I'm sitting on a 94 in the 8th frame, needing 48 pins in the 9th and 10th to catch the leader. The man, the competition, the next lane over hit his third strike in a row, what we in the game call a turkey, and managed to pull out a 142 for the round. My 133 in the previous game was cake, without anyone else so much as even sniffing the trail of dust I left behind. This with a right handed ball, rented shoes, and carpel tunnel slowly setting in.
At times I allow myself to think of what could have been. At age 12 I was a regular winner of the "weekly pins over average" award in my league. I was averaging a 165 using a well worn 11 pound ball. With the proper time, the proper training, I could have been someone. I could have made a name for myself, first at the local level, throwing down game for free shoes, a free novelty ball. I could have moved up, I could have been the youngest on the Tour.
I first broke 200 at age 13.
But then my interest waned. I discovered the Theatre. The theatre never put any cash in my pockets and now I am left with nothing.
Pressure mounting, I score a spare in the 9th. I do the calcultaions in my head. Nothing less than striking out in the 10th will be respectable. And my hope is fading. This is the fourth game I have bowled since Christmas and I have not yet had one strike. Two games Saturday with barely a mark, yet a narrow victory with a 125 in game two.
My head is a little fuzzy from Bud Lite at this point but I focus, try to loosen up, make some mental adjustments. The borrowed bowling alley ball is giving me a tiny hook today so I am using the second arrow from the left as my guide. Aside from a few errant throws that went Brooklyn on me I have been missing the head-pin leaving me with a lot of 7s and 8s. If my figuring is still right, I need to keep the position of my feet but aim about one-and-a-half boards over to the right of that second arrow.
Like a biathalon athlete at the shoot, I breath out and try to slow my heart beat. I move into the approach and in one fluid motion allow the weight of the ball to carry my left arm back. There is a split second of time as the ball reaches it's apex behind me, switches direction and starts it's decent, racing forward to it's ultimate goal. It's all the work of the ball now as I allow my body to move naturaly. With a soft release I can breathe again and the ball hits my target 5 feet in front of me on the floor. It hurtles towards that pocket between pins number 1 and 2: a place as beautiful as the crook of my ladies neck, the soft curve of her side.
I just bought myself to more balls to throw in the 10th.
I've got a 114 in the 9th and certainly no less than at least a 130 for the game. Not bad, but not good enough.
I repeat my flow, hit my mark again, and there is another explosion of pins in front of me.
At this point I can hear my friends behind me whispering, muttering to each other. "Can he do it?" "It must be the Polish." "He needs another one to win."
Why haven't I been doing this all game. This could have been one of those rare 245 games. This could have been special!
As I roll that all important last ball down the lane, I have a lapse, too excited, a little too tense. The ball just misses it's mark, a little to the right, it's hooking and looks like it's traveling brooklyn again.
I get an 8.
142 for the game.
I have tied my competitor, but most important, I have not lost!