The display over the lane has our names: Me, Coral, Wen, Rocky. No Gunnar, of course, and there'll be no mention of why.
"I don't understand why we're here."
"I figured we needed a change."
I throw my first ball. It's been forty years, maybe fifty, but the muscles remember: the ball curves elegantly and the pins scatter. An 'X' appears on the scoreboard as I return to my seat next to Coral. "These people will be full of cholesterol."
"The clubbers were always full of liquor. What's the difference?" She gets up to bowl, throws a strike as flawless as mine.
I shake my head, look around. Rocky is at the jukebox, looking for music; but of course there's nothing in it old enough for him to like. Wen is battling a stand-up arcade game, the kind that cost a dollar, and there are children watching her. "I don't think they're playing."
"Bowl for Wen, I'll bowl for Rocky."
We finish the first frame and start the second. I should be looking around, picking out a 'donor', arranging to bump into them, compliment them on their play, whatever, but instead I'm concentrating on the game. I used to play at a place in the fifties, a road house with a bar attached. The balls were coated with rubber, then; Things change. My ball sails down the lane and crashes into the pins, a little too loud. Another 'X' appears on the screen.
We finish out the second frame. As I get up to start the third, Coral is staring at the board: there are too many 'X' marks for her liking. "You should throw a spare. No perfect games, we don't want to attract attention."
The annoyed look that crosses my face is subtle and ephemeral, but she notices. We've known each other a long time.
"I wanted the turkey."
She rolls her eyes. "Fine. But you're leaving at least three pins standing by the end." Coral knows best.