Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Time To Bowl!

“It’s time to bowl.”

Though she spoke the words quite softly, they hung heavily in the air, and the stunned customers at the bar stopped their conversations mid-sentence. Tommy stood behind the taps in shocked disbelief, unblinking, even as the glass he had been pouring shattered at his feet. From down on the corner stool, Janelle let out a faint whimper, then burst into tears. A dog howled off in the distance.

The night at the bowling alley had been over a year ago, but still I lie awake most evenings, drenched in cold sweat, fearing sleep and the inevitable dreams, dreams with images so vivid, so real, it’s as though it happened yesterday.

“I … I’m not ready. I don’t think I’ll ever be ready ...” I managed to stammer.

I thought back to that night, to the pitchers of stale beer sloshing on the wobbling bar tables, to the teenage painted jezebels with the already fading tramp-stamps on lane 19, to the awkward first date unfolding on lane 8, to the madman on lane 2 drunkenly pontificating about how the holes in the bowling balls represented love, fear, and sin. I remember the words she whispered, words from her lips but spoken with a demon’s tongue, words not of our language, yet clearly conveying sordid tales of terrible horrors beyond our world, and I remember pins flying like gangland bullets and the strobe lights of Disco Bowling and the Ouzo, my god, the Ouzo flowing as she picked up one 7-10 split after another, and Peggy Lee singing “Fever” on an endless loop on the jukebox, and then she was dancing, swaying slowly, and suddenly there was no one but us in the alley, no one but us in the universe, and I remember just wanting it to end and to go on forever …

I remember waking up in the zoo, but I have no recollection of the night beyond what I’ve described. There’s an oddly shaped scar on my chest that seems to change color with the phase of the moon, and I haven’t seen any squirrels in my yard since. I thank God for the mercy shown by keeping those dark hours from my consciousness.

She put her hand on mine and leaned toward me, her mouth so close I could feel the heat of her soft breath. She whispered the words again.

“It’s time to bowl.”

I could feel the tears starting to well up as she stood and led me from the bar. The somber faces of the other patrons weighed upon me, and I wondered with each step how I would find the strength for the next. Billie Ann was sobbing uncontrollably and screaming at her “Why? Why does he have to bowl? Why can’t you leave him alone?” Tommy was able to mutter “be strong, dude …”, but it was without real conviction. He knew.

She led me to the door and out toward the street, continuing to whisper, almost chanting the words.

“It’s time to bowl.”


Sarah said...

This post and the fact that you brought a giant fish head to my house today...you're getting weirder.


Sheri said...

I think you are hilarious!!Oh, and a little weird, but aren't we all?

The Dead Acorn said...

Sarah - the little fish head would have brought little tiny radishes, and I think at some point, I get a beer out of this, when GIANT FUCKING SQUASH TAKE OVER THE NEIGHBORHOOD!

Sheri - thanks! Although that post was a really serious one, because it's all true. My funnily-intended posts are ignored; my tragic bowling posts, where I'm trying to maybe finally face what happened that night, maybe seeking a lifeline ... they get taken as funny/weird. I don't think I'm doing this right. Damnit!