Study Guide

Ballad of the Sad Cafe and Other Stories The Jockey

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The Jockey

  • A jockey named Bitsy enters a hotel restaurant, waiting by the wall and judging the crowd.
  • The jockey sees a table of three men, and watches them.
  • He wears a green silk suit, tailored to fit his small body. His hair is styled severely.
  • A man from the table notices the jockey, who raises his chin and continues to wait.
  • The three man at the table are a trainer, a bookie, and a "rich man," — the last the owner of the horse Bitsy had ridden that day. All three are drinking; they've just been brought their main course.
  • The trainer, Sylvester, mentions the jockey's presence to the table. The rich man says to ask him to join the table, but the trainer says no, and the Simmons the bookie says that he's crazy.
  • Sylvester says that he's not so bad, just not doing well in the last six months.
  • Simmons says the way he's behaving has to do with what happened in Miami.
  • Sylvester tells the rich man that there another jockey was hurt on the track. He was a best friend of Bitsy's and they spent their free time together.
  • The three men continue to eat.
  • Sylvester talks about how wealthy Saratoga, NY is during racing season. Bitsy walks toward them.
  • When he accidentally bumps into a woman, he curtsies, then reaches the table and brings over a chair.
  • Sylvester asks if he's eaten, or if he'd like a seltzer. But Bitsy lights a cigarette and orders a bourbon. Sylvester objects.
  • The jockey sneers and asks if he remembers someone named McGuire. (McGuire is the injured jockey.)
  • Sylvester asks if Bitsy has heard from him, and he's says he's gotten a letter. Now one of McGuire's legs is shorter than the other.
  • Although Sylvester tries to be sympathetic, the jockey looks at the food on the table, watches the men eat, and then asks sarcastically if the men want more food.
  • Sylvester asks Bitsy to go upstairs. He rises and responds sarcastically again. Then he says he wants another drink (despite Sylvester not being keen on this).
  • The jockey leaves to order a cocktail, and Sylvester watches him from the other side of the room as he sips it.
  • Sylvester is dismayed: Bitsy has gained three pounds since McGuire's accident and lost his taste for food, and drinks like a fish. (Weight gain is a huge no-no for a jockey, as is a drinking habit.)
  • The jockey pays for his cocktail and comes back to the men. He accuses them of having fun as his friend's career is ruined.
  • Sylvester asks him to be reasonable, but this only makes Bitsy more upset. He shakes the table as if to tip it over and then plucks a couple of French fries from a plate instead. He chews and swallows, calls them libertines, (he doesn't think they have any morals), and walks away.
  • Sylvester shrugs, the rich man blots at some spilled water, and no one speaks until the dishes are cleared away.

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