To whet your appetite for the full novel, below please find the first 20 pages of The Success of Suexliegh. Don't be daunted by the one-hundred chapters the book holds, they are each only two pages long. Think of it like literary popcorn; work your way through just a handful at a time and enjoy.
CHAPTER THE FIRST The Greatest Man To Have Ever Lived
NOW, it is not every day that you meet a person better than yourself. However, for one man, every day he most certainly meets someone worse. This man is not a great political figure, nor gifted creative spirit, or someone who changed the world for the better through his achievements. He did not become famous for saving a life, or even taking one. He never fought in a war or stood up for what he believed in. He was not right when others were wrong, nor did he rise against impossible odds. In fact, he did little of anything truly important. Yet, he was everywhere. He owned everything. Man of the Year, twice. A walking, talking, smiling page of Encyclopedia Britannica. Even when he looked in the mirror, that man in the reflection was only his equal, never better. For quite simply, Suexliegh was the greatest man to have ever lived.
“Come now, Quincy, it will only be a few ticks more,” shouted Suexliegh over the plock-plock din of racquetball as he smashed a winning forehand past his cursing opponent, Victor Yardsley, a solid oak of British upbringing and a wonderful drinker. The two were heating up the racquetball pitch so greatly that the windows were beginning to fog from the effort.
“With respect, sir,” followed Quincy, a kindly, old bald eagle of a man, with feathers of gray hair and a gentle smile, “your guests are waiting.”
“With even more respect, my dear Quincy, a sporting man never leaves until he bests or has been bested. That’s the mark of a true gentleman. Advantage!” With a graceful pose only Michelangelo could recreate, Suexliegh lofted the ball and sliced a spinning ace off the wall directly into his opponent’s gut.
“Oof!” grunted Victor as his breath escaped him, “Foul! Foul I say!”
“The only fowl here is you playing like a turkey, my good man!” chuckled Suexliegh before tossing the racquet to a fumbling Quincy. “I do believe that is game, set, and match, old chap. I’ve worked up quite a Niagara of a sweat in our bout! Good form! Same time next week?”
Victor only grumbled as he threw his sporting shoes into the trash and scuffed his way off the court. Suexliegh snatched a towel from Quincy’s waiting arm and vigorously rubbed the sweaty shine off of his face.
“You know what they say, Quincy,” smiled Suexliegh.
“What’s that, sir?”
“It’s not about winning or losing, it’s about how much money you bet on the match! Haha!” Suexliegh pantomimed several of his memorable strokes causing Quincy to duck out of the way as his master whipped the racquet around at concussive speeds.
“Quite right, sir, now if you really would follow me out to the veranda,” said Quincy as he escorted Suexliegh, an exactly six-foot-tall-man with slick, oil-black hair, into a tailored suit, every stitch measured precisely to length. A piece of clothing that fit only one man on Earth.
“Yes yes, it is that time I suppose,” mumbled Suexliegh as he refreshed himself with a spritz of mint water straight to the tongue. “Now, Quincy.”
“Remind me again,” Suexliegh raised a well-groomed eyebrow, “why are all these lovely people at my manor?”
Quincy flurried with delight as he clasped his hands together and chuckled, his age countable in the creases of his smile. He pushed open the double doors with a heavy creak to reveal a veranda filled with hundreds of guests all holding glasses of champagne.
“Why, sir, don’t you know? It’s your birthday!”
CHAPTER THE SECOND A Carousel Of Cotillionites
“HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” they all cheered. Thousands of faces, all of them knew his name, how many zeroes his bank account held, his life story. When Suexliegh looked out into the crowd and smiled, it was like he knew every single one of them too.
“Thank you, one and all, for being here this fine evening and sharing the day of my birth,” boasted Suexliegh, knowing just when to pause for applause, and just when to start speaking again. As always, when eyes were on him, he was flawless.
“When I was but a plucky tike, my father said to me, ‘Son, one day you will grow up before you know it, but always remember, keep your heart young, for then you will never grow old.’ Everyone, a toast, to old friends and young hearts,” monologued Suexliegh, with every ounce of charisma he could conjure.
It was more than enough; not a dry monocle in the house as the guests lifted their glasses and sipped to their champagne futures.
“Now, I do hope you would accept my sincerest apology for being tardy this evening, I was playing racquetball,” the crowd roared with laughter, thinking his quip to be in jest, as Suexliegh egressed off the deck to immediate envelopment by alacritous guests.
“So tell us, Mr. Money,” chortled a piggly girl-raised-in-the-south, whose sparkling golden pendant strained to hold her jugular together, “just how old are you?”
“Oh well now, can’t we just celebrate my survival of another twelve calendar pages? Isn’t that enough?” swooned Suexliegh. Though he would look forever young, the only number Suexliegh didn’t like was the one currently affixed to his being. For time was the one thing he could not purchase more of.
“No!” came a roaring cheer, all enjoying the game.
“With wit like that, you must certainly be the devil!” snapped Grits. “What’s the big secret? Forty? Fifty? Come now, one hundred and eleven!?”
“Yeah, afraid ya might be gettin’ over the hill, or one step closer to goin’ under it?” retorted Grits’s sun-torched, grinning husband, a Texan; heremembered the Alamo.
Suexliegh paused, counting to five on the metronome wheezes of Mrs. Grits’s post-guffaw recovery.
“Why, I’ll tell you,” began Suexliegh, “I am, to the day, to the minute, to the second, exactly one year older than I was last year.” As the guests pointed their mouths skyward to eject an uproar of laughter, Suexliegh disappeared further into the crowd. Past oil tycoons and dot-com kids, past debutantes and heirs, past credit limits high enough to buy Australia.
These socialites, blue bloods, patricians, crème de la crèmers, they were a mix of money. Many inherited. Some marry into it. A few created their own. Regardless, they all had it, and they all spent it. They loved it. They hated it. They gossiped about money like it was a person. The Almighty Dollar was his name, and it was a pleasure to know him
But Suexliegh, he was different, for he was, quite literally, in the business of making money: he owned the world’s largest mint and printed green for the red, white and blue. It was rumored that the “S” in the American dollar sign was even created in Suexliegh’s honor. Though like many men of money, there was not much that he actually did for the company, other than be its number one customer. Suffice it to say, as much cash flowed out of his account as into it so even if every single person in the world went suddenly and unequivocally broke the mint would still need to be in operation twenty-four-seven. Tender, legal or otherwise, was Suexliegh’s game, and he played it very, very well.
CHAPTER THE THIRD The Frankenstein Manor
SUEXLIEGH MANOR had been converted into a wonder of the world for his birthday celebration: glittering gazebos stamped the yard depicting uniquely continental pleasures with names like Secret of the Orient, where silky Japanese concubines shiatsu’d away your nine-to-fives, and the African Affair, a private, savannah petting zoo Mother Nature herself would envy. To say the estate was gargantuan would be an understatement, for it was at least twice that. One hundred rooms, nearly as many baths, kitchens and libraries, manicured gardens that stretched beyond the horizon, enough butlers to fill the downs of a horse track and its own private dock, airstrip and zip code. A game of Hide-And-Seek played by a troupe of traveling dignitaries once lasted over twenty-two days and required the use of sophisticated global positioning systems and satellite arrays to track everyone down. Many claim it is the only man-made object visible from space, much to the chagrin of the Chinese populous.
The manor was a Frankenstein of sorts, imperfect in its perfection, but very much alive and well. A man as well traveled as Suexliegh, and a man who traveled in such circles, would undoubtedly come across abodes that he rather fancied. Instead of having an architect replicate the magical masonry of the original, Suexliegh would simply purchase it, extricating wood, wallpaper and all, and graft the new appendage on to his own house. It was the only way; Mr. Suexliegh did not want to be a copycat, you see. As such, everything from hand-tiled Roman baths to the scarred, creaking cellar door of a 13th century Belgian trappist, adorned the house like so many organ transplants.
“Suexliegh! Over here now Suexliegh!” shrieked a positively telephone pole of a woman. Living on nothing but caviar and compliments left her skeleton a common presence. She spoke his name with harsh incorrectness forgetting the “x” was silent.
“You simply must meet my daughter, Deidre,” Janet, as the skeleton was known, put so much stress on her words that they nearly had a nervous breakdown. With bird-like zeal she scanned the party-goers back and forth and called out, “Deidre, dear! Where are you?”
A brace-faced young girl, Deidre presumably, two knuckles deep in a bowl of guacamole, snapped her head around and smiled a metal, mottled green smile. Deidre stuffed a handful of crumbling chips into her purse before making her way back towards her mother while licking the salt off of her fingers.
“She’s simply lovely isn’t she? Her cotillion is next week no less so I do say my little rose bloomed at just the right time. I think she’ll look lovely in lavender. Lovely in lavender, listen to me, a born Dickens,” squeaked Janet. She eagerly motioned for Deidre to hurry over who had been distracted by a passing butler carrying a platter of deep-fried olives. She popped a few in her mouth and a few more in her purse.
“You have quite the gift of gab, Madam, perhaps you shouldn’t have French kissed the Blarney Stone. A friend of mine did so and now he even talks in his sleep!” Suexliegh shook his head. “His poor wife.”
Madam Skeleton’s bones rattled as she laughed. She was a coat hanger for her dress.
“Handsome and funny. You’re quite the catch,” she sidled up to Suexliegh with the grace of a sack of potatoes but Suexliegh ignored her and scanned the crowd, searching. “As of yet Deidre is unescorted to her cotillion, not that there haven’t been ample suitors mind you. We were merely looking for the right one… and I think I’ve found him.”
“Congratulations, I’m sure he’s a wonderful man,” slipped Suexliegh, not caring, nor realizing her borderline statutory implications. He was preoccupied, and rightly so, for all he wanted right now was a piece of his birthday cake.
CHAPTER THE FOURTH Quincy Sr., Quincy Jr., & Musings on Quincy the Third
AND THERE it was. Like the tower of Babel reaching skyward to the heavens, a multilayered nirvana of chocolate decadence. Cake that would make God himself forget his diet. A spindly blond butler, Quincy Jr., eagerly handed over a wedge of delight, careful not to spill a crumb, and within moments Suexliegh had fractioned the dessert. Quincy Jr. was the son of Suexliegh’s long time butler, Quincy Sr., who had known the master since before he was in diapers. As Quincy Sr. spent every waking hour looking over the manor, and with the unexpected birth of his son and the even more unexpected death of his wife, he was a widower and raised the boy to butler too. The boy’s, Quincy Jr.’s, only dream was that one day Suexliegh would have a son of his own, a Suexliegh Jr., one that Quincy Jr. could sign a life of servitude to before the young master could even control his bowels. Being a butler wasn’t much of a life for some, perchance even loathsome to many, but it was all Quincy Jr. ever wanted: to be needed.
“How are we, QJ? That’s Quincy Jr. for short,” chuckled Suexliegh, licking his fingers with culinary delight.
“We are most good, sir. The warm summer air should settle any conniptions the guests may have this evening. It will be a night to remember. How are… we?” stumbled QJ as he adjusted his posture back to perfection.
“So divine,” mumbled Suexliegh between chews. “So tell me, Junior, considering any college universities for matriculation?”
“I wouldn’t dream of it, sir,” started Quincy Jr. who nearly toppled the tray of cake in his worry. “My place is here with you.”
“Yes yes, very good but how will you ever meet a wife to make you Quincy Sr. and make you a Quincy Jr. of your own?” Suexliegh reached over and began forking bitefuls of cake as he listened.
Quincy Jr. blushed, he hadn’t thought of that, what with all the work to be done around the manor.
“I hadn’t thought of that, what with all the work to be done around the manor,” said Quincy Jr. astutely. “There will be time for that eventually, but for now, I just want you to have the happiest of days. It is your birthday after all, you only get one per year so you shouldn’t worry yourself one bit about my feminine troubles.”
Suexliegh became suddenly serious, a rarity for the man, for he, like many reputable doctors, believed laughter to be the best medicine and decided to overdose on such prescriptions as often as humanly possible.
“If I am standing between you and the fairer sex that is just… unfair!” roared Suexliegh who finally put down his chocolate-covered fork. “Why, Quincy Jr., you’re fired!”
Quincy Jr. gasped, his face The Scream. His life before his eyes.
“Bu-bu-bu-but, sir!” stammered Quincy.
“Don’t bu-bu-bu-but me, my good man. Go out there and find a girl with a nice bu-bu-bu-butt of her own and live happily ever after!” he said, slapping a bewildered Quincy Jr. on the backside as he stumbled, catatonic, into the crowd.
“Give it the old college try, lad!” chuckled Suexliegh who immediately delved into his next slice of manna.
“Ahem, sir?” said a nervous little voice.
“Ahem, yes?” Suexliegh spun around, showing the chocolaty geological record in his toothy grin.
“Sorry to bother you, sir, but we need to talk,” squeaked Ernie Grosser, who carried tissue paper in all his pockets, used on the right, virgin on the left. Suexliegh never saw his accountant unless there was bad news, and this was the first time he had seen the man since he was hired.
CHAPTER THE FIFTH April 15
“CAN'T YOU SEE I’m quite busy,” masticated Suexliegh as he forklifted another mound of enlightenment into his mouth and tried to ignore Ernie. The party had reached paragon conviviality and this was no time to talk business: the champagne bubbles were fizzling higher, the tall tales were growing grander. It was a night to see and be seen for everyone except Ernie.
“But sir, it’s April fifteenth,” Grosser whispered the date, as it was considered by many a terrible faux pas to even mention. A Black Tuesday come once a year. If even one person heard him say those words, the entire night’s festivities would collapse like a house of cards under Thor’s mighty hammer. Tax Day was always a period of great mourning for people like Mr. Suexliegh who often had to part with much of their beloved riches. Many created fake charities and opened off-shore bank accounts to keep “the Man in Washington” at bay, whomever that man was in particular no one knew.
“Yes, yes, so I’ve heard, my birthday,” clearly not amused by his accountant’s incessant interruptions. Suexliegh marched at a direct angle away from Ernie in hopes the crowd would somehow form an impenetrable barrier between them, but Grosser was surprisingly lithe and weaved through the human obstacles without a false step.
“And tax day. You never sent me your receipts, nor your earnings. You said you would, but you didn’t, so I called, but you didn’t return, so I came by, but Quincy said you were bathing, so I waited.”
“Is it a crime to be clean?” mused Suexliegh, picking up a fluted glass of champagne off the tray of a passing butler.
“For six hours, and you still didn’t show, so I left.”
“I don’t want to catch the bubonic plague now do I?” huffed Suexliegh before turning away. He snapped his fingers and the closest butler immediately fell onto all fours creating a perfect surface upon which Suexliegh could step. Using his new height advantage to survey the party, his eyes finally found Quincy Jr. who was attempting to converse with a female of the opposite sex in the Darwinian hopes of arriving at or near knowledge of a carnal nature. It was quite obvious he might soon be extinct.
“Good man,” Suexliegh stepped down and allowed the butler his leave, two grassy footprints marking him square in the back.
“This is a serious matter. You owe the government,” Ernie looked around suspiciously then leaned in, “a lot of money this year. All the cars, the planes, the parties, that city you bought in Scandinavia, not to mention the flights to France just to get those crêpes you like.
“I told you never to speak of that again."
“Sir, the IRS could audit you.”
“Oh IRS, what you need is a good helping of IBS. Here, have some cake,” Suexliegh lifted a black triangle of perfection right under Grosser’s nose. “I’m sure by tomorrow morning everything will be just fine.”
“All the experts agree, the United States has slumped into its worst recession since the Great Depression. And these same experts agree it is all because of one man, no not the President, but a globe-trotting entrepreneur named Suexliegh, leaving a wake of wealth along his many travels from Prague to Portland on his numerous private jets, whose failure to pay taxes on his enormous fortune has cost the government untold sums and caused the beginning of a world market meltdown.”
Suexliegh stared at the television in shock, “That’s just preposterous; I’ve never been to Portland.”
CHAPTER THE SIXTH The Beamish and the Barrister
“HOUSE ARREST! How can they keep me under lock and key like some sort of animal! I’m a human man!” exploded Suexliegh as he paced back and forth in his lawyer’s office. Wendell Almond, like most lawyers, had an office with a respectable library filled with respectable books that respectable people would nod at respectfully when they saw them. A grandfather clock swung lazily in the corner as Wendell flipped through a hefty stack of documentation three feet high concerning Suexliegh’s purchases from his birthday spectacular the night before. Wendell poured over every single receipt from “applewood smoked bacon” to “zoo keeper” and felt as if he experienced the party himself, though he was never invited.
“Well, wait just one moment… did they mention which house?” Suexliegh started, his mind racing as he strode around the room. “I do fancy a few months off in my Bavarian cottage right now. Those black forest ham sandwiches would much improve my current disposition.”
Suexliegh licked his lips at the memory.
“You were just on a six month sabbatical,” grunted Wendell as his hands idly opened a locked drawer where he hid his vices of fine whiskey and butterscotch toffee. He quickly slammed the drawer shut so as not to show a sign of weakness in front of his client. Almond had been Suexliegh’s lawyer since he was the ripe young age of eighteen and regretted the decision ever since. It took an entire, fully staffed office and a monthly ulcer just to keep the finances of this one man in order. If Suexliegh didn’t overpay him so graciously every month Wendell would have jumped ship a long time ago.
“Yes, and I’m still recovering from that,” huffed Suexliegh who crossed his arms and turned away. He began pulling on each and every book in the library to see if it might unlock a trap door.
Wendell looked blankly at Suexliegh, “I believe they mean your estate here, in this city, where you are currently standing.”
Suexliegh gave up his search and slumped, dramatically exasperated, into a welcoming chair that “foomp-ed” upon his impact. Wendell approached Suexliegh, pulling up a seat beside him.
“You must be careful from now on. This is the U.S. government we’re talking about: if there’s one thing they know how to do it’s prosecute American citizens. Just hold off on any wanton spending while the IRS goes through your records. It should only be a few weeks.”
“Weeks! I thought we’d be done by lunch! I’m hosting a caviar tasting at Lake Como tomorrow! Wendell, you know how much I love caviar and how much I don’t love eating it in the United States. Isn’t there anything you can do?” Suexliegh pleaded. Though Suexliegh was the reason for Almond’s receding hairline he couldn’t just hang his one and only client out to dry, especially one so horribly ill-equipped to deal with the nuances of life in the real world.
“Perhaps our good friend Salmon P. Chase can help us out!” said Suexliegh as he jumped to his feet, removing an out-of-print $10,000 Federal Reserve note bearing the bust of the late U.S. Treasurer, Salmon Portland, from his wallet. He never carried what he considered “peasant money,” or anything below one hundred dollars. Coins were especially out of the question as he believed in the principle of rounding up to the nearest hundred.
“Or perhaps Woody,” he pulled a similar note for one-hundred thousand dollars with the late president Woodrow Wilson on it. Rumor had it the bill was haunted.
“Are you suggesting we bribe the U.S. government?” Wendell sighed as he crossed his arms.
“Only a smidgen,” cooed Suex, clearly content with his plan.
CHAPTER THE SEVENTH Pennywinkle
“QUINCY, amuse me.”
“Yes, sir. How would you like to be amused?”
“Oh, I don’t know, surprise me.”
“Yes, sir… just how exactly would you like to be surprised… sir?”
“Bring me my gun.”
“Pull!” BANG! “Pull!” BANG!
Quincy delicately placed another Fabergé egg into the cannon and sent it spinning cloud-ward before it burst into a meteor shower of priceless nothing.
“Well shot, sir, that’s the last of them.” Quincy said, applauding.
“There must be something else to shoot. This is America is it not?”
“It most certainly is.”
“I tire of these trifles. Come along, Quincy."
And Quincy did. Suexliegh tossed him the massive elephant rifle which nearly toppled the feeble old man. He hopped in his golf cart and sped around his property searching for amusement, yet he was bored by the endless hedge maze, yawned at the jet ski obstacle course, scoffed at the private yacht on the private lake, and turned his nose up at the human-sized chess board. He was not in the mood for Scrooge McDuck-esque shenanigans as, sadly, a dive into a pile of money would be unable to cheer him up.
“Quincy! I need you!” Suexliegh flopped onto his Quad-King bed; four regular king beds fused together to create a surface large enough on which to play tennis.
“Yes, sir. Anything, sir? What is it, sir?”
“I can’t take this, I’m likely to be committed to a mental institution for cabin fever at any moment.”
Quincy checked his pocket watch.
“But sir, it’s just 9:35, you’ve only been up thirty five minutes.”
“9:35! My whole day wasted already. Damnation to the man in Washington! Someday I will find him and give him the what for. Perhaps I should take matters into my own hands. Yes, I’ve been thinking.”
“You shouldn’t do that, sir, it might tire you out.”
“Perhaps, with your help, the two of us could tunnel our way right out of the mansion. You dig during the day and I’ll take the night.”
“That’s one idea. Or maybe you’d prefer this.”
Quincy displayed a newspaper article about the opening day for a centennial horse race known as the Corona Crown.
“The Corona Crown is today!? I’m going to miss Pennywinkle’s race! I paid my prettiest penny for that horse.”
“Sir, why not just watch it here from the comfort of your home. I’m sure you can call in your bet,” Quincy said, picking up the rotary dial.
“But it’s not the same, Quincy,” Suexliegh lamented as he leapt theatrically onto his bed. “I need to hear the roar of the underprivileged crowd who set aside their measly earnings for one chance to taste greatness through winning a gamble. That and the good old scent of sweat and manure.”
Quincy paused, “I’m sure that can all be arranged.”
“Quincy, get my checkbook, I know how we can get to that race.”
“The checkbook is in your pocket, sir.”
“Oh, very well, sir.”
Quincy shuffled over and reached into Suexliegh’s side pocket, taking out the checkbook and pen.
“I’m coming Pennywinkle!”
CHAPTER THE EIGHTH Cheque Mates
SO SUEXLIEGH WALKED, further than he ever had on his own two legs, to the edge of his property, some eight furlongs yonder, until they reached a two-story high hedgerow which acted as a buffer for both sight and sound from his neighbors.
“Quincy, ladder,” ordered Suexliegh, ringing a little golden bell to get his attention, and promptly there was a ladder placed in front of him. Like a practiced circus monkey, he clambered up the rungs until he could just peer over the bustling hedgerows into his neighbor’s territory.
“I do say, Worthington, my good man,” shouted Suexliegh to a portly fellow with curly black hair clamped under a swim cap who glided through his pool, displacing water like an orca.
“Quite…busy! Come back…later!” choked Worthington through gasps of air. Suexliegh climbed fully onto his hedgerow and took a sit on the edge, surveying the property. It was nice, monocle and top hat nice, but to Suexliegh, it might as well have been manufactured by Mattel.
“If you’d stop your flapping for a moment, I have a proposition for you,” chimed Suexliegh who idly crossed his legs as he peered down.
Worthington fluttered to a stop and bobbed in the deep end. His supple, trophy of a wife, watching with mock interest from a chair set to “lounge.”
“Oh really?” snapped Worthington, angered that his BPMs had dropped below regulation. This rise in blood pressure wouldn’t help anyone.
“Quite really. I would like to buy your property.”
“You would what?” gurgled Worthington.
“Your property, I want it. How much?” Suexliegh removed his checkbook and pulled out a fountain pen, ready to sign.
“This was my father’s house, and his father’s before that, there’s family history here,” Worthington seemed to be in a state of disbelief at Suexliegh’s braggadocios behavior. His wife sacrificed her precious tanning time to sit up and watch the two negotiate.
“History, huh? Well, I’m going to write a one, followed by zeroes. You just tell me when to stop,” Suexliegh began to write zero after zero until it seemed Worthington’s eyes would bug out of his head. His pen quickly ran out of ink causing him to remove a portable well, unscrew the cap, dip then fill the pen, and continue writing as Worthington watched in amazement.
“There’s only so much room on one piece of paper, oh well, perhaps I’ll go over to the back.”
Suexliegh continued writing zeroes onto the back of the check with a steady progression.
“Looks like I’m almost out of room, perhaps I should just tear this up and bid you good day,” Suexliegh ripped out the check and motioned to split it in twain.
“Wait wait!” shouted the exasperated man as he splashed about, paddling his way over to Suexliegh, one arm outstretched to shake. “You’ve got a deal!”
Suexliegh smiled his pearly whites.
“Grand! Now get the hell out of my pool.”
So on they went, Suexliegh and Quincy, and in their wake left a trough of newly acquired land, technically now Suexliegh’s property, and therefore he was still technically under house arrest. Not a single homeowner could resist Suexliegh’s charm, or his charmed bank account. In no time at all they had cut a swath straight through Acropolis Heights, an uber-bia at the end of the rainbow where the rich and famous wish they lived, all the way to Uppington Downs, Pennywinkle’s luxury stable.
CHAPTER THE NINTH For Better or Horse
“PENNYWINKLE!” shouted Suexliegh as he rushed up to his prized racehorse and embraced the massive beast as best he could.
“From one stud to another I think you’ll take the carrot on this race no sweat! But I want a good clean trot, no funny business, you hear? Oh you must know I’m joking, Penny! Stand up straight, let me have a good look at you,” Suexliegh giggled like a schoolboy.
Pennywinkle snorted and stamped her feet as Suexliegh paced around the majestic beast, eyeing for imperfections but finding not a one. He fed Penny a handful of peppermints, her favorite treat, which she eagerly lapped up. The four-legged mustang stood over six feet tall, the color of an ancient oak, with muscles that Hercules himself would envy. Pennywinkle was the heralded offspring of two of the winningest horses ever to have graced the track, Honeydew and Bloodlust, whom Suexliegh fed and bred to create a racer of such supreme caliber that it might run down Mercury’s chariot were it ever given the chance. All these years of training had led up to today’s race of all races, the Corona Crown, that which Suexliegh desired above all else.
“Mmmmmmsuexliegh,” rang out a voice pitched high due to a lifetime of self-satisfaction. Suexliegh knew that voice. The voice of a man whom he hated more than most. In fact, more than all.
“Hello, Dingle,” seethed Suexliegh.
The man was Dingle Steeds, Equestrianaire, as much a thoroughbred as the horses he raced, born with a silver, honey-covered bit in his mouth. For a living, he raced horses, the very best. He loved to win, and win he did. Suexliegh would never let on, but if he could be beaten at one thing by one man, it was this man and it was horse racing.
“It’s going to take more than a two-bit pep talk for my stallion to be beaten by your walking glue factory,” he laughed receptively at his own joke. Dingle sauntered over to his private stable where his horse, Winchester, was held, humming all the while. It was rumored that the name Winchester came about for the horse’s qualities of both starting off like a shot and speeding faster than a bullet down the track. Winchester had never lost, for you see, Winchester had never raced Pennywinkle, and Pennywinkle had never lost, for Pennywinkle had never raced Winchester.
“Well, Suexliegh, you’re a betting man are you not?”
“Depends on the bet and whom is betting.”
Dingle sauntered over to Suexliegh and squeezed his chubby baby hands into tight, white riding gloves.
“The Corona Crown is all well and good and it will look smashing above my fireplace, but I say we up the ante: whomsoever loses must act as the other’s butler for a fortnight. Doing dishes, taking out trash, using the telephone, and all manner of other unmentionables.”
Dingle shuddered at the thought.
“What say you we up it even further,” said Suexliegh standing up to his full height and quickly dwarfing Dingle.
“Oh?” whimpered Dingle, stepping back a bit.
“Oh yes,” Suexliegh paced slowly around the stable, letting the moment sink in before locking his gaze on Dingle. “The loser may never race his horse again.”
“Ever,” Suexliegh said as they played a game of chess with their eyes until Dingle stepped cautiously up and extended his hand.
“I look forward to seeing Pennywinkle at the local petting zoo.”
“I look forward to seeing you at the local petting zoo when you have been forced into manual labor after a thorough and decisive trouncing by my horse-friend. Cheers.”
CHAPTER THE TENTH A View From On High
“AND THEY'RE OFF!”
Gates snapped open. Hooves churned soil. Onlookers leapt to their feet. Nostrils flared. Jockeys whipped. Bobbing snouts. Teeth gritted. Suexliegh walked into his private viewing suite just in time to see the first race of the day. His luxury box, placed atop all others, had prime real estate aimed squarely at the finish line. Every race was a heart-wrenching photo-finish. Lining the walls were massive television displays, one per horse in the race, which made sure Suexliegh could keep the closest eye on his competition. Checking for signs of fatigue, of malaise, of buttress foot.
The floor to ceiling wood paneling was dotted with golden trophies from Pennywinkle’s past exploits, all save for a single case, empty, but already marble engraved with his horse’s anticipated winning of the Corona Crown. Some might think that presumptuous, but the same some didn’t know Suexliegh for with each and every other trophy case in the room he had done the aforementioned. They say fortune favors the bold, but Suexliegh says the bold favor fortune. It seemed his winning streak was incorruptible, as if Lady Luck herself had taken the man as a permanent gentleman caller.
“Could I get you a drink, sir?” chipped Quincy as he made ready his master’s favorite lounging chair, placing before him the most luscious olives, cheeses, and dried meats intricately arranged on a silver platter. A separate, smaller platter held his prized dark chocolate, 100% pure South American cacao, prepared and distributed by a specially funded and organized team of planters, pickers, scientists, and delivery men, all adults mind you, no child labor, for the sole purpose of creating chocolate as dark as the heart of Africa and matching in richness to Suexliegh himself, for you see, he was a connoisseur of sorts, with a wolf’s nose that could smell succulence a mile out.
“A bit of Glacial would hit the spot just about now,” Suexliegh reclined and breathed deeply, content for the moment due to his past success with getting to the race, his present success with the bet, and his soon to be future success of owning the Corona Crown.
“Right away, sir!” Quincy darted off to a private nozzle, where, on tap at all times, ancient glacier water was piped from the South Pole. Water so pure and wonderful that Suexliegh believed it to be the elixir of life. Liquid heaven. One sip would kill the devil himself. While there were still glaciers left to be drunk, why not drink them? It was a pleasure he reserved for the finest occasions, of which today was one.
Suexliegh settled deep into his leather chair and swiveled his spotting scope race-wise, scanning the crowd, stopping only to visually heckle. The bleachers were made up of all walks of life from the dismally poor to the absurdly rich for everyone enjoyed good, healthy competition to forget about their worldly troubles. Besides, everything is much more fun when there is money at stake.
“Oh look at that man, Quincy, wearing a hat during the daytime, what a cad! Who does he think he is, Theodore Roosevelt?” Suexliegh snorted with glee.
“Would you like me to have him removed?” stated Quincy in all seriousness.
“No no no! Let him have his cake. I do so love coming here, it makes me feel like a commoner,” he said as he sipped of his glacier water and ate of his Grecian olives.
The day passed, fortunes were won and lost, hearts broken, a lifetime of stories told about animals running in circles. Then, just as the sun took a seat on the horizon, Pennywinkle and Winchester strode out onto the field to meet their destiny.
CHAPTER THE ELEVENTH Race Relations
“THERE HE IS, oh would you look at him,” fawned Suexliegh as he gazed longingly through his viewing scope at Pennywinkle, who stood majestically at the starting gate. “Like a wingless Pegasus.”
At the next stall over appeared Winchester, his black body rippled in muscular glory like a twisted tree trunk. Though in reality there were eight horses racing, there were actually only two. And though thousands were betting, it mattered for only two.
The starting gun fired with a crack causing Suexliegh to jump out of his seat and rush to the window.
“This is it, Quincy! Can you feel it!” chanted Suexliegh.
“Feel what, sir?”
“That I’m going to beat Dingle into a penniless pulp!”
“Yes sir, I feel that.”
And was it ever a sight to see. Equus Caballus. Two near-mythical animals paced neck and neck around the ellipse, quickly spacing several body lengths ahead of their competitors. The crowd roared with biblical fervor as they spoke in tongues, shouting the horses’ names.
“Pennywinkle!” “Winchester!” and so on.
“I don’t think I can watch anymore. It is too much for my heart. Quincy, tell me what’s happening,” Suexliegh fell, exasperated, into the chair, his arm draped melodramatically over his eyes in a mock faint.
Quincy, scopeless, squinted out the window attempting to distill such a grand moment in mere words.
“Pennywinkle is ahead. Now Pennywinkle is behind. Winchester is losing ground, now he is just losing. The two horses are neck and neck. I think one just bit the other.”
Suexliegh leapt out of his chair as the horses rounded the final turn shouting, “Oh I have to watch! Come on Penny!”
The louder the crowd roared, the more tied the race became until they were only a few seconds from the finish.
A knock at the door. Suexliegh whipped his head around: no one knocked on his door during a race. Such an offense was like telling an executioner that you had an itch on your neck, one that should be scratched by a guillotine.
“Quite busy!” shouted Suexliegh as he snapped back to the race.
“Open up, it’s the FBI,” shouted a gruff voice.
“The FBI, sir, we have a warrant for your arrest.”
“I don’t know an FBI, call again later,” Suexliegh returned his attention to the horses as outside the door there was momentary muffled chatter then silence. Suexliegh’s eyes locked on the race, Winchester was slowly creeping ahead.
Suddenly, the door ripped off its frame and a portly gentleman, presumably from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, stumbled into the room and fell face first on the floor. Several more men followed and quickly secured Suexliegh in handcuffs, pulling him out of his chair as the meaty man ungracefully got to his feet and dusted himself off.
“What is the meaning of this! How dare you interrupt in the middle of a sporting event!” cried Suexliegh. “This is a race between animals!”
“You men can’t be in here! He has done nothing wrong!” defended Quincy, attempting to bat the invaders off with a baguette.
The crowd burst into cheering and before Suexliegh could catch a glimpse of the outcome, the men tackled him.
“Did he win? What happened? Did Penny win?” Suexliegh was on the verge of tears as the men dragged him away. His answer would have to wait, for now, he was going to jail.