the bowling alley

A short story. Based on a dream I had a few nights ago :)
also I went to the eiffel tower today. whatever though, right?


I joined the bowling club when I was 16 years old. I had nothing to do last summer, and I didn't really want to get a job so I told my parents that I'd take up a sport. Granted, I'm not too keen on getting sweaty for the sake of some points, so I took up bowling since it seemed fun and not too stressful... Apparently I was wrong.

Everything was going pretty normal. I was with a few other kids my age who were just starting out as well. Some of them were awful -- honestly I still have no idea how it's even possible for someone to aim so perfectly into the gutter each and every time, but the majority of everyone else was on about the same level. After the end of our second week together, our coach, who was a pretty blonde lady called Dana, told us about weekend games if anyone wanted to come and play. You could tell that nobody was really interested; the life of a teenager revolves around partying in the weekends after all. As I was packing up to leave though, she came up to me and passed me a piece of paper.

"I expect to see you there", she winked.

"Wait... I'm pretty busy in the weekends though", I replied nervously.

"Oh no, it's not about that. Those weekend games are rubbish. Just look at the form and see you there", she spoke quickly, without really looking at me.

I unfolded the note and saw that it had just an address and a time -- 7.30pm tonight. I thought that I might as well check it out since I had nothing else to do... and so began my year of chaos.

Bowling 15's by ggarfield

The address, as it turned out, led to a back alley cafe that was extremely run down and appeared to be empty. Upon arriving though, Dana came out of the door and quickly whisked me inside, looking around cautiously. I seriously thought I'd become part of some underworld drug deal at that point, but the truth was something you couldn't have imagined -- a set of stairs led down from behind the counter of the cafe into the most luxurious bowling alley I had ever seen. You might see it one day -- if in fact you count being blinded by neon lights and deafened by the loud booming coming from the DJ across the room as seeing anything at all.

I looked around. An old man who looked like he was a walking skeleton picked up a transparent bowling ball and slid it down the track effortlessly -- strike. That was Roger, as I'd later learn. A brunette girl who looked even younger than myself looked on, sucking on a lollipop, juggling another transparent ball between her hands -- Roger's grand-niece Cathy. The unbeatable team, apparently. I choked when Dana told me that their balls were made from reinforced glass -- solid, perfect, invisible.

Then there was the confident looking Japanese man in his 20s, sporting a shaggy haircut and italian leather dress shoes at a bowling alley, counting a huge wad of money. That was Takuya, who as I'd later learn, loved to talk about his brother. However, his descriptions of this so-called brother ranged from "he's the scariest guy you'll ever meet in the yakuza" to "ahh, he's so little and cute, you know he just learned to talk the other week, and now he can say TAKA, TAKA!" This was not at all aided by the fact that every time we met this brother he seemed to shapeshift -- from a quiet 14 year old boy to a 26 year old female singer-slash-model, from a grumpy middle aged man to an overly friendly golden labrador. A year later now, I'm doubting that he even has any siblings. As for his bowling, he throws the best curve shots anyone has ever seen -- a definite advantage in the ridiculous obstacle course games we have to play...

And me? You may already have guessed (although perhaps not believed), but I'd been invited into this exclusive elite bowling team. Apparently, I had 'potential'. This initially scared the shit out of me because I'd only been bowling for about two weeks. Gradually, I grew to enjoy it. Love it, even. Every month, we play a game for money with another team. Usually the winnings are around a few thousand bucks for each player, and although we've lost some, I've definitely made a profit. I gave up a lot to bowl, and I feel like I've discovered something I have a passion for, for the first time in my life. I guess I'm just telling you about all this so that when I miss this next shot my story will live on somehow -- because once I fail this my team's gonna kill me.

I'm faced with a short vertical wall going down the middle of my lane, exactly cutting half the pins off from the other. The objective is to throw the ball so that it knocks down all the pins on one side of the wall, then hit the gutter so hard that it would travel a bit up the side of the lane, come down either onto the wall or over it, and knock down the other half of the pins. And I have a nasty feeling that it's harder in practice than in theory...

The bet on this game is $10 000 per player. I only have about $6 000 in my bank account at the moment. I think everyone else in my team can pay up their share, but they'll kill me for making them lose 10 grand.

I exhale, close my eyes and watch the shadows of the neon lights light up my eyelids. After an eternity, I open them again, wishing that my heart knocking against my ribs were the ball knocking against the bowling pins. The weight of the solid sphere in my left hand seems to double as I wished the earth would come up to swallow me whole. I inhale slowly, take my step forward... and let go.


Ruiji said...

Oh wow, is this even real? It seems way too dramatic.

Ruiji said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ruiji said...

I meant I just noticed the 'short story'.