Joss cradled the stiff-brimmed hat, embroidered with a gold and ruby stallion.
The television girl’s brilliant green eyes bored into him. His 19-year-old knees, scarred and reset, quavered in her spotlight.
“Nice hat. Worth it?”
He clutched the brim: a drowning man grasping a rescue line.
Shame stole his words. No prize, no 8 seconds, would ever make her see what he was beneath the sweat and dust.
She finished. Took her crew and disappeared into the country-fried crowd.
Later, in midnight silence, Joss walked away. The hat remained unworn, waiting for one who could truly claim it.