Springs Racetrack is a world-class horse-racing center that hosts live races from January through April, and features simulcasts and other gambling events throughout the year.
The official vet for the track is Hot Springs native and former Eagle Scout George Forrest.
George is Cora’s counterpart in every way – smart, attractive, active, principaled – with one major difference: He stayed in Hot Springs while she left. George stayed partly for family reasons: His mother died when he was still in high school, and he helped raise his three younger brothers and sisters while putting himself through the local community college. His father promised that then George could go to the university in Fayetteville, but when the time came their no-good father disappeared, leaving George stuck in Hot Springs holding what’s left of the family together.
George has such a big heart that he’s always being taken advantage of, even by those who love him, but that’s also his saving grace. His lifelong love of animals led him to get a job at the horse track, and he decided to become a veterinarian. Commuting to college in Little Rock while also holding down his job and taking care of his siblings, he finally got his degree and became the track’s official vet. And the Old Timers of Hot Springs as well as its young underworld – the street kids and drug addicts – go to him for emergency medical care.
One such waif who washed up on George’s doorstep is Taryn Piper, a runaway turned dancer at the Exquisite A Go Go who’d been beaten up by her drug-dealing boyfriend. George patches Taryn up and helped her get into a rehab program. When she got out of rehab, he hired her as his assistant to keep her away from her old life, and ended up falling in love with her. The two married, and a year later had a daughter, BETH, named for George’s dead mother.
But Taryn couldn’t handle the life of a wife and mother, and eventually started using drugs again and left George and Beth, returning only when she needs help. George is struggling to finally break the bond with Taryn and to raise his now-six-year-old daughter alone. The two live on a houseboat on Lake Hamilton on the edge of town, gorgeous and peaceful but frighteningly close to the meth labs hidden in the deep Arkansas hills and woods.
George’s brothers and sisters are now grown and gone, all successful professionals, which makes George proud. But he’s left by himself to manage his world, and he’s sorely in need of the help he’s always given so freely to others.
Read George’s side of the story.
The delicate six-year-old daughter of George and Taryn, Beth is painfully shy and barely speaks since her mother left. In fact, the breaking point in Taryn and George’s marriage was when Taryn brought Beth to a meth lab during the day so she could get high. But little Beth still misses her beautiful mother, and doesn’t understand why she’s gone. Taryn’s sporadic reappearances only confuse the little girl further. Beth attaches herself to Juliette as a surrogate mother, following the teenager all over town.