Jorge Chavez lunged forward as the beast under him burst out of the starting gate and all hell broke loose. Thundering hooves, pelts of dirt, and driving rain assaulted his senses. As he settled into the rhythm of his mount’s dominant stride, he grew more confident that his winning streak was unstoppable. The scent of horse flesh under duress was heady. There was no better drug than the power he felt at commandeering an animal ten times his weight across the finish line.
He was the wealthiest jockey in history. On the cover of Sports Illustrated. On a winning streak. On top of his game.
Effortlessly, he roared past the competition in quick succession. Only two contenders remained close near Tremaine’s shoulder reluctant to forfeit their lead. Tremaine’s breathing came in short, measured bursts as his heart pounded to the beat of the frantic race. They were nearly there. The finish line was in sight. Then . . .
“Mr. Chavez. Mr. Chavez.” A slight jolt to his shoulder woke him abruptly. He was sweating and agitated.
“What do ya want?”
“Mr. Chavez. It’s time for your meds and a blood pressure check.”
“Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.” Animosity hung in the air between the day shift nurse and Jorge. His rudeness was meant to stave off conversation and it worked.
Only this time, it wasn’t so effective. As the nurse opened the door to leave, she looked back at him and said, “Your wife’s here to see you. She’s been waiting for some time.”
Jorge grimaced, pulling himself up into a sitting position. Glancing down at the limp bed sheets, he shuddered and waves of nausea spiraled through him.
Before he had time to prepare, Maria was next to him grasping his hand. She swiftly bent down to kiss him; salty tears brushed his cheek as he turned away.
“Jorge, what is it? I’m here for you. Te amo.”
A silent wall assaulted her.
“Jorge, life has been so good to us. Don’t worry. You’ll be home soon and everything will look better.”
No response. Jorge’s bitterness obstructed her every effort.
“Jorge, you must listen to me. I still love you. I’ll always love you.” Desperation filled her voice. “Please,” she whispered.
Forcibly, by sheer willpower, Jorge turned his head toward Maria, still not meeting her eyes. Shame, humiliation, and fear had become his new companions. There was no room for his wife.
An anger burst forth. “Look. Look at me. I’m half a man now. I can no longer ride. I am worthless.”
“Jorge, don’t you understand that I love you? Nothing else matters to me. The money, the fame—that’s what’s worthless. We were happy in Mexico—we had our church, our family, our faith. We can move back home. Your family will help us. They love you.”
As Jorge’s black eyes met her tear-soaked ones, Maria was shocked to see only darkness gazing back—no emotion, no love. She trembled.
“I will never return home. There is nothing there for me.” He pushed her hand away. “Now, go . . . and don’t come back.”
Maria’s eyes widened. Her heart was as broken as Jorge’s body. Her first thought was to run, but this was her husband. She slid off the bed and moved toward the door. Though her mind was a jumble of negativity, she blurted out a message of hope from deep in her being.
“Jorge, El dios le ama. Usted lo ha estado buscando en todos los lugares incorrectos. Vuelva a su fe. Podemos hacerla con esto juntos. Te amo, Jorge. Te amo.” (Translation: Jorge, God loves you. You have been looking for Him in all the wrong places. Return to your faith. We can make it through this together. I love you.)
Jorge sat motionless, devoid of emotion. “Goodbye.”
"And He said to them, 'Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed, for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.' Luke 12:15
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