He was a half-millionaire once, or damn near that, though he didn’t know it, because he was asleep when it came and went. After the seventh race at Aqueduct, a Friday triumph, a big score on the biggest bet he’d ever made, he partied out. Really out. He didn’t know that he was padding his bankroll considerably with the late games on the west coast that he’d bet earlier. He would’ve liked to see that number – the amount he was up, that fat number bisected by a comma, scribbled, as was his habit, on the gray pad next to the phone. But he was out, unmoving and oblivious to the pendulum of his fortunes. He didn’t see the sun come up or the afternoon linger the next day. Passed out cold until the sun sank low, he didn’t know that he lost a succession of Saturday football games, on bets he’d made the night before when he was flush with cash and courage, in epic fashion. But, for a time after San Diego State won in a blow out, and before Syracuse lost the next day on a late interception, he was rich.
A couple of days later, when his head cleared and he did the awful math, he stared at the figures for time through a veil of cigarette smoke. The collector came by on Wednesday, and he must have seen the confused look on his quarry’s puss. “Money comes, and it goes, ” he said as he poured shots into dusty rock glasses “as do all of us lost souls.”