Bowling (Flash Fiction)

Bob walked into the alley, and he saw Brian ordering a pitcher at the bar. He waved and walked over to join his friend.

“Howdy,” he said with a nod.

Brian nodded back. He took up the beer pitcher in his hand. “Keep the change, Susanne,” he said. Susanne rolled her eyes at the two dollar tip. “Bud Light,” Brian said with a smile. “A whole pitcher just for us.”

“Well take it easy there, big spender,” said Bob with a sarcastic surprise on his face. “I had no idea this was going to be such a fancy date. I hope you’re not expecting me to go back to your car with you later.”

“You wouldn’t know what to do with somethin’ so big,” Brian said as he walked to their lane. “Hell, son, you’d be downright frightened.”

Bob chuckled and followed his friend.

They claimed their spot, the second lane from the end, and setup shop. A bullshit session immediately fired up, and they finished half of the first pitcher before a bowling ball even touched their hands. Burgers were ordered, and Bob insisted on a jumbo basket of fries that they could share together, “Ya know, to make this date real special.” Susanne just rolled her eyes again.

Forty minutes later, they final began to knock down pins. The competition between the two was fierce since they both equally lacked ability and skill. As time went on, it became apparent that average scores dropped as blood-alcohol content went up.

“It’s nice to get out,” said Bob.

“Yup.” It was their third game, and Brian was beginning to sway in his subtle way. Each turn took longer as he held the ball inches from his face and tried to force his eyes to see a straight line.

“Catherine thinks we go bowling as an excuse to drink,” Bob said with a chuckle.

“Women are so dumb,” said Brian. “Like we need an excuse.” He took a long stride, one that would look somewhat remarkable if he were intending to lunge, and threw his ball down the lane. “We don’t go bowling as an excuse to drink. We drink so that we can make excuses for our bowling!”

Bob smiled and watched as Brian’s ball lingered toward the gutter. The purple orb spun inward while moving toward that edge, and Bob felt a cheer begin to form in his throat. But at the last moment, the ball found traction and turned in. Now Brian felt a cheer, and he watched the ball collide with the pins. There was a soft explosion, and Brian was left with a 7-10 split.

“Well shit,” said Brian.

Bob laughed and slapped his leg.

Brian shook his head and walked to the table. He drained the pitcher, their fourth one, and gave a wobbly wave to Susanne. She gave him a dark glare and only shook her head. “Susanne says this is our last game, Bob,”

“I see, I see,” he said. “How ya gonna handle it?”

Brian burped and walked to the ball return. He scowled at the purple ball as he picked it up. “I’ll just knock ’em down I guess.”

Bob laughed. “I’ll take that bet.”

Brian staggered to the line and held the ball to his face. The lane was blurry in his sights, and the two standing pins looked like giant middle fingers of white. Brian grunted and tossed the ball, lunging so far that a few seams of his trousers began to let go. The ball careened down the lane, heading straight for the corner. It clipped the edge of the 10 pin and sent it flipping to the opposite side. The 7 pin took a slap to its side and teetered… and teetered… and fell back into the pit.

“Woooo!” shouted Brian. He nearly fell in his attempt to celebrate.

“Well hol—lee—shit,” said Bob. “What do ya think are the odds of that?”

Brian smiled wide. “I’d say they’re pretty damned good, Bob. It just fuckin’ happened!”

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