September 3, 2013 – Mrs. Turner’s weekly bowling team was down two players due to a foot fungus, placing their chances of winning the Over Eighty, Late Summer Farm League Championship on the line. When we heard about it yesterday, Sawyer and I decided we had to help. Before the ugly toe crud incident, the ladies were a shoo-in to win the big trophy and bragging rights for the next year. When we showed up at the bowling alley, we saw Mrs. Turner and her team sitting on the sidelines watching the tournament as spectators. It was a sad sight, but Sawyer and I were very excited, for neither of us had ever worn a bowling shirt before. We debated over whether we should also be wearing pants, but I thought the shirts were striking enough on their own. They were bright pink with a black panel running down the left side that bore the insignia of ten exploding pins. Over the pins in bold, pink cursive, were our names.
Mrs. Turner was surprised to see us until we told her of our plan. Then, she was touched by our caring. We hadn’t tried bowling before tonight, though I had read quite a bit about it online this afternoon. Three humans, including Mrs. Turner, bowled first. Then I went, focusing on my form and follow through. I brought the bowling ball to my beak and smelled it like I saw the human bowlers do. I brought back my wing until it was behind my back, aimed at the center arrow, leaned my shoulder toward the floor while tiptoeing up to the line and released the ball like it was riding a bullet train through a sea of fence posts. Just like the picture on our shirts, the wooden targets shattered in surrender. I whooped and hollered and did a little victory dance around the ball return until Sawyer grabbed me by the shoulder and whispered in my ear, “That was the wrong lane”.
Sawyer went next, rolling the little candlepin ball between her legs. Her aim was impeccable and she knocked down 9 pins. My aim got better over time as we got lost in the competition. A couple of hours passed and by the third game, my wings were dragging on the floor. I was so tired that I forgot to let go of the last ball I threw and dragged myself halfway done the alley before coming up with a gutter ball. I felt like I had let Mrs. Turner down. When I looked up at the scoreboard, I realized that we still had a chance. It came down to the last frame between the Barnstorm Alley Cats, and our team, the Hairpin Hoots. We were behind by three pins when Sawyer stood to take the last turn of the night. Everyone leaned forward to get the best view. The outcome of the championship depended solely on the performance on my best friend. I could tell she was exhausted. “C’mon, Sawyer”, I uttered under my breath; “you can do this!” The first ball she lobbed straight into the gutter and a soft groan erupted from one side of the gallery. She slowly picked up a second ball, her wings straining under its weight. She took a step to the right and two deliberate steps back before dropping the ball on her foot and watching it roll away beyond the candy machines. Tiny claps from the opposing team abruptly silenced after I shot them the stink eye. Sawyer was unhurt, but out of pep. Mrs. Turner put her arm around her and told Sawyer that it didn’t matter if the next ball knocked down a pin or not. She already considered herself a winner for having such wonderful friends as the two of us. That’s when Sawyer looked at me and smiled. She inhaled, picked up a ball, walked over to the line and let it roll. Not a single breath was taken while the bowling ball travelled unhurriedly over the high gloss floor toward ten unsuspecting pins. I didn’t think we had a chance. No one did. In fact, some of the crowd started to shake hands with the Alley Cats in celebration of their impending triumph. But then, the most wonderful thing happened. One pin, then two, then three and four gracefully plopped over; allowing Sawyer’s bowling ball to pass through with little flourish and disappear quietly beyond the rubber flap. The Hairpin Hoots had won the league trophy after all.
Some of the crowd was shocked. Many, including Mrs. Turner and her friends, were elated. Sawyer and I hugged and danced under the neon lights that began to dart and swirl over the lanes as victorious music filled the air. What a night! Mrs. Turner couldn’t stop thanking us. She gave Sawyer and me a ride home in the front seat of her station wagon and told Sawyer to keep the trophy at our coop for a few days. Sawyer declined respectfully, stating that she would be happier knowing that Mrs. Turner had it on her mantle. She dropped us off at the end of our driveway, waving an enthusiastic good night and Sawyer and I linked wings for the short walk to the chickenyard. “You were GREAT!” I complimented. “You were, too!” she acquiesced. “We went bowling without any pants,” I stated. “We sure did!” Sawyer laughed as we hopped up into the coop and closed the door. Wilma raised an eyebrow as we entered, but never spoke a word.