It’s what he does these days…
There was a time, not too far back, when the story was quite different. When the action was all that mattered and the daily necessities of life such as food and clothing always seemed to take a back seat and wound up either in second place or out of the money entirely. When bills seemed to mount up quicker than any horse he could lay money on and became nothing but a stack of unopened mail that usually got tossed. When the collection agency made his life a living hell and he was afraid to pick up the phone. When friends were forsaken in the name of “the game” and when lies seemed to just roll off his tongue and begin to collapse amongst themselves.
He tried to explain that it wasn’t about the money, that it was about “the action” or the high he got from the betting life. He knew he was lying, not only to those who asked but to himself. Anybody who’s ever placed a sizeable wager on the outcome of a game knows that “the action” is always better when you get to pocket the winnings. Anybody who tells you different is either just bullshitting you or trying to run some kind of con.
He remembers the sleepless nights spent worrying over things of which he had no control. He ran the figures through his head and calculated the odds in his dreams. He prayed to whatever god that would listen to just give him the good fortune to hit the one big score to keep him going until the next time. He borrowed from Peter to pay Paul and then he borrowed some more. His checkbook remained unopened and unbalanced; the numbers were all in his head.
His friends began to back away, he was taking the things they found enjoyable and turning them all into some kind of life and death struggle. He barely recognized the signs and alarms going off all around him. Obsession became a way of life.
A change of seasons meant little more to him than a change of venue. The action shifted from one type of game to another, because to him, the season never ended and the games had to go on. It was what he did. It made a part of him who he was.
He couldn’t tell you how long it went on. For those who share his path, they know that memory soon becomes a casualty and eventually, soon becomes a victim. All he knows is that he woke up one day and all of the rules had changed. What might have killed him or left him bent and broken now looks like a blessing is disguise.
Life is slower these days. The games go on like they always will but he remains a not so innocent bystander. These days, rather than betting on games, he’s betting on rainbows. He’s betting for them to come and take him away and to lead him to his pot of gold. Even though the odds of that happening are incalculable, they are much better than the ones he once played.