Fantasy Drabble #325 "Richmond & Son"

The shovel blade sliced easily into the yielding ground.

"These things have to be done a certain way, at a certain time, or they don't work. The forms are important."

He drove it in deeper with his foot, pulled back on the handle, forced rich dark soil up from the rupture. The boy glanced around nervously, waiting amidst the headstones.

"There's a tradition; you're part of that now."

A car horn sounded somewhere; a dog barked somewhere else.  The pile of dirt mounted beside the deepening hole.

"Coffin won't be much further. You say the words like I taught you."

The New Amsterdam Vampire Bowling Team

"You're up."

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.