Shame did not come when fat Tony pressed the greasy envelope into my lap beneath the pub table. Fat Tony smiled, nodded and got up to go, winked as he left.
Brisbee thumped my shoulder then.
“Popped your cherry, you have. Let’s have another round.” Bris motioned for the whiskey. I suppose I drank, caught up in the moment.
Nor had there been shame in the blur of my room when I counted the bills, more than I would make were I to give Sultan his head and let him win by the hundred or so yards I knew him capable of.
In the gray haze of morning my head thumped from the drinking and lack of sleep, but I could take no coffee until after the race. A single cup of coffee might add a pound or more, especially when my tissues were absorbent from last night’s liquor.
Shame came only as I approached the stables. Sultan’s eyes brought it, the shame of what I would do, what I was doing. I might explain it to myself, say it was only one race, only money.
Sultan would only know what I did. He would never know why. He would never care.
The shame would be his.