Big Freddy was folding his morning newspaper when I joined him for coffee.
“What’s new?” I asked as I settled into my side of the booth.
“Orb won one,” Freddy said.
“Orb who?” I asked.
“Orb — the horse that won the Kentucky Derby in a mudslide,” Freddy said.
“The world’s coming apart at the seams, and you come up with a horse winning a race as being what’s new?” I asked.
“You asked for it,” Freddy said. “This horse winning this race for Shug McGaughey was new. Shug’s spent a lifetime trying to win one. Never has. Has now.”
“Shug was the jockey?” I asked.
“Shug was the trainer, and while I’m at it, Joel Rosario was the jockey and the track was muddy,” Freddy said. “Orb came from way back wearing a mud pack and all Rosario had to do was hang on and steer.”
“Enough already, I wasn’t thinking about horse races,” I said.
“You should,” Freddy said. “Cleans the mind of half the world from going to hell in a hack. The Derby is special because it makes news once a year. You can depend on it. Let us be thankful. All we’ve been getting is the bombers this, and the bombers that, and we needed a break.”
“Well, bombing the Boston Marathon was once in a lifetime of news,” I said.
“It better be,” Freddy said. “We don’t want to be hearing anything like that again. But the Derby? You can bet on that.”
“For those who like horse racing,” I said.
“And we are legion,” Freddy said. “But fans pick and choose. Sports are where we escape to whatever it is we need to escape from. Some have seasons. Horse racing goes on somewhere all the time. “