Brubeck is presently in an escalator on his way to the thirteenth floor of a big city centre office block. Stopping on this floor, he steps out and reads the signboard on the glass door of Luke Amato’s fashionable office suite.
“King of Races and Aces. No bet is too big or too small for us.”
On entering the office a smiling Stanley notices a bandaged man behind the counter. Initially he doesn’t recognize Luke.
“Good afternoon. I am here to see mister Amato,” the visitor tells the man, who turns around to face him.
“I am Amato. What can I do for you?” Luke inquires.
“Oh, it is you, Luke. What happened to your face?” Stanley asks in a friendly manner.
“It is none of your damned business,” Luke verbally explodes hitting a hand on the glass counter.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to offend you,” the visitor apologizes.
“Skip the crap. Did you bring me my money?” the bookmaker hisses through his teeth in his swollen face.
“No, but I can explain,” the horse owner replies uncomfortably.
“There is nothing to explain. Our deal was that you would settle your account two days ago. Do I look like Father Christmas to you?” the bookmaker verbally attacks the horse owner.
“You look more like the bogey man with your swollen face,” Stanley mumbles, more to himself.
“What’s that?” Luke asks ruefully.
“I am only saying that I just returned from overseas. Hence the delay in payment,” Stanley says trying to justify the delay.
“You have money to go squander around overseas, but cannot repay me? Try to explain that to me,” Luke insists.
“Right now I am a bit short in cash. The reason for that is I bought this horse, My Delight, which will be featured in the Mescot,” Stanley replies with a little hope of getting out of his present predicament.
“My Delight. That’s your horse?” an astounded Luke inquires.
“That’s right. What does it mean to you?” Stanley asks surprised at Luke’s sudden change in attitude.
“A lot. Why didn’t you tell me earlier?” the friendlier Luke asks gesturing Stanley to accompany him into the interior of the office. “We have a visitor,” Luke shouts to the back and turns on Stanley.
“You owe me R50 000 right?”
“Yes, but I don’t have it right now to repay you. I’ll pay you after the Mescot Race,” Stanley replies with Ingrid entering the office space with two glasses and a decanter on a tray.
“Hallo, Stanley,” Ingrid greets evasively. Her face is all patched up.
“You, too? Have you people been in some crash or something?” a shocked Stanley inquires.
“It’s nothing serious, just some misfortune on our part,” Luke defends, gesticulating to Ingrid to leave the scene. “As I was saying you owe me the money, which you obviously cannot pay back right now. Only because of that I am prepared to cut a deal with you.”
“What sort of a deal?” the horse owner asks, drinking from a glass.
“One that will be to our mutual advantage. I am prepared to wave the fifty grand in exchange for a favour from you,” the shrewd Luke intimates.
“What sort of favour are you talking about?” Stanley wants to know.
“Nothing extraordinary, just something technical. Your horse needs to lose the Mescot,” Luke says watching the other man’s reactions closely.
Totally taken aback, Stanley reacts indiffe-rently.
“You must be joking. I have invested all my money in that horse.”
“Realistically speaking it could mean a quarter of million Rands in your pocket, minus the money you owe me,” Luke plays his cards.
“I don’t think I can nor want to do that because it will be unethical. Besides, the horse has a co-owner. In fact, we confirmed the partnership deal just this morning. The horse means a lot to both of us,” Stanley tries to talk away the criminal proposal.
“By the way, who is your partner?” Luke asks.
“Jockey, Colin Macaskil,” Stanley replies proudly.
“I should have known, that son-of-bitch,” Luke exclaims.
“In don’t think you should be talking like that about Colin,” the horse owner warns.
“I tell you what, how about buying him out? Surely the quarter of a million should be enough for that? Luke says retrieving a briefcase filled with money from under his office desk. “How about this?” he lures Stanley in submission.
Greedily looking over the money in the opened briefcase.
“Wow. You are serious. With this kind of money I will be in a position to buy him out and even repay him the money I owe him, too,” Stan says.
“Now you are talking business, my kind of business. Take this money. Just don’t disappoint me. Make sure the horse loses. Are we agreed?” the bookmaker insists.
“Why the hell not? I’ll talk to Macaskil tomorrow,” says Stanley, shutting the briefcase. He gets up, shakes hands with the bookmaker and exists.
“There might be more in this deal for you,” Luke says, bidding the horse owner goodbye as he shuts the door.
“He has taken the bait,” an elated Ingrid says returning from the back of the office.
“Yes, we are on the verge of becoming stinking rich, thanks to that idiot, Stanley,” a happy Luke says, dancing with Ingrid.
The same evening a jovial Brubeck would visit Colin, who had been discharged during the day from hospital, at home. He could not wait until the next day.
“Get us some glasses, Colin. We need to celebrate,” Stanley announces entering the jockey’s house with an expensive bottle of champagne in one hand and a briefcase in the other.
“Sure,” Colin says retrieving two glasses from a wine cabinet ushering his long time friend to a chair in the spacious lounge.
“How are you keeping?” Stanley wants to know.
“I feel fine, thank you. I told you I would be fine,” the host replies.
“Good. Now let’s drink to health, wealth and happiness,” Stanley says, filling up both glasses.
“To our partnership and the Mescot Race,” Colin interjects.
On hearing this Stanley’s attitude immediately changes.
“I am sorry to say, but there is not going to be a partnership anymore,” Stanley states.
“May I know why?” the puzzled jockey asks in a disappointed voice.
“Well, if you have read the fine print in the contract, you would have noticed that either one of us has the option to buy out the other,” the horse owner says.
“Wait a second. What’s going on here? Please explain yourself,” Colin reiterates.
“Nothing sinister is going on. I am just in the lucky position to buy you out, right now,” Stanley announces.
“But until a few days you were as broke as I am. Did you win the jackpot or something?” a surprised Colin observes.
“Let’s just say the situation has changed for the better, so much so that I am in a position to repay the R100 000 I owe you. Isn’t that a relief?” Stanley asks.
“Of course it is, but where’s the money?” Colin inquires in wonderment.
“Right here,” the horse owner says theatrically opening the briefcase onto the coffee table.
To be continued