This was a flash fiction story created for NYC Midnight's 2014 Flash Fiction Challenge. I do very poorly in these contests but could care less. I got the marketing savvy to push my work into the world regardless of how I place in these contests.
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Location: a cornfield
Object: bowling ball
THE BOWLING ALLEY PROJECT
On our first date, Cindy stressed how important it was to her to marry a man with a stable job, a stable career, and was in good financial shape. I told her that was all good and fine and dandy but a man like me with an entrepreneurial spirit would be a more fun husband. She was reluctant to agree and I convinced her to give me a second date and our love blossomed.
I romanced her on the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk and I bought her ice cream from Old Hal’s 100 Flavors. She chose the Peanut Butter Pretzel and I had the Dutch Almond Chocolate flavor.
Can I try yours?” her beaming smile lifted my mood on a cloudy summer day.
I held the cone and she went to taste it and I smeared some of the ice cream on her nose. She laughed, and cried from laughter later when my flip-flop got caught between two wood planks on the boardwalk and I face planted and damn near broke my nose.
Cindy didn’t know about my latest business. I was keeping it a surprise. I borrowed a half a million dollars from a local bank in Dover Delaware with my house as collateral to build the world’s first bowling alley in a cornfield. About five miles west of Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, cornfields stretched for miles across the flatlands there. I had a startling vision, much like Bugsy Siegel did when the epiphany came to him to build a hotel and casino in the Nevada desert.
Marketing was tough and I hoped that tourists visiting Delaware beaches would feast their eyes on my unique business and I’d soon be rolling in the dough. I rented a billboard off Route 113 and designed an advertising sign that read: John Jacob’s Cornfield Bowling Alley. Have Some Corn On The Cob And Bowl. Avoid Gutter Balls. When You Score Three Strikes, You Win A Free Game And A Free Thanksgiving Turkey. There was a picture of me sporting a million dollar smile, holding a few cornhusks and giving a thumbs up to my soon-to-be customers.
I was so excited to share my dream with Cindy, to show her I could be a great provider with a world-class successful business. There were only three lanes but still. Each lane was meticulously designed, with blue colored gutters and a bowling bowl for each color of the rainbow. Customers could rent shoes from a barn house nearby and would have to walk down a long trail with high bushels of corn before they arrived at the magnificent site. Maybe one day it would get nominated to become an Eight Wonder of the World.
It was challenging to build, the machinery for resetting the pins needed constant maintenance and the ground needed to be tilled and cemented so the lanes wouldn’t sink in the ground. I had a big ass tarp ready to go to be placed over the open lanes in case Mother Nature decided to act up.
I loved my cornfield bowling alley business, almost as much as I loved Cindy. When I made up my mind to settle down, I knew now was the time to ask Cindy to be my wife.
Our Grand Opening was on a sunny mid-July day, not a cloud in the sky and the flag shaped grand opening streamers danced in the wind. Cindy agreed to wear a black blindfold since I was adamant about keeping it a surprise. I had another surprise waiting for her as well.
I held her hand, and she needed assistance getting out of the car.
“J.J, you silly goose. Are we there yet?”
We got to lane one and I picked up a red bowling bowl and guided Cindy’s fingers into the three holes.
“I feel something.” It slipped onto her finger and it was a natural instinct that her finger accepted it.
I got down on one knee. “Cindy, will you marry me?”
“As long as I don’t get a gutter ball.”
I was stunned by her answer. Cindy had never bowled before. She took her fingers out from the holes and like a young child learning how to bowl for the first time, she rocked the red bowling ball between her legs, launched it a few feet in the air. It damn near cracked lane number three when it landed and right before hitting a pin, it hit the gutter and flew off the gutter track.
“Shit. Gutter ball.”
“ I believe my life is ironic at every turn. We will be okay.” She said it with bristled confidence.
“We could have a good life together.”
“ Yes, I’ll marry you, but you need a job.”
“This is my job babe. Give it time.”
“I have some news to share with you,” She smiled and I leaned in to smell the yellow dandelion in her hair.
I gulped and it hurt as some saliva went down the wrong tube. It was as if a giant lump of clay was caught in my throat. Looking over at my baby, there were empty lanes and no customers. A brisk wind knocked a pin down on lane three. A few oversized green leaves broke off from some corn bushels and landed on lane one, then slid off. I just paid that damn company Amboy a thousand bucks to clean and gloss the lanes.
A Lincoln Town car sedan slowed down near the barn house. A few rowdy teenagers screamed out from the windows. One of them, a young muscular blonde named Jimmy Pike had a few tattoos of several alligators on both arms. He crushed a Busch beer can and threw it on the road.
He screamed out the window. “ Hey farm boy, we are looking for a place to keep drinking and bowl. Know a place near by?”
“Why, yes I do.”