Bowling a Perfect Game

You’re on the verge of bowling a perfect game (getting a strike in every frame). It all comes down to your final throw, which needs to be a strike to pull off the feat. There is a bit of an issue though–you are very superstitious and believe that you need to replicate everything you did before each ball was thrown. The problem is you’ve added so many things over the course of the previous 11 throws, that it’s tough to keep track. Write the epic conclusion to your final throw and what happens.

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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62 thoughts on “Bowling a Perfect Game

  1. dallos_

    I looked up at the screen with my name emblazoned on it. The screen blinks in and out.
    I wait, as I have all eleven rounds before, until just after it goes black and comes back into focus.
    I close my eyes as I walk toward the ball chute, making sure I trip over my feet as I began doing on my second round. I will have an intense bruise on one shin tomorrow morning, but for right now, I barely feel it.
    I wipe my hands three times on my pants. Twice down, once up.
    I pick the same blue, number nine ball I’ve been using all night, and put it down again, to tie my shoelaces – which were not untied.
    I hear the frustrated sighs of those behind me, but I tune them out, knowing that all of this has to happen in order for the bowling gods to look favourably upon me.
    But then. Then I can’t remember what comes next! I’m at a total blank as to whether I’m meant to wipe my hands three of four times before picking up the ball. And then, do you do a 360 circle, or a 720 circle?
    I bite my lip, frozen in place.
    My competition starts yelling at me to bowl, so with tears in my eyes I line up my shot. It all feels so wrong, I haven’t done everything I was supposed to, and it is now too late to go back.
    I wind up and let go. The shot goes poorly. I let go of the ball too late and it thuds, sending shockwaves I feel go through my body.
    The ball meanders toward the pins, and then, in a manner only to be explained by the bowling gods, it seems to pick up speed and zoom toward the centre of the pins.
    A STRIKE!
    I fall on my knees in shock and hear someone say ‘You’re welcome.’
    The gods looked favourably on me this day.

  2. Steph

    MY LUCKY NIGHT

    The crowds gathered as my buddy, Joe, and I teetered on the edge of perfect games. Separate lanes, and head to head, we were both down to our last ball. Joe and I had never bowled a 200 game before, let alone a perfect one. I told Joe I needed to repeat everything from my last 11 balls if I expected to pull this off.
    I ran to the bar and grabbed a few beers. Then, it began.
    Chugged the first beer. First frame.
    Sat down to remove something sharp from my foot, taking a moment to sniff my sock. Second frame.
    Chugged another beer. Third frame.
    Crammed my hand down the back of my pants to aggressively claw at a bite. Fourth frame.
    Ran to the bathroom, and scratched my bite all the way back to the lane. Fifth frame.
    Retold the story of my son finally wiping himself. 6th frame.
    Ran towards the front desk to fetch a rag, tripped up the steps, and caught myself on a vacant chair. Though a large bearded man now occupied it, obivously displeased with my body splayed across his lap. Seventh frame.
    Retold the vivid story of my pregnant wife’s pervasive gas while sleeping. 8th frame.
    I drank half my beer before I grabbed some napkins from a nearby table, and blew my nose. The trumpet sound emanating from my nostrils sounded like the signal of the second coming. It caught Joe’s attention and I reminded him of my allergy to smoke. 9th frame.
    Drank down the last half of my beer and went to the bathroom. 10th frame, first ball.
    Before my 11th ball, Joe and I watched a large dude wobble gracelessly forward to throw his ball. He bowled 3 feet back from the foul line, and I imitated him. This man was now watching from the crowd. My rude imitation of this man had been cut short when I bowled my 11th ball. As I bowled, a sneeze blasted from within me, sending my ball crashing into the pins.
    “Joe, man. I don’t have to sneeze!”
    “Just fake it,” he says.
    I imitated the dude, knowing I’m going to get beat up in the parking lot for it. I stop 3 feet from the foul line, swing my arm backwards, work up an enormous fake sneeze, and send my ball rocketing forward at light speed. I couldn’t watch.
    I heard the promising explosion of contact, and everyone erupted into… wait…. laughter? I open my eyes and my lane comes into focus. All my pins are standing, and my gaze travels to the right. Joes pins are down. My sneeze sent my ball into the next lane!
    The bowling alley offers $150 to anyone who bowls a perfect game, and Joe walked out $150 richer. I didn’t get beat up in the parking lot though, so I suppose it was still my lucky night.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      I liked this a lot, Steph, especially his scratching his butt and the wipe line finished it nicely.The whole story was a gas
      If he repeated all the beer drinking I imagine he was in a small.coma. The last sentence was a perfect ending Well at least I’m not going to get beat up in the parking lot Classic comedy retro even, nice!

      1. Steph

        Thank you! I wasn’t fond of it myself, but I think I’m my own worst critic. With the number of college papers and projects due this week, there was no time to sit down and improve it. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  3. JosephFazzone

    Pre-game warm up. Pick up ball and wipe it down. That’s the first step, and the essential one. Put the ball back down, and take a breath.

    “The pressure is on! Gamaz needs a strike to beat Hoffman. Hoffman, bowled a nearly perfect game with a 299, and now Gamaz is up.” The announcer was saying.

    Gather myself, and approach the lane. First frame was the salute, then second frame I did the slow bow, and then on the third I spotted that hot girl in the greenish sweater.

    Where is she? I don’t see her. My mind is in a panic. Some old man in the way. He’s getting himself a ball, get the ball already old man! Okay he moved. There she is. Stunning. Did I give her a grin, or smirk? Wait, did I wink? Wink, wink, oh man, was it a smirk or a wink?

    I freeze in uncertainty. Wink or smirk, wink, or smirk? It was a wink, of course it was a wink, who smirks at a hot girl? I wink. She smiles shyly, nice! The fourth was a nice loud “Huah!”

    “Huah!”

    Those ex-military guys in the back love that, and they answer back with a resounding, “HUAH!”

    On five I did something different. I normally do the little toe touches on the wood, and then I clear my throat, but I remember on five, I had that tickle in the back of my throat, so I coughed, and then did the toe touch.

    I remembered each step, can’t miss one to keep the streak alive. Five, cough, six, toe touch, and now we go to seven. Classic shimmy. I love the shimmy, it means I’m at seven. I put a little extra wiggle on the wiggle.

    “There’s that trademark Gamaz move.” The announcer announces.
    I rotate the ball once, eight, and then twice, nine, around my body. I always thought of Gilbert Arenas and the way he lined up for free throws.

    Ten, on ten I do the moonwalk. Catches the audience by surprise every time.
    “Okay this is just superfluous,” the announcer complained.

    On the second frame in the tenth, was the cool twirl, and then one more move, for the last frame. I paused. To recap, I did the salute, slow bow, wink, Huah, cough, toe touch, shimmy, rotate ball once, twice, moonwalk, twirl, and what to do?

    I stopped. I had to, suddenly I was overwhelmed that all this superstition was a waste of time. What am I doing with my life? I am a bowler. An amateur bowler, trying to go pro. Is this what I want?

    “Wait a minute, folks,” the announcer said. “What’s he doing? It appears Gamaz has stopped.”

    My life flashed before my eyes. I saw every choice, every wrong decision, every bout with doubt, every time I hesitated in making the bold choice. I good have stayed an arborist, or been an ice cream vendor. I could have been a…monk.

    A monk? It suddenly sounded so right. I would walk the Earth and fight crimes in small towns, right the wrongs, and then walk into the sunset and be incinerated.

    I heard someone clearing their throat loudly. I turned and saw everyone staring at me in anticipation. I didn’t know what else to do. I shrugged.

    “Throw the ball idiot!” Someone yelled.

    I was on automatic, so stunned from being shook from my daydreaming that I turned, and fired the ball down the lane.

    What happened next?

    Let’s just say that I’m learning martial arts, and I’ve already shaved my head.

    1. Rene Paul

      Ok. This story is all over the place. A real page turner – make that a paragraph to paragraph turner – I kept reading, it was holding me like a cheap novel. I loved it! You had me at, ‘I spotted that hot girl in the greenish sweater.’ your MC will be the new Kwai Chang Caine. (I’m dating myself)

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Whoa boy, did you snap a photo of Miss Hot while you were at it? No? Oh what fools we make of ourselves but you the narrator are certainly no fool.You took a silly prompt and aced it. I also was caught with the girl in the greenish sweater,

  4. RafTriesToWrite

    I’ve never seen an actual bowling alley before, only in movies, but still I’ve never watched an actual bowling game before nor do I know its rules. So here’s what I got.


    “What’s he doing?” Manny, the bowling alley owner for 26 days, asked Barton who’s watching a man wearing a hoodie play his tenth strike in the row, in a very interesting but weird way.

    “Dunno Manny, but he’s real damn good at it.” Barton’s been watching this man play ever since he got his fifth strike in a row. But that’s not the reason why Barton’s been watching him in the first place. It was a slow night – Tuesday. It’s only the three of them there.

    Barton’s always here at Manny’s bowling alley on Tuesday and Thursday nights from the first night it opened. He’s been a regular ever since his wife always babysits their little girl on Tuesdays and Thursdays. He says this is his getaway place where he thinks of nothing but the pins and his bowling ball and how he can score at least one strike in one game. Plus he loves bowling.

    “Does he always do that?” Manny asked quite confused. They both saw the man touching his toes, taking a bow, head bang his head then throws the orange colored bowling ball, all without a hair and the hoodie out of place. Manny doesn’t own any colored bowling balls.

    Must be his, Manny thought.

    “Like a robot. Kinda creepy if you ask me.” Barton exclaimed, swaying his head in disapproval, yet still somehow amazed as to how the man keeps getting strikes for the ninth row now.

    “Never seen him before ‘round here” Manny spoke, feeling a little bit uneasy. The air felt cold tonight, even though the A.C. wasn’t turned down that low. He peeked over at his desk just to see if his shotgun was still there. Still there, Manny thought to himself.

    “Me neither.” Barton replied, still thinking if he knew the man or not.

    Neither of the two knew the man sadly, nor can they see his face, even Barton who’s been watching the man bowl since the fifth strike.

    The mystery man threw his ball and gets another strike for the tenth time in a row now, fist pumping the air as the knocked out pins get replaced by a new batch, they could actually hear his deep groggy “Yes” from where they stood, 17.5 yards away from the man.

    The two watched the mysterious man make his throw again for the eleventh time now. They watched him carefully.

    He makes one jumping jack, a moon walk to the left, moves a little bit back, a high kick with no sweat, he swayed his hips, makes one step forward, touches his privates, it looked kinda awkward, he touched his toes like they’ve seen before, took another bow, man what a bore, Manny thought, then saw the man head bang another time, then does a back flip and makes his throw.

    Another strike! Manny was confused even more.

    How could he have gotten another one? Was he using some kind of black magic? He thought. He’d never seen anyone play like that before. Both the game play of 10 strikes in a row as well as the ritual that goes with it before the man makes his throw.

    Manny started to walk towards the man, eagerness written all over his face. Determined to know all this man’s secrets, or was it just some kind of a hoax?

    “Hey Manny, where are you going?” Barton followed Manny. The mystery man never looked friendly enough to have a chat with in the first place, Barton was worried.

    “I’m gonna have a little talk with this loon.” Manny spoke, strutting his way towards the unknown person with Barton hot on Manny’s trail.

    Manny wanted to confront the man, no fear was seen in his eyes. He felt like he’s the top dog just because he owns the place.

    “Hey buddy” Called out Manny as he got closer to him. The man was about to get ready with his ritual, as if Manny’s call had no effect.

    Well that’s rude, Manny thought.

    As he was about to grab the hooded man from the shoulder the speakers started to blare incoherent singing. It wasn’t music, nor was it punk rock, it was purely random and rather horrifying as Barton thought.

    Manny and Barton both stopped and looked up at the ceiling, wondering where the blaring sound was coming from. As the two were about to turn their attention back to the unknown person, all the lights began to flicker like how strobe lights behave in clubs, but this was more frequent and violent, then they both heard a bowling ball drop.

    The sound was so close that the two concluded it came from the man that was in front of them. After the lights show, the place went dark.

    A moment of silence later, the lights were back on, behaving as if nothing happened a while ago.

    The man was gone! The two thought. The only way out was the door located 28.8 yards behind them. How could the man slip past by the two without them noticing?

    Only the black bowling ball leaving as evidence was embedded on the newly furbished wooden bowling alley floor, like it had been thrown down there on purpose. The freaky part is that, as Manny put it, there was no trace of the orange bowling ball they previously saw that the man was using to bowl.

    They never saw the man ever again.

    1. Rene Paul

      Is the MC the ghost of Michael Jackson? ‘He makes one jumping jack, a moon walk to the left, moves a little bit back, a high kick with no sweat, he swayed his hips, makes one step forward, touches his privates, it looked kinda awkward,’ This sentence goes on and is very long, I think the second half distracts from the first, perhaps a rewrite would clarify. I think it odd that Manny thought it boring! I do like the premise of the story. However editing out some of the words from a number of the sentences might make for a better read. Sorry, trying to help. Hope you you understand. I always appreciate critiques on my submissions, it’s what makes us better writers. I wouldn’t comment if I didn’t care. I do look forward to your next story.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        This could be a great story with a little bit of work. It is okay to leave the reader with questions but when the light came on, how would it be if the tenth pin continued to sway back and forth and then settle like a pin tease so to speak. You can have the bowler disappear but suppose he left a glove behind as a clue or something else to stir the reader’s mind.

        1. RafTriesToWrite

          I agree Kerry, it needs more work. Kind of been feeling lazy these past few days if I’m being honest.

          Maybe I could’ve added the pin tease at the end when the mystery bowler disappeared out of thin air. Thank you for your candor. Much appreciated!

          -Raf

      2. RafTriesToWrite

        I have to admit, I did forget to separate that long sentence there.

        Don’t be sorry Rene, I greatly appreciate constructive criticism more than the regular praise I get. I get that this story needs more work, thank you very much for your input. I’ll take note of it the next time I write. Looking forward for more of your very helpful tips. Thanks again!

        -Raf

  5. ShamelessHack

    It isn’t a question of the perfect game.
    It’s about the embarrassment of me not pulling this off in front of my friends, my buddies. And the faith they have in me.
    They’re all there grouped around the cola machine and at the rail, watching, anticipating. My everyday pals in the league: John, Bill, Hank, Barney, Jake…how can I let them down? Everything is riding on this.
    What brought me to this almost perfect game? Well, this morning my wife gave me her usual good luck kiss and my daughter gave me a big toddler hug. That certainly helped.
    At work, the guys kept slapping me on the back, encouraging me, giving me the high five. “We know you won’t let us down.” I was hearing that all day.
    And here at the alley I’ve been golden. The ball has been bouncing in crazy arcs, but always demolishing the pins at the final moment. Even the pin bird has been impressed, winking at me as he set them up over and over.
    And now it’s the final frame. A hush falls over the alley as all eyes are on me. Even my boss Mr. Slate, is here. I rub my lucky saber tooth tiger claw, get up on my toes, and in a graceful show of bowling ballet let the ball fly.
    It careens to the left. I hear one of my pals yell, “Oh no!
    It changes course and bounces completely into the next lane. My friends are yelling in horror. Dino charges after the ball and kicks it back into my lane. “Atta boy,” I yell to my loyal pet.
    The ball zigzags toward the pins. It’s slowing down but it’s almost there. “C’mon, Fred!” It’s Barney. I smile inside because the shot’s gone exactly as planned.
    The ball taps the number one pin and comes to a stop. The pin wobbles and finally teeters over, causing a chain reaction. They all go down in a loud clatter and a cloud of dust. Strike!
    The place goes wild. Wilma grabs Pebbles and runs toward me, and I’m on top of the world.
    Later on I treat everyone to Bronto ribs at Kentucky Fried T-Rex.
    It’s a great ending to a great day.
    Yaba daba doo!

    1. Rene Paul

      Nice take on the prompt. My favorite line: ‘I rub my lucky saber tooth tiger claw, get up on my toes, and in a graceful show of bowling ballet let the ball fly.’

    2. JosephFazzone

      “Yabariffic!” – Cenozoic Chronicles- “The man’s skills should never be taken for Granite!” – Slate Daily News “Another shameless hack, by Shameless Hack!” – Jurassic Journal “I’ve got rocks in my pants!” Dinosaur Digest!

  6. JRSimmang

    11 FRAMES

    You seen “The Big Lebowski?” It’s this cult classic. Beautiful. There’s this scene where Lebowski, “The Dude”, has this tripped out dream after drinking a drugged White Russian. He’s a big bowler, so his fantasy is -get this- hugging a blonde bombshell close as he works the bowling ball in her hand, releases it, then -and this is the best part- he turns into the ball, rolling, no flying, no hovering down the lane, ladies standing above him while he gazes up and into infinity.

    He wakes up with this extreme hangover. Glasses. Bath robe. The works.

    It’s my partner’s favorite movie. I could hear it over the din of our poker game.

    “So lemme get this straight, Cal. You’re implicating that our man Reg here take the fall for us whilst we get our happy a**es down the way to Mexico.”

    “Yeah,” I admitted. “But it ain’t like that. You see, we let the cops think they got Reg, when, in actuality, we’re the cops. I, Walt, am going to be the cop that picks Reg up.” I reached into my duffel, and pulled out the sleeve of the cop shirt. “See? My cousin’s a cop.”

    The plan was simple. We’d enter together. Walt would cause the distraction. Reg would take down the Dali, run, and I’d intercept him, wearing my cop uniform, at the rear exit with the fake that I’d already stashed. This wasn’t the Louvre. It wasn’t the Smithsonian. It was a special exhibit. In San Antonio.

    “So, when do we begin?” asked Reg.

    “Oh, and the moron decides to speak!”

    We always slept on the floor the night before. It was an old tradition. I always tucked my hands into the socks I would wear during the heist. Walt would always lay out his sleeping bag opposite mine on my right. Our third would be on my left. Reg was our 12th.

    “Hey, Cal?”

    “Yeah, Walt?”

    “You remember our first?”

    It’d been a long time since I’d had a chance to remember. We were young. Walt and I started throwing the frames away after we realized the paintings could easily be rolled up and shoved into a pant leg, the lining of our jackets, or, if small enough, under our hats. We shook beforehand, our special shake, and that’s stuck with us all through each little heist, and we always have a celebratory “ball” before we sell the paintings off.

    That first time, though, was a wreck. Novice. Childish. Our third was a nincompoop named Donny. Walt thought that would have been hilarious. He’d whisper under his breath “Shut. Up. Donny!” then laugh about it. We went in, the three of us, into the Kimball. Rookie mistake. Walt cut left. I cut right. Donny stood there, goofy smile on his face. We didn’t make three steps in before the alarms were called. Donny, for some God-stupid reason, brought a gun. A freakin’ gun! Moron.

    Since then, the handshake and the arrest has been a part of our deal.

    “I do.”

    “Think this’ll be our last?” he half-chuckled.

    “Nope,” I answered honestly.

    “What’re y’all talkin’ about?” asked Reg.

    I took that as a sign to roll over and fall asleep.

    Ham and eggs for breakfast. Not bacon. We tried bacon. Nearly got our a**es fried. We ate ham and eggs. No coffee.

    The car drive was silent. Always silent. Reg wanted to plug in his earbuds. Our third tried that too. Got him wholloped. Got me a broken toe.

    We parked in the fourth spot from the front in the first row of cars from the entrance. Don’t ask me how we got that one down. I left first. Then Walt. Then the third. The doors were the sliding, electronically guided ones, the ones that opened automatically. I had one of two routes now, and it all boiled down to where the painting was kept.

    “Excuse me, miss?” Walt walked over to the front desk. “We’d like admission to the Dali exhibit.” He slid a $50 to her, she smiled, pulled three stickers, then pointed us along to the right. Great. The right.

    I feigned a limp. Reg coughed three times. Walt gave an exuberant whoop. That was the distraction. With that, he ran in the opposite direction as us, skipping and shouting, and carrying on like a rabid dog. Security was distracted. I walked quickly to the exit. Reg went to the painting.

    What happened next, I only know on my end. Reg got the painting. He got it to me. And I, well, I didn’t want to push my luck. So, I left. We finally got it right. You see, Walt and I would be off to Mexico. But, Reg? He’d have to be arrested. The only way we’d get it all right. Ain’t no sense in throwing a ball quite yet.

    You see, you always need to have three fingers in.

    -JR Simmang

    1. Rene Paul

      Wow! What a take on the prompt. The Big Lebowski is the best bowling movie ever and an excellent first paragraph in your story. Well thought out. Well written. Interesting.

  7. ryansmoot

    He was a husband, a grandfather, a retired-accountant, but perhaps most of all, a man of habit. Every Tuesday morning for the past 45 years, Gregory would arrive five minutes before the doors of his local bowling alley were unlocked — precisely enough time to eat a small English muffin, lace his bowling shoes, take 2 gentle sips from his coffee, and unearth his lucky cane from the backseat.

    He entered the alley, his walking cane acting as his sole pillar of support. The elderly man nodded toward the teenager manning the cash register, who smiled in acknowledgment. Gregory was the sort of quiet regular, every employee could recognize his face, yet no one knew his name.

    For a man who had endured two wars, and three equally brutal colonoscopies, Lane 14 was Gregory’s safe haven. Gripping his cane, he took seven small steps, cocked the bowling ball behind his back, and swung his arm forward in a calculated, but fluid measure. His right hand softly guided the ball to the floor of the lane, his left hand gripping the cane even tighter.

    Strike.

    There was a period in his life when Tuesday mornings were spent chatting with his wife, Martha, in a modest house with the unmistakable aroma of bacon. Martha filled him with such happiness and strength, that purchasing a cane was never needed, much less even considered. And then came Martha’s diagnosis..

    Strike. His 11th now.

    Gregory had gone 20 years since his last perfect game, a moment that had hundreds of excitedly rambunctious onlookers, including the only one that mattered — Martha. The game was still incredibly vivid in his mind, and he could recall every slight detail, including his final 12th strike on Lane 14.

    Decades later, in a desolate bowling alley at 10am, Gregory mimicked every movement of that glorious final strike. He strode toward the lane, glanced at the seat Martha once occupied, and then narrowed his vision on the ten pins. He coughed twice into his bare left hand, tilted his head slightly to the right, and took three steps before releasing the ball — just as he did in 1997.

    The ball seemed destined for the gutters, and Gregory’s shoulders drooped, his left hand combing his grey hair in disappointment. However, in miraculous fashion, the ball spiraled just enough to chip one pin — and the rest followed suit.

    Strike.

    A nostalgic smile spread across Gregory’s face as he exited the building, waving goodbye to the cashier, who was too transfixed with his phone to notice.

    Behind him, a 300 flashed on the screen of Lane 14, an animation playing on the television. His cane lay on the ground, no longer needed.

    The subsequent Tuesday, the cashier unlocked the doors of the alley, expecting to see the worn, weary face of the old man.

    He never came.

  8. Kerry Charlton

    LUC

    .

    Reginald Ponderplush’s brow was covered in cold sweat despite the fires of hell that encircled the bowling alley. It leaned in favor toward the Arena at ancient Rome only the lions were gone and in the bleachers, Lucifer sat. To his right was Adolph Hitler and on his left was Benito Mussolini, in all his ugliness. Rows of demons sat behind the three waiting for the final twelfth ball to be thrown by Reginald.

    Thirty years previous, Reginald had sold his soul to the devil in order to become the greatest bowler in the world. His power had been taken back and the only reason there had been eleven perfect strikes was a tease from the devil himself.

    ‘How could I have done this to myself, I’ll never know, ’ mused Reggie. After the eleventh throw his right arm has become useless and hung swinging nowhere. So the last throw would be left handed. Unknown to the devil, was the fact that Reggie had always bowled left handed when he played with his children. Even with his know all, he never broke 180 at his best.

    The devil cackled and Hitler saluted Reggie. What they received back was the universal hand sign of repute. Reggie‘s family sat to his left chained to a bench. If he missed the perfect game, his family would burn with him. What hurt the most was his eleven grandkids were also there. He put the ball down and propositioned the devil,

    “I‘ll throw a gutter ball if you release my family.”

    “I wouldn’t miss seeing your grandkids burn and scream so I’ll take my chances like any other man.”

    “You are a scum bucket Lucifer.”

    “No one knows better than I, I’m proud of it.”

    “Let me ask you a question Luc.”

    “No one, not even you can address me that way.”

    “Sore about Luc.? Did your bearded mommy call you that?”

    Lucifer recomposed himself, he didn’t realize the old pain could still bother him, after all, he had his revenge on her.

    “Get back you coward, throw the ball and watch you family burn before you do.”

    Reggie picked the ball up, and noticed the second and third finger were missing on his left hand. His two fingers that were left, barely managed to hold the ball. An unearthly cackle again from the devil.

    “Try it and burn you worthless piece of junk.”

    “ God help me please,” whispered Reggie as he released the ball and heard it drop awkwardly and slowly wobble toward the pins. He held his breath as the ball hit the sweet spot of the pins Seven pins went down, the eighth leaned into the ninth and they went down. The tenth pin swayed back and forth and just before it stopped a fierce thunder bolt split the sky and vaporized Hitler sitting next to the devil. The shock wave rolled across the floor, picked the wavering pin up and returned it at high speed and it smashed into Lucifer‘s jaw bone. Reggie heard the bone crack with the force.
    “Bow to me fallen angel and then disappear.” The words rang with power and Lucifer bowed his best, rose from his seat and started to leave. He turned toward Reggie,

    “This isn‘t over yet,” he announced.

    “You want another bet on that Luc.?”. .

  9. rlk67

    By the seventh frame, word spread down the alleys that something was going on. I hate attention, but they know where I live.

    Pockets of patrons from all sides of the building migrated toward the lane where yours truly, big Ed, had been killing some pins. Perhaps they would see a once in a lifetime event. Perhaps I would faint.

    Concentration was key. Between frames, I had easily rehearsed the order: First, rub hair against ball. Always worked for dad, except when he did it too hard. Second, must loosen shoulders a number of times depending which number throw it is. Then touch PBA patches on knees with right hand while pointing ends of bowling shoes in and out twice. Uncle Ben swore to it, so by the fourth, it was added to the repertoire. Then everything above was repeated.

    Phase two: staring intently at those pins. Say your prayers, guys. Next: listen to the emotion of the ball. What was it saying to me? It beckons me to be one with it. Aunt Trinity had taught me well. And finally, I added to briefly woo the ball with pleasant words. Yes, it took time, but in hindsight, it was well worth it. Then came strike eleven.

    As the ball returned, I glanced at the board, and the full force of the situation me like a vengeful ten-pin. Oh, wow.

    I glanced at the large crowd which overflowed into the snack area. Were they murmuring and giggling? Had they noticed what I was doing before I threw the ball? Oh, boy. And now they were…staring. At me. Oh, my.
    My teammate put his hand on my shoulder. “All will be good,” he said in a pastor’s voice. I nodded.

    I still heard giggling from individuals in the crowd, with others trying to shush them. Concentration is key. I just needed to add one more thing…the sniff. Cousin Travis always sniffed the ball before…well, that was baseball. Couldn’t hurt.

    I took the ball, and…froze. My mind went blank. Totally. I knew there were things to do, but my brain refused to waken from its self-induced coma. Now what?

    The crowd was becoming impatient. The murmuring was like thunder. Maybe fainting wasn’t such a bad option.
    Then I heard it. The restless people were chanting something. “Heeeaaaad. Heeeaaaad!” More giggling.
    Head? Oh, rubbing my hair! Oh, bless them, they did notice. But…

    “Shooouuuulders….!” I was stunned. I rounded my shoulders twelve times.
    More giggling. “Kneeeees!” Oh. I touched my patches. This was surreal.
    “And toooooes…” I felt almost hypnotized. Point those toes, guy.
    Wait…I could do this. I repeated the last routine to the melodic undertone of the crowd. More giggling.
    Then the brain froze again. What’s with this?

    “Eyyyyyyyes….!” Hmmm? Oh! Staring! I turned and bored holes with my vision.
    “Eeeeaaars!” I stood stiff like a loyal soldier. I lifted the ball to my ear, and heard the rhythm. It was rockin’.
    “Moooouuuuuth!” Yes. I babbled to the beautiful orange orb. But I still had one more thing to do.
    “Nooooossseeeee!” The sniff! Wait. How did they know?
    I took a huge whiff. I felt whole. I felt ready. I slowly walked toward the line, reached back, and….

    Could it be? The giggling turned to shouts….Then cheers! BAM! YES! YES!
    My teammates lifted me on their shoulders, and the place went wild!
    And as I shyly basked in the glory of my history, I glanced at the crowd. Everyone, including the snack guy and lane cleaners, were jumping and waving, and were all united in song!

    “HEAD, SHOULDERS, KNEES AND TOES, KNEES AND TOES, HEY!…”

  10. Rene Paul

    The striped hardwood lane fills my vision and holds my attention. I’ve rolled a first strike in the tenth frame; one down, two to go. Ten of the twelve consecutive strikes needed for a perfect game, completed.

    I don’t break concentration.

    Without looking, I grab my hand towel from the return rack and spin the ball in it, removing any unwanted lane oil. I set my left foot behind the rear floor marks and set my eyes on the second lane arrow from the right. I drop my shoulders and exhale. I take a short first step, followed by two more, my right arm swings up – a bow readied to fire – my left leg slides toward the foul line, the ball launches towards the intended target.

    Another strike, another fist pump. I step backward toward the ball return machine. If the onlookers are cheering, I’m not aware, the intensity of the zone I’m in has blocked out all distractions.

    One more strike. I reach for my towel, it’s not there.

    Where’s my towel? My focus falters; I fall out of the zone. Now I’m aware of a large crowd clapping and cheering. People are yelling my name, people I don’t recognize. The bowlers from the other lanes have stopped their games and come to witness the show now playing on lane #39.

    My teammate, John, says, “It fell, so I picked it up and set it on the bench, over there.” My head turns and locates the towel, I reach for it and nod my appreciation.

    My only thought, ‘I’m out of sync.’

    I’m the anchor bowler for the Lucky Strikes, a work league team I’ve bowled with for five years. The three-game match against the Alley Cats isn’t in doubt, our team score settled that before I started the final frame, but I have a chance at bowling greatness. Well, at least greatness at work. Might even get a few Johnnie Walker, Black Label, drinks afterward in the 11th Frame bar, compliments of the house and my mates.

    Focus!

    I step up to the ball rack, cover my ball with the towel and left the ball chest high, I dig my middle two fingertips into their respective holes and stretch my hand back and slide my thumb halfway into its own hole.

    I take a deep breath. I can hear the crowd chanting, “One more strike, one more strike.”

    Nervousness creeps in, a slight tremble invades my hands, a weight infringes on my legs.

    My eyes close as I visualize the approach, picture the release and see the ten pins blown apart and falling in silence.

    I calm myself, taking deep breaths. My eyes open. I set my feet and without hesitation start toward the line. The ball rolls straight over the target mark, curves into the pocket, impact explodes the pins. They scatter as if hit by a wrecking ball, every single pin falls… except one. The 10 pin staggers like a drunk sailor, tipping back and forth, a spinning top in slow motion.

    I fall to my knees and watch. The pin…

      1. Rene Paul

        Thanks for you comment. I used to bowl in a Board of Realtor league and a work league for about seven years so it was fun to write. I had eight in a row once, it turned out to be my high game.

    1. Pete

      The pin…the pin!!! What happens next! It was all about the details in this one, the oil on the ball, the team names, the motions of bowling. Great job, but I need to know about this pin…

      1. Rene Paul

        My original ending had him bowing his head with eyes closed, the crowd gasping then cheering. Another fist pump…but that’s not me. The ending is what you make it! Thanks for reading and commenting. Appreciated.

  11. Pete

    A bowling league. The way Carla saw it, getting ripped on Tuesday night in the guise of a “league” was just another way of calling her a fancy shade of stupid. And Carla wasn’t stupid. She was tired.

    For one, she worked all the damn time. Plus, who do you think got up and made sure the twins were ready for school? Then ready to drop everything when the school called because another substitute teacher had fled the classroom crying while muttering The Lord’s Prayer.

    Meanwhile Randy did nothing. That wasn’t true, he was a wizard on the Xbox, with a fancy headset he kept “hidden” in the living room closet above all the vacuum filters. Carla was getting wise to her husband’s tricks.

    So when Randy asked her to come down to the bowling alley with him, the same as he did all the time, Carla had some tricks of her own. She brushed her hair back and said, “Sure honey, I’ll come down and watch you bowl.”

    “Okay, well I should be home around—Wait, huh?”

    “I said sure.”

    “Oh, well, uh, what about the Donnie and Dale?”

    “Deb will stay here tonight. Had to pay her extra thought, ever since they put a wad of gum in her hair, she’s been a little skittish.”

    “Oh.”

    Randy’s lopsided smile was nearly deranged as they drove down. They walked in to the clatter of pins hitting the floor.

    The rest of the guys, Burt, Dan, Bo, and one other guy Carla couldn’t name but would bet a twin he lived with his mother, all lowered their beers and gawked. Geez, Carla thought, he’s never even mentioned me. With that she put an extra wiggle in her hips.

    It was almost cute how Randy stumbled through introductions. The place was packed and loud, and Carla was stifling a yawn before the boys got into their game. She watched as Randy poured a cup of beer, met her eyes and gave her a shaky smile, took a sip.

    Carla was about to study her phone when Randy wound up and knocked down every last pin. The boys pat him on the back. Dan motioned back to Carla. “Must’ve brought your good luck charm.”

    Randy grinned. “Reckon I did.”

    Luck would be finding a job, Carla thought, stifling a yawn. But then Randy nailed three strikes in a row. And Carla couldn’t help giggling when the boys gobbled like turkeys. She poured a beer and sang along with Bon Jovi. Her phone buzzed. It was Deb, reminding her she’d given birth to not one, but two demons.

    Randy came back to the beer. He gripped his neck. Each time he looked at Carla and shrugged. Each time she giggled. Each time he knocked down every pin.

    A crowd gathered around lane eight. Deb called to say she doesn’t negotiate with terrorists. Carla had better get her butt home and save her from these big head boys. The pins clacked.

    On it went. Randy and his strikes, his smile and shrug reminding Carla of the night he picked her up on the day after graduation. How he smiled at her and she couldn’t get enough of his big ideas and hopeful eyes. Strike.

    At the tenth frame, Carla was up and shouting. The bowling alley killed the music. Whispers of a perfect game could be heard amongst the smokers outside. But Randy set the ball down. Carla looked around. The team threw up their hands. He was about to set the league record.

    Randy took Carla’s hand. His palm was cold and damp.

    Carla’s heart banged away. “What are you doing, baby?”

    He shook his head. “I’m sorry.”

    “What?”

    “I am.” He looked around. Pinched his nose. The guys moaned. Randy waved off his teammates, his eyes glossy and hopeful. “You know what, let’s go.”

    Carla couldn’t help her smile. “What do you mean? You’re doing a turkey thing.”

    He stifled a laugh. “I don’t care. I’m a great bowler. So what.”

    Carla was not about to cry in a bowling alley. Randy wiped his neck. “Dan’s got a position open.”

    “Really?”

    He nodded. Carla thought he was awfully cute when he wanted to be.

    It was 10:38. Carla had to be at work at six am. The music was back on and thumped over the speakers. Lane eight was in disarray. The team huddled over the last of the beer. She wrapped her arms around Randy’s neck and felt her smile widen to a place it hadn’t been in years. “You could be a professional Xbox gamer.”

    Randy fixed his hat, his eyes fell to his ridiculous shoes. “Carla, I’m trying to have a moment here.”

    Lane Eight beckoned. “Randy. Bowl!”

    Randy kissed his wife. The bowling alley hooted and jeered. Carla kissed him in a way that said she might be awfully tired at work tomorrow, then pushed Randy away. Her phone danced as it buzzed around on the table. Randy nodded at the phone. “The twins?”

    Carla laughed, “They’re fine. Go.”

    Randy fixed his hat, took his ball, stepped up and sent it careening down the aisle. He hit three pins.

    Lane eight fell to its knees. A collection of groans. So close to 300.

    Randy laughed. He kicked off his shoes as the guys consoled him. He glanced back at Carla and shrugged. They got their things and turned for the door before the ball returned to the lane.

    It was a perfect game.

  12. writer_sk

    The ceiling fan was moving hot air around as Stacey rolled onto her back in the booth with the pink upholstery Mama had chosen when her father bought and remodeled the bowling alley in 1985. She pulled herself up by holding the table’s edge and it tilted just enough to send the glass salt and pepper shakers sliding towards her. Stopping them with her arm, she sat straight now and glanced towards her best friend, Evan, who was still bowling. She couldn’t make out the screen from where she sat but she assumed he was still bowling for his record. She was Evan’s good luck charm and the bowling league had become more than a way of getting away from the family automotive business where he worked. It had become really important to him.

    Stacey grabbed herself a beer from behind the bar and put three dollars in the till. Sipping, then gulping the drink, she finished a quarter of the pint glass off and sat down on the barstool. She watched Evan. She would do anything for him.

    “How long do you have to stay here, honey?” her friend, Whitney, smiled, motioning for Stacey to come out back with her. The door swung behind them and the smell of azaleas briefly encompassed Stacey before the dumpster’s odor took over. Whitney hoisted the trash bag into the dumpster, letting it fall as she took a pack of cigarettes out of her hip pocket offering Stacey one and lighting it. They smoked in silence. Stacey’s phone buzzed, Evan was done for the night. They headed in. He put his arm around her neck like he always did and kissed her cheek.

    “I lost my streak, Sissy,” he smiled.

    His nickname for her since they were teens had always stuck. The only thing Stacey didn’t like about it was the implication that he considered her like a sister to him. He was the only guy in town who didn’t give a sh*t about what anyone thought of him. He was a cowboy, alright, but of his own sort. She’d dated the captain of the football team, then she’d dated a guy she met while attending the community college. Dave from Worcester, next to Boston. He was so aware of what people thought of him that he would do things just to fit in. When he bought a pick-up just cuz people in town all had them, Stacey cut him loose.

    She and Evan had always spent time together. He even took her to the prom but things never progressed to them becoming a couple. Stacey wanted to be his girlfriend and if it went well, get engaged. She had finished college and was going to nursing school while helping run the bowling alley. Now she just had to get her love life in order.

    It ate away at her, the voice that told her she couldn’t make someone love her in that way. It was a small echo but it rested in her throat and would come up at night restricting her breathing, interrupting her dreams and diminishing any hope of sleep she had. That night, when she woke up, her phone glowed 02:00 am. She texted Evan that she couldn’t sleep. She got an instant, heart-stopping reply. He wanted her to meet him at the diner. When she got there Evan was half asleep in the bed of his truck. The bottle of Jack Daniels the culprit.

    “We lost at league, Sissy.” he said, the bright Texas moonlight shining on his brow, illuminating his Elvis Presley eyes and dark hair.

    “Oh, I am so sorry, Evan.” she took a whiff then decided against taking a pull off the bottle, covering it and tucking it away into the paper bag.

    His response was his sugar sweet sideways smile.

    “I love you,” he said, reaching up and touching the curls of her hair before falling asleep. Asleep now, he repeated, pulling at her heartstrings, “I love you.”

    “I love you, too.” she said, barely above a whisper as she looked through the Chevy’s windshield ahead to the dark dirt roads, the bowling alley’s lights shutting off in the rearview mirror.

    1. RafTriesToWrite

      I’m now wondering, when Evan wakes up, will he have recollection of what he said to Stacey or not before he passed out.
      Loved the descriptions writer_sk! I can almost taste the cold whimper of the evening breeze at the diner.

      1. Rene Paul

        Reminds me of a scene from Friday Night Lights! You must be a southerner? Nice story. Sticky point to ponder… try not to use a preposition at the end of a sentence. ‘They headed in.’ Not a hard rule but you should be careful with its use. Another problem I see, ‘Dave from Worcester, next to Boston.’ Not a complete sentence. Maybe a couple of commas instead of periods would correct both of these sentences.
        Look forward to your next submission.

        1. writer_sk

          Rene, I appreciate the corrections. I need to do better proofreading. I noticed the Dave sentence but not the other problem. Glad you thought I was a southerner! I am not! Haven’t seen “Friday Night” but have always wanted to write for film or TV. Am working on SP, but it’s hard. thanks again

      2. writer_sk

        Raf! Right, I have no idea. I was going to add “like a sister” but decided against it. This is feeling like a longer piece so we may both have an answer. Thank you very much.

    2. JRSimmang

      SK, for not being a Southerner, you found the small town Texas voice. I grew up in football driven town, and this was (not mine) Friday night in the 90s. However, most diners where I grew up were closed by 9, but truck beds were 24 hour.

    3. JosephFazzone

      I really love this. It leaves this great hope that everything is going to be wonderful for the two of them. The way you wrote about Stacey was so real and believable, and she became instantly likable for me. Amazing job!

  13. Kaboosh

    “This could be your first perfect game”

    “No no no,” I reply, “this WILL be my first perfect game. I just have to remember where my feet were.”

    “Do we really have to do all of this, Ike?” asks my sister, frozen next to a table with her hand in a bowl of wings.

    “Yes, and Shawn quit squirming.”

    “But I gotta pee!” Shawn wines. However, a quick glance in his direction keeps him still.

    “Can you just bring the bucket of nachos closer to me?” begs Brandon.

    “Was the bucket of nachos closer to you when I got the first strike? No. So, no it can’t be closer to you.” I think that was everything. I took off my bowling shoes right after I threw the ball, to know exactly where I ended up throwing the ball. I grab my lucky ruby-red ball and slip my fingers into the smooth holes, which were drilled and sanded to perfection. I slide into my shoes and crack my neck in preparation. With a single thrust, I can achieve what no one else at my birthday party has. I even heard that a perfect score could get you a hundred-dollar gift card from a store of your choice. Enough dreaming, I was going to do this once and for all. I swing my arm back and-

    “WAIT.” I clench my fingers, making sure the ball doesn’t fly out of my hand, but I stumble forward and almost step over the foul line. When I turn around, my sister is in the same position, but her eyes are wide open, making it evident that she was the one that screamed. “Your shoes! They’re untied.” I look down and found she was right, how could that be? I tie my shoes in what I call “Ike’s Special” It’s just a bunny-knot tied over and over again until the laces are in a massive tight bundle that will never come loose. The only way it could come apart is if someone undid all the knots.

    “Who did it?” I look over at Shawn, but he’s still clenching his face to try and hold in his pee. To the right of him is Brandon with his entire arm in the bucket of nachos.

    “You didn’t let me have them and I was really hungry!” Brandon says with a mouth full of nacho cheese.

    My anger takes me over and I get ready to throw my bowling ball at him. I grasp the ball with both hands and step forward – slipping on my own shoelace. I fly into the air, my ball soaring out of my hands and behind me. Light bounces off the ball and into my eyes, blinding me as my head crashes to the ground. A thunderous sound splits my eardrums open, making the headache I just got much worse.The edge of my vision is foggy and it takes a few blinks to clear up my sight. My sister is above me with a nervous expression on her face.

    “You okay?” she asks, as I sit up with her help. I nod my head and it feels like my brain is being scraped against the front of my skull. “Good, because you have to tell the manager what kind of gift card you want.”

    I look at our lane to see that there are no pins left standing. My ball, the one which miraculously found it’s way into a strike, rolls out of the ball retrieval machine reminding me that this is only the beginning. I still have to decide what gift card I want.

  14. Cceynowa

    I apologize in advance to anyone who actually writes poetry. I do not. At all. Obviously. BUT the prompt rhymed a bit to me, so I ran with my inspiration.

    Madness in the Method

    First frame puts my mind in the game,
    Second and I step left, right, left.
    By the third I step three, lean back a beat,
    And on four I add a twist and a heft.

    Step three, lean it back, twist and heft to the left,
    On six I drop my hips and point my toes.
    Perfect scores, perfect game, on to the next frame.
    By now my friends are dreading my throws.

    But there is method behind this madness,
    Watch me: step, lean, twist, hips, toes, and reach—
    BAM! Another strike in your face!
    Perfection is the sermon I’ll preach.

    Obviously I’m doing something right,
    So I’d best continue it on the next four sets,
    Then I’ll be the legend on the team tonight.
    They must think so too, judging by their bets.

    Step three, lean back for a beat,
    Twist, heft, drop my hips, toes to a point,
    Reach my left arm out, and drop to my knee!
    Cheers echo off the walls of the joint.

    I’m so close to a getting it right this time,
    Every lane, every group, is chanting my name,
    And with each passing round I know
    That this time, THIS TIME, I can have the perfect game.

    On my eleventh throw I concentrate hard,
    Step three, lean back, twist and heft,
    Hips, toes, arm, knee, and fist punch the air!
    Strike again, with only one throw left.

    I approach the line, left, right, left,
    Lean back and heft, I stop, I stutter,
    I forgot to twist! My heart sinks
    When my ball lands squarely in the gutter.

    1. JRSimmang

      It’s tough to write poems about pins,
      harder still to write poems on lanes,
      confusing at best the losses and wins,
      yet no one here ever complains

      if the story is good and diction bright,
      if you struck out with a mighty stone’s throw.
      But, rest assured, friend, try as we might,
      this one’s a keeper, just so you know.

  15. pven

    Muscle memory. Keep telling yourself that it’s all just muscle memory.

    You step up to the back line, toes on the first and second right-most dots. You raise the 12 pounds of spherical devastation to the level of your eyes and stare down the enemy: ten white pins still shivering after being placed on the lane.

    Now: just take a jump to the far left side of the lane. Keep your toes on the line! That’s important.

    Then take four steps to the right.

    What did you do before that first strike? Oh! Something wasn’t right. A pin was off. While you waited, you put your hands on your hips and… your knees were in tight.

    OK.

    The real power of the approach was the pelvic thrusts. Yes, everyone’s watching, but you can’t leave that out. This ball’s gotta get its mojo somehow.

    Now for the approach that you mastered, the swing that’s unique to you, swivel those hips to add thrust to the ball and…

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