Saturday, May 8, 2010

League Night

Caroline heard the car door slam, climbed into bed, turned out the light and pretended she was asleep.
His bowling ball made a soft thud as he set it down. She could sense him standing over her at the edge of the bed. He reeked of beer and cigarettes. She clutched the wooden handle of the kitchen knife under her pillow ready to use it if he tried anything. When Caroline heard him leave, she sat up and in the darkness started crying.
Harland was the name she called him. She still was uncertain if he was friend or foe.
For a few days now, she'd been held prison when her ship ran ashore in a land with no vegetation, where everything was made of a pristine synthetic material. Even the ocean floor of this planet still gleamed with the same illustriously varnished glow it had been installed with.
At first Caroline thought it impossible to communicate with this thing, this Harland. That is, until she saw him bowl. Bowling was similar to the form of communication on her planet.
Each pin would represent a letter and in knocking over sequential pins could you begin to decode a message.
Many of Caroline’s friends and the people she hung out with could easily knocked down ten linguistic pins with one ball and depending on the order in which they fell form sentences. Sure, good eyes were needed and you had to be adroit in perceiving the fractional differences of what pin landed first, but that all came with practice. Since there were only ten possible letter arrangements, one could master it while still young.
As far as she could tell, bowling appeared to be the only cultural link between her society and his.
Harland however, had no idea about Caroline’s customs, he bowled because it was relaxing.
She was excited to find a set of dominos while she was looking for something to defend herself against this Harland.
She set-up ten dominos forming a triangle and plucked a small, round stone from the dirt of a potted houseplant.
If may have been slightly out of proportion but Caroline was skilled enough to roll the stone to say what she had to say.
Although she was trying to convey to Harland that she was hungry, he deduced she just wanted to go bowling.
“Sure, no problem, Tonight’s league night. You can come and watch,” he said.
Enthusiastically nodding, she believed he understood.
Caroline became quite upset at the bowling alley because she wasn’t allowed to speak while Harland and others babbled on nonsensically. They all appear to be moronic thought Caroline.
However, when Harland picked up a 9-4 spare in the fourth frame, he had inadvertently made a derogatory comment out Caroline’s hair. She was so incensed over his comment that she got a lane for herself, picked up a ball and started bowling. There was plenty she wanted to get off her chest to this Harland.
Caroline spelled out; Apologize now!
Her second ball was another strike whereupon she complained she was still hungry.
Harland heard the resounding tumble of pins as he dried the palm of his hand over a vent of air. He and the others began to take notice, and glanced over at Caroline’s lane to see if she’d get a turkey with three in a row.
Strike. Caroline said. Thank you, now that I have your attention, there are a few things I’d like to say.
“Wow. She’s good,” Harland muttered to himself.
With the fourth strike Caroline explained she didn’t particularly care for her living conditions and wanted to leave.
Harland and the others cheered. This infuriated her to no end. How dare they cheer! Caroline thought it extremely rude behavior.
She grabbed the ball from the ball-return and while gliding gracefully with each step, affixed her glare on Harland.
You and your friends have no couth. You’re boorish and I’m getting a headache.
Again, these miscreants cheered, whooped and hollered.
“She wasn’t even looking at the pins!” Harland cried in awe.
Caroline had enough. She stood at the line without even walking up to it and in one fluid motion hurled the ball.
You’re all a bunch of assholes, said Caroline with her sixth strike as she stood with her arms akimbo staring them down.
By now, everyone in the bowling alley had gathered around Caroline’s lane.
Her seventh strike was a bit more humble.
Please, I’m begging you. Take me home. I can’t stand this anymore. I need to get my ship fixed so I can leave this wretched place, I’m hungry, I’m tired and I must return to a place where I’m wanted, and treated fairly.
Caroline bowled her eight strike and told them to roll their balls and say something!
More cheers.
Caroline waited for a response. When no one bowled she threw her ninth strike.
She spelled out: I’m waiting.
It became very quite as she entered the tenth frame.
You leave me no choice said Caroline by having the last pin standing wobble before falling over to create more emphasis.
They egged her on. Strike! Strike! They chanted.
Furiously she hurled another ball and said: If you don’t take care of me and start acting properly, I’m going to plunge the knife under my pillow into your heart when you’re asleep.
People applauded vivaciously.
A realization swept over Harland that not even he had bowled a perfect game. He looked sullen and depressed.
Just for good measure, Caroline threw another strike.
Mockingly, she said; See! Even your friends think you’re a jerk.
She had bowled a 300 game. Balloons floated down from the ceiling and she was handed a fruit basket.
Seeing her prize, she reconsidered her comment about what’s she’d do to Harland when he slept.
At home, Caroline unwrapped the fruit basket and indulged herself, then knocked over a few dominos as she stared at Harland.
Were champagne and strawberries too much to ask for?

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