It was Saturday morning. Frowning in his unlit bedroom, young
Robert Towell sat on his bed with his bowling shoes on his feet,
his nylon shorts and his crappy yellow and brown bowling logo
T-shirt snug around his scrawny frame. The curtains were drawn
tight, but it didn't matter, it was as if he had never seen the
sun to begin with. Three times a week he participated in the concrete
shame-lung Olympics, and was paid to play, paid to stay out of
the sunlight. His parents thudded on his bedroom door. He got
up and walked towards the noise. It was game time again.
With second-hand smoke and the stink of coffee muttering through
the building, he prayed for a coma. As he stalled for time and
retied his shoes, he tried to avoid eye contact with the diseased
carpet pattern. The sport that would never appear on the surface.
For three long years, every weekend was spent chained to the ball
return, his parents fist-fighting in the stands, the pressure,
the unavoidable exploitation; Robert Towell took it all, his raven
black hair, absorbed the crowd chants, the television camera blinking,
the trophies sullied with a thousand fingerprints. He hated the
carpet design; the puke post-modern abstract designs that melded
the colours of fox orange and Aqua Velva blue, with hints of spray-paint
pink long faded. This was young Robert Towell's childhood, kept
sealed in a jar, the sun never lubricating his mind or body, never
warming the back of his neck. Instead, overcooked hot dogs from
the darkest caverns of Ontario flipped, never vilified by the
health inspector. One day, thought young Robert Towell, I will
murder each rule, each pin, and unthread each stitch in this foul,
OUTSIDE OF BOWLING ALLEY:
Well Bobby is doing amazing, he has to memorize
bowling lines for their weekly promos and has to spend countless
hours getting three strikes in a row for these spots, that part
is a bit staged, but he's really comfortable with it. The rest
of the time he was competing on live television almost every weekend.
INSIDE OF BOWLING ALLEY:
(screeching above crowd, holding a thermos)
Come on Robbie, we're all watching.
(mumbling and sneering, hot dog bits stuffed in his mouth)
Robert, come on son!
Robert Towell knocks down the remaining pins and wins the game.
He holds the under-15 provincial trophy as the camera crews and
hosts swarm the small boy. He looks into the camera with dead
gray eyes that begin to tear.
Nathaniel G. Moore
will strike again.