Bewildering Stories

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Holy Bowlers

by Thomas R.

This is about the night Chuck, Betty and I got religion. Well no, not exactly. I couldn’t be one of these holy bowlers if I tried. Still, it is about the night we saw a miracle. Or if it was not a miracle, it was in least pretty darn cool. So here we go.

We will start things off with Betty. She was this divorced lapsed Catholic with a couple kids and a sarcastic streak. Well I wasn’t sure on the Catholic deal, but she went to Catholic school anyway. Well, we start with her because the ball started rolling when she whispered those fateful words: “Man, how long is Father Ninepin going to prattle? I mean, I need the practice, but I’ve got to get home to the kids by supper, you know what I mean?”

Chuck “He’s no padre. They’re some kind of crazy Lutheran sect.”

I decided to gibe him. “Oh, like their beliefs are crazier than your belief in Lemuria.”

Chuck said loudly, “Hey, you explain how those lemurs got to Madagascar?!” On old church lady glared at him, so he got quieter. “At least I know bowling is no symbol of my soul’s fate.”

Betty: “Is that really what they believe? I thought he was just blathering about defeating inner demons or something.”

I smirked, “Like you care any more than I do. Now hush, I think he’s wrapping up.”

The parson then did the closing which for us tended to be the opening. “Lord we shall now put our hands at work and our minds at ease through this symbolic destruction of the sins and idols which ensnare us.”

Betty look a bit ticked, but then again she always does right before playing. It’s a psych-out thing I guess.

And then like usual we skunked them. Not that they kept score, but they knew. Which was pretty cool except they acted all weird about it. They got all maudlin about how it symbolized our resolve to defeat our vices. One of the old guys confused me by adding that it showed we may well be among the elect destined for salvation.

I asked Chuck about that once, because I thought for sure that was Calvinist stuff. He told me Luther had said something about predestination, but it was different for some reason. Chuck’s a little weird at times, but mostly he’s the smart one. After all he has got that associate degree in accounting from that group on the TV.

Then Betty nudged me “That kid with the thick glasses reading the Bible, ever seen him before?” I told her no, so she went on, “Might as well read the Bible as it’d take a miracle for him not to suck.”

So the young man threw his ball and we watched as it predictably skidded toward the gutter. Then he made this big display. Got down on his knees, and began kind of singing one of the Psalms. A part of me was kind of moved, and another part of me had to fight back laughter. That might sound disrespectful, but he had this nasal squeaky singing voice that made even some of the sincere believers crack smiles.

Then it happened. Right at like the last second the ball just veered. No warning either, just smack and all of the sudden the pins were all down. That lead to praising and shouting, when you strike them right they became the most rambunctious Lutherans you ever saw, but it didn’t end there. No, sir. This kid was like magic. At one point that night this one ball somehow went so awry it almost hit one of the toddlers, but then his own ball veered and smacked both out of the boy’s path. Missed a chance at a strike, but dang if it wasn’t fancy work.

After the ceremony was done I went to the kid. “So how did you do it?”

The kid, probably about 20 really, just smiled. “All that you saw resulted from my Lord’s teaching. On that alone do I rely.”

Chuck, Betty and me felt kind of guilty after that. I just decided to quit going then and there. Why remind myself of what a jackass I had been to a miracle worker? Betty started going back to her old Church. Turns out it wasn’t Catholic after all, but Greek Orthodox. She has to drive up all the way to K.C. for services. Her kids like it though, as they get to go to a bigger mall then the ones we have here and she lets them see their Dad more now. He treated her like dirt, but he was nice to the kids.

As for Chuck I rarely see him these days, but I think he joined the holy bowlers. He also switched from Lemuria to belief in telepathy and remote viewing. Talks about secret Chinese studies and the Bible agreeing that stuff is all real. I don’t believe it, but I don’t disbelieve it either. I mean what do I know?

As for the kid I have not seen him at all since that day. Chuck never mentions him so maybe they sent him to a bigger church or something. One thing I should add that reminded me of him: a few weeks back I saw this photo on the Nightly News that looked like him. It was on some story about the life and death of this great bowler named Frank Lord. However it was not him. The kid they showed was blonde and wore no glasses. Still things like that guy’s picture make me think of that weird night where bowling and miracles seemed to go together after all.

Copyright © 2003 by Thomas R.

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