Me and some mates went to a greyhound race the other day. We couldn’t lose, or so we thought.
We decided – off our own back – to see if we could make some money on what we thought was a sure thing. You see, this particular race was a bit different. It was very low risk. In fact, no risk. Or so we thought.
I know what you’re thinking; “All gambling has an element of risk you plonker!” Well, in this particular case, we weren’t betting on who would win. We were betting on something much safer than that.
We were betting on all the dogs finishing the race! Yes! And the dogs’ owners were taking bets – at pretty low odds I have to admit – on each dog not making it to the finish line within an hour.
Well, we had borrowed a truck-load of cash from the bank and gambled – well, it was so low risk we all actually called it an investment – quite a large sum of money. Cos you know, 2% of a hundred billion is still a lot of money – two billion to be exact!. Yeah, I know a hundy bill sounds like a lot, but we know the ropes in this game. We do it all the time. So we took an individual bet on each dog finishing. Ten dogs, 1 hundy bill each per bet, one trillion in total. 2% of a trill is twenty 20 bill return in total, a shed load of beer and bolly money!
So we took a quick look at the dogs, and they all looked pretty healthy. Well, when I say they all looked healthy, nine of them did. The tenth – Greasy Boy – well he looked a bit mangy. Actually, to be honest, a couple of them looked a bit past it, but hey, we weren’t expecting them to win the race, just get around the track inside an hour. Given a normal race is about 5 minutes, they could have crawled around in that time and still had time to spare. Done deal!
Still, one of Greasy Boy’s back legs kinda moved weird – almost like it was wooden – and he appeared to be bleeding from a wound to the head. So we thought, just to be safe we’ll see if anyone wants to insure us. Sure enough a well dressed guy called Tom said he would and we were sweet. He made a fair whack from us in commission so he was happy.
So the race starts and for the first few minutes, it looks good. Well, when I say it looked good, five of the dogs got round in no time. Wohay, ten billion profit in the bag! But the others, well, they weren’t looking so good. Greasy Boy in particular looked like he was struggling. It turned out pretty early on that that weird looking leg was wooden. And not that well attached either. It fell off almost straight away.
Shite! We agreed Greasy Boy was going to have to lose some weight if he was going to get around on three legs, so we decided as a group it was best to chop some part off, you know to lighten the load. So we lopped off his tail.
This actually seemed to make things worse. All the experts told us this would work, but no, all he did was start bleeding from another wound. By this time 40 minutes was up on the clock, and five of the dogs still hadn’t finished, although at least four were still moving, albeit pretty slowly.
Greasy Boy though. He’d stopped moving. In fact, a couple of times, he turned around and tried to go back the way he’d come. So we gave him a couple of kicks, and also decided to chop his other back leg off to make him lighter, although I think a couple of the guys actually agreed to it ‘cos they wanted to punish him.
This had a really weird effect. It actually seemed to make him angry! He gave us this baleful look and started dragging himself down the track. But – THE WRONG WAY!! We couldn’t work out what he was doing! We yelled and screamed at him. At all the noise, the other sickly-looking dogs looked over their shoulders at Greasy Boy.
Then, one of my mates made a terrible mistake. He picked Greasy Boy up, turned him around and carried him a little way –the right way -down the track, while trying to encourage him to walk.
On seeing this, all the other dogs, who by now were really struggling, stopped moving. Greasy Boy stopped moving. They all looked at us. Expectantly.
Now, we’ll do anything to win a race me and my mates, but we were not going to carry these bloody dogs over the finish line. Because, if we did, according to the rules we’d have to forfeit half the bet we’d made on these 5 mutts. That’s 25 billion down the drain, which more than wipes out the ten bill we had already made! No way were we going to get our hands dirty; we wanted our money!
This was particularly as Tom the insurance guy had only ensured us for loss of the profit, not the whole bet. And the commissions we had paid him were pretty steep, so we were looking at a vat full of red ink.
Then I got this horrible feeling.
Greasy Boy knew. He knew.
He knew we would keep chopping off bits until he either got past the finish line, or died. So what was the point of finishing if he was going to suffer so much in getting there?
He had nothing to lose, we had everything to lose and he knew it. In fact, I think he was starting to realize he could just head off back down the track the wrong way, re-attach his wooden leg and he’d actually be better off.
Worst of all, he also knew that if the other dogs saw him give up, or get carried over the line, they would expect the same treatment. And beyond that scenario lay the abyss. A trillion dollar deep abyss, which no one gets out of. Horror of horrors, we may even end up having to cash up some of our PERSONAL assets! This was turning into a bad night.
Greasy Boy was in a mess. He was still bleeding. The remaining dogs were in a mess, and getting floppier by the minute. A couple of the guys had chopped off some of their legs too, to try and lighten them up, but that seemed to be making things worse for them as well.
And by now, there was only five minutes left on the clock.
Then we made another mistake. One of our guys secretly whispered to one of the other dogs (appropriately called Portly Girl), telling him she might get carried some of the way if she tried to move. Unfortunately, everyone, including Greasy Boy, heard him.
Greasy Boy looked at us. We looked at him. The other dogs looked at us. We looked at them.
The clock ticked down one minute.
Simultaneously, my mates and I, well, we just became hysterical and may have even lost control of some of our bodily functions.
We tore up to the owners, incandescent with rage. How dare they set up such a stupid race, where what looked like a sound investment ended up being a dangerous gamble. How dare they let us take such a risk! Greyhounds always finish races for Chrissake!
The owners were initially quite calm. “Come on guys” they said. “You knew there was a risk. That’s the fundamental nature of any investment, which is why you get paid interest if the gamble pays off.” We didn’t like the sound of that; we were too used to winning.
“Anyway, they continued “you guys must have insurance, and being sensible guys, you’ll still have plenty of cash right”?
It got a bit embarrassing at this point. Not only did we have to tell them the dollars we had left in our bank accounts – like the ones we had spent – were all borrowed, we’d just found out that Tom the insurer had also been gambling on the race, and was about to lose his money too. And he’d rather been hoping this one would come in because his bank (who had also been betting on the race) wasn’t giving him anymore money. So Tom couldn’t actually pay us our insurance cover, or anybody else he had insured.
At this point, the owners went a bit pale. “Hang on they said “Are you telling us none of you have any of your own cash left”? We, including Tom and a few of Tom’s friends and Tom’s bank manager all looked at the ground and shuffled our feet in the dust. No one spoke.
“What about all that money that the banks gave you for the races last week?” they asked. Again, there was silence. Last week hadn’t gone too well either to be honest.
Then the owners got really angry.
“What did we tell you last week, when this exact same thing happened!” they roared. “We said be careful this time because our mates at the Big Bank said they wouldn’t invent any more money. Not ever. Ever!”
As he said this, he waved his arms around, and I noticed that he had his fingers crossed. The other guys noticed it too. We exchanged glances.
Just then; the bell rang for the end of the race. Shite! We turned back to the racecourse, to see all five of the remaining dogs lying either dead or dying in the middle of the race track, some distance from the finish line. Greasy Boy was covered in blood.
The man from the Big Bank had heard all the fuss and had come down to see what was going on. I have to say, we were pretty relieved to see him turn up, cos once he realized how bad things were, he was sure to knock the dogs back into shape, change the finish time for the race, and get those blasted mutts over the line. He might even carry them.
He came over to where we were standing. He was a small man, who always clutched a big, impressive looking text book to his side. On the cover was a big graph, with two straight lines that met – with reassuring certainty – in the middle.
He looked over at the dogs lying bloodied and supine in the track, and then up at us. To be honest, he looked a bit pissed. But then he gave us this wonderful smarmy smile, and we knew everything was going to be alright.
He opened his text book, and flipped through the pages to a well-thumbed page, and paused, running his finger along the lines on the page, while whispering under his breath as if reading aloud.
After a moment or two, he stopped, slapped the book shut and peered up at us, a look of relief on his face.
“Well, he said, glancing over at the more or less lifeless bodies of the five dogs “It looks like it’s going to take another couple of leg amputations to get you your money back.”
We nodded excitedly and a couple of us might have even gone “Woop Woop.”
But then a vet came up. The dogs were dead. Every one of them.
The Big Banker sighed.
“Let me guess” he said. “You’ve bet all the money I gave you on these dogs?”
“No!” we were relieved to be able to say. “Just half.”
He pursed his lips. “Naughty naughty” he said.
We looked at the floor and nodded humbly.
Then, he took out his magic wand, and touched each of us on the head, saying as he did so “I grant you a zillion dollars.”
“About bloody time” one of my mates said.
“And for the 457th time, don’t do it again” the Big Banker said, looking each one of us in the eye for a brief moment.
Suddenly, we all felt really hungry. The Big Banker looked over at the dog’s bodies on the track.
“Anyone fancy a BBQ?” he said cheerfully.