>DISHLICKERS

>The air, well it’s clear. Night time winter clear. Wet cold atmosphere tearing up your nostrils. Bringing to mind pure oxygen, the clear ambo’s mask with the little clip cutting the bridge of your nose. Much older, safer now, of course, hands plunged deep into jacket pockets, the queer plastic money coating my fingers.

Why I prefer to walk, I’ll never know. The anonymity in those dark spaces between the streetlamps, maybe. The scuff of bitumen turns to a gravely scratch, and I know I’m close. Up above, the floodlights beam down intermittent yellow. Those few hardy winter moths skitter above, tracing personal paths.

I’m greeted at the gate. Nodding, saying nothing. Down through the chain-link gates. Sky opening up, matt black above the artificial green and brown. The old fruit bowl smell. I place my bets and walk to the track. I sit with the usual figures, bent over, paper-taloned. Sensing the dogs rush by, never moving our eyes from the finish line. Imagining our money, up there somewhere in the empty air, deciding whether to float or fall.

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