variety of old songs. Do-saw-Do from a square dance version. Dose y Dough, a horse in the 7th race. Rookie horse, rookie rider, owned by Escobar Farmacéuticos, 50 to 1 odds. That has to be it. Placed his bet — the max $2000 to win.
Promenade took first place.
He never recouped from the loss. He could not get the stupid song out of his mind. And his visitor’s visa expired. Beverly left him for a Salvadorian laborer who looked like the Mexican actor, Diego Luna, in Rogue One.
Down on his luck, Albert headed for the mountains. While hiking in deep snow he found the abandoned trailer and truck. No indoor plumbing. He gutted what was left of the trailer and recycled materials for cash.
Sorting through newspapers to bundle tight for fire logs, somewhere between the obits and Sudoku pages, he came upon a yellow legal size sheet of paper — a handwritten letter. “Dear Dave.”
A woman yammering on about how far it is between her office and the guy’s house. Trying to help his deaf friend find work, casual labor, slim pickings. The ramblings of a psycho, love-sick girl.
I’m sitting on your front porch step writing this letter. By that time I realized the ringing I’d heard wasn’t in my head. I peeked in the kitchen window. “You have a landline? It’s 2018. Nobody has
About to feed it to the fire, he hears a phone ringing. He stands and turns in a circle, his eyes scanning the pinion pine forest covered in snow. No one there, but the letter in his hand rings a bell, and he realizes it’s a missing page from Stephanie to Dave.
No indoor plumbing, but he has the internet. He googles “Dear Dave” — one page found by a woman in Carson City gave her the ability to turn any plants she touched into marijuana. Last seen roaming the high desert, turning sagebrush into potted plants.
He reads the letter again. “Saturday Morning.” — the name of a new racetrack in California. He makes a list of numbers from the letter and two names that click with him, looks up “Saturday Morning” racetrack website for October 12 and places a bet.
Racetrack: Saturday Morning
10:30 gates open
Three third race
7.3 number of races 7 & 3
1 to win
53 number of Slim Pickings
27 number of Casual Labor
Both longshots. Both won.
He deposited his $1200 winnings in his account. Strapped on his snowshoes and headed down the mountain.