Flash Fiction of the day, Local Color, by Michael Patrick Brady

“Past certain ages or certain wisdoms it is very difficult to look with wonder; it is best done when one is a child; after that, and if you are lucky, you will find a bridge of childhood and walk across it.”
― Truman Capote, Local Color

Tony Bones painting from the Kettle Gallery, For the Love of Kettle, Competitive Shopping Event

From my old online journal The Daily Epiphany – Sunday, November 15, 1998

Bowling alley

I spent the morning by going on into work. It is especially odd when I’m the only person at the huge factory. The parking lot empty except for my gold Taurus.

Tons and piles of paperwork I wanted to attack undisturbed, but I only chewed off a fraction of what I wanted to accomplish. Ambition and motivation were hard to find today.

Then I drove on down to meet Candy and the kids. Today was the Wildcat’s end-of-the-outdoor-season soccer party. We decided to hold it at a somewhat rundown bowling alley not too far from my work. We chose it because it was cheap.

I drive by this place often, you probably don’t. It has seen better days, the street it is on has seen better too. Displaced by newer roads it is now a backwater, a byway, only frequented by folks like myself that are constantly seeking back ways, shortcuts around the nearby railroad tracks.

The entrance to the lanes is flanked by two large plaster lions. They are often repainted in garish colors; today they were a tawny beige and shit brown. Between their outstretched paws each cradles a bowling ball, these were painted a bright blue. I rubbed one cerulean orb for luck as I passed by.

When I pushed the door open and entered the alley I was assaulted by the stench of cigarette smoke, some fresh, some echoes of ancient puffing. It didn’t take long to get used to it though, and the place was clean and well-run. And it was cheap. The neighborhood must be run down more than I thought, one feature was public surveillance cameras trained on the parking lot so you could keep an eye on your car while you bowled. The kids liked watching their friends arrive on the monitors.

Everyone seemed to have a good time. We rented four lanes for two hours. The kids played on three lanes and the adults on one. For those of you that don’t hang out in such places, there has been a big change in bowling to accommodate small children and recapture the family bowling market. There is a selection of lightweight balls for kids, with no holes in them. The kids simply heave these down the lane the best way they can. There are folding bumpers that are extended out to fill the gutters, so the kids will almost always be able to hit at least a few pins.

Lee really bowled well and had a blast. Nick did too, though he whined and griped the whole time. “I’ll never get the hang of this!” “I’ll never get a strike!” He had his premature teenager disease bad today; which is frustrating for everybody around him.

The adults had fun too. Candy bowled on one of the bumper lanes and ended up with a respectable score. For me, of course, the primary attraction of bowling is the thrill of wearing rented shoes.

We bowled, handed out trophies, ate cupcakes, the usual stuff. We found out that the team the Wildcats beat yesterday in indoor had never lost a game before.

As I was standing around I noticed a glass covered, framed letter mounted on the wall. It was from some bowling consulting firm congratulating the bowling alley owner on his modern, impressive facility. It went on gushing for several paragraphs before concluding with the sentence, “And we are confident in saying that your bowling facility is one of the top one or two percent of all bowling centers in the entire country.”

I looked closer and the yellowed letter was dated 1985.

And today’s flash fiction – Local Color, by Michael Patrick Brady

From Flash Fiction Magazine

Michael Patrick Brady Webpage

Michael Patrick Brady Twitter