From Episode 38

If you haven’t already done so please read the Introduction to this book, first.  It will be helpful to better understand these sample episode extracts.

The Thule Girls – Bowl Me Over!

Returning from slop chute number five, stomping the snow and mud from her boots Rhonda complained, “God, how I hate Sundays.”

“We all hate Sundays,” Kerry assured her, holding the door for Thelma, Shelly and Maria.  “We get one every six days, so you might as well figure out the best thing to do with them.”

“Let’s go bowling,” Maria suggested, letting the door slam shut behind her.

“Bowling?”  Rhonda asked, shedding her parka.  “You want to go bowling?”

“Why not?”  Maria asked, sliding her glasses up on her nose for the hundredth time, “It’s only two-thirty.

“They do have a bowling alley here on the base,” Shelly affirmed.

“I haven’t made that scene in years,” Rhonda admitted, thinking about the possibility.

“I’d dig it,” Kerry declared, lighting a cigarette.  “I was going to do some laundry, but it can wait.”

“I’ve only bowled a couple of times, but I’ll go,” Shelly said.

“I’m going back to bed,” Thelma announced.

“Tony must be planning to visit you tonight” Kerry, grinned.

“I’m not sure.  His schedule got messed up with the storm.  “He says the Security Guards have to alternate.”

“The new cat had better worry about his safety if they do change the watch,” Kerry declared.  “I’m about ready to attack.”

“If things change, which one do you want?”  Thelma asked, laughing.

“I’d dig any of them,” Kerry retorted.  “I’m at that point.”

“Who of us is here and accounted for?”  Shelly asked the group gathered by the back door.

“Lulu’s still out with Jerry,” Maria said, glancing sideways at Rhonda.

“And Lainie’s still gone,” Thelma said.  “I wonder where she is.  She disappeared from the club last night.”

“She’s gotta’ be hanging out with the Colonel,” Rhonda answered confidently.

“What do you mean by that?” Maria asked, once again confused by Rhonda’s expressions.  “Are they hanging something out somewhere?  What would they be hanging out? What, Rhonda?  Why the hell don’t you speak English?”

“Tell her,” Rhonda ordered, nodding at Shelly.

“Hanging out means being with someone,” Shelly explained, laughing.  “It means spending time with someone.”

“Ohh,” Maria exclaimed, extracting her little black address book from her purple bag.

“Are you still writing down everything I say?”  Rhonda asked, watching Maria lick the end of her stubby pencil.

“Yes.  I study it every night so I know what the hell you’re talking about, you Be Bop person.”

“I’m surprised you have time to study at night.  You spend most of your time over there in the kitchen with the Sergeant,” Rhonda teased.

“You’re just jealous because Lulu took Jerry away from you… you… you ‘chick’,” Maria barked, checking her black book for the correct word.

“Okay,” Kerry said, hoping to redirect the conversation.  “Are we going bowling?”

“Where’s Linda Rose?”  Thelma asked.

“Ah’m in here” Linda Rose called from her room.  “Ah’m in bed with the damned cramps.”

“Don’t you want to go bowling?”  Maria called in her high-pitched voice.  “We’re going bowling.”

“No ah do not.  My blossom fell.  Ah couldn’t crumble ah cracker today ah feel so poorly.  Ya’ll go on and have fun.  Ah’ll try tah go tah the chute with ya’ll tonight.  Go on now.”

Kerry dialed for a taxi and the four females trailed out of the back door as Shelly explained to Maria that ‘having your blossom fall’ meant the same thing as ‘falling off the roof’, which meant the same thing as ‘getting your period’ which meant the same thing as ‘getting the curse’.

Entering the vacant bowling alley, admiring the polished lanes, Kerry exclaimed, “Wow, look at this place.  It looks brand new!”

“There’s no one here,” Shelly observed, entering the building.  “There’s not one person here.  The place is empty.”

“Maybe everybody’s in church,” Rhonda muttered, sarcastically.

“Do you really think so?”  Maria asked, unzipping her jacket.

“No, I don’t really think so,” Rhonda growled.

“Then why did you say that?”  Maria asked, approaching a chair near the rack of bowling balls.  “Why do you say things you don’t mean?”

“Gee, the pins are all set up, and these balls look new,” Kerry observed, ignoring the squabbling between Maria and Rhonda.  “I wonder why nobody’s around.”

Studying an eight by ten inch poster, Shelly announced, “This sign says we have to set our own pins.”

“What does that mean?”  Maria asked, staring at Shelly.

“You’ve never bowled before have you?”  Rhonda challenged Maria, wiping her hands on a gray towel hanging from a hook under the racked balls.

“No.”  Maria admitted, wondering what difference it made.

“Then you can be the ‘pin setter’,” Rhonda said, establishing the rule.

“What’s a ‘pin setter’?”  Maria asked.  “How can I be a ‘pin setter’ when I don’t know what a ‘pin setter’ is?”

“A ‘pin setter’ sets up the pins,” Rhonda exclaimed.

“Well, what’s a pin?”  Maria screeched, confused.

Shelly and Kerry slouched on metal chairs, their hands shoved in their parka pockets, waiting for what could be the beginning of a ten round fight.

“Pins are the things you throw the bowling ball at.”

“What bowling ball?”

“The black balls with the three holes in them.”

“I don’t see any black balls,” Maria insisted.

“Jesus, Maria,” Rhonda said, picking up a ball from the rack.  “This is a bowling ball.  It is black, and it has three holes in it.  See?”

“What are the holes for?”  Maria asked in her little girl voice.

“You put your fingers in the holes,” Rhonda explained, holding the black ball in one hand, inserting three fingers in the holes with her other hand.

“Why?”  Maria asked, beginning to pout.

“Why what?”  Rhonda asked, placing the ball back on the rack.

“Why do you put your fingers in the holes?”

“So you can throw the ball!”  Rhonda exclaimed, raising her voice.

Shelly and Kerry, sat, mesmerized by the scene unfolding before them.

“How can you throw a ball if you have your fingers stuck in it?”  Maria asked, raising her voice to match Rhonda’s.

“You slide your fingers out of the ball when you throw it.”

“You mean you stick your fingers in the ball, and then slide them out of the ball when you throw it?”

“Now you’ve got it.”

“That doesn’t make any sense, Rhonda.  Why do you stick your fingers in the ball in the first place?”

“It helps you hang on to the ball,” Rhonda charged, becoming exasperated.

“That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of,” Maria said, stomping her foot.  “Why do you want to hang on to a ball you intend to throw?  Are you sure you know what you’re talking about?”

Rhonda stared at Maria, as she so often did, in sheer disbelief.

“And where am I supposed to throw this black ball with the holes in it?”  Maria asked, hands on her hips.

“You throw the ball at the pins,” Rhonda snarled, glancing at Shelly and Kerry.

“Well, what the hell is a pin?  You keep talking about pins.  Do you mean hairpins, safety-pins, hat-pins?  What pins?  Tell me what the hell a pin is!”

“They’re those white wooden things down there, at the end of the lane,” Rhonda answered in her ‘teacher’ voice.

“You mean those funny looking white things down there?”  Maria asked, squinting, trying to bring the objects into focus.

“Yes,” Rhonda puffed.

“Thank you,” Maria mocked.

“Don’t mention it,” Rhonda growled.

“Does it matter which side of the lane you throw the ball down as long as you don’t hit the pins, Miss Bowling Queen?”  Maria asked, studying the distance involved.

Rhonda studied Maria, as the Princess fiddled with her glasses, studying the playing field.

“You don’t try to miss the pins, Maria.  You try to strike the pins.  The object of the game is to knock all the pins down, hopefully at the same time. You strike the white pins with the black ball.”

“So you’re telling me I have to walk down there and strike the white pins with my fingers stuck in the black ball and knock them down?  When I get down there, do I strike the pins only once or can I strike them as many times as I feel like?”

“Maria,” Rhonda wheezed, staring at the highly polished wooden floor she was stomping her foot on, her patience being stretched to the limit, “Try to stay with me on this, okay?”

“Okay,” Maria replied, “but it’s three o’clock.  How long will I have to stay with you?  How long is this place open?”

“Never mind about that,” Rhonda moaned, astounded by Maria’s ability to misunderstand.  “Let’s start from the beginning.”

Rhonda explained to Maria once again, in greater detail, what bowling entailed.

Maria felt she had a handle on the game at last, although she was surprised to learn that when she got her fingers unstuck from the black ball, she could roll it down the lane rather than throw it ‘overhand’.

Since no one was using the lanes Rhonda claimed lane one, Kerry, shaking with laughter, stumbled toward lane two, and Shelly with tears streaming down her cheeks, occupied lane three.

Maria shuffled down lane one and crawled behind the pins, confident that she understood her duties.

Rhonda, in good bowling form, threw her black ball down the lane.  “That’s a strike,” she cried out, watching the ball roll smartly toward the triangle of white pins.  Suddenly the ball slowed and began to wobble.  Rhonda stood, with her mouth open, as her ball gyrated down the lane and rolled into the right gutter where it came to a complete stop.  “Shit,” she shouted, “That should have been a strike!”

Maria waited to be called upon to set the pins.  No pin setting was required however, as none of the balls thrown by the three girls ever reached the pins.  The excited Princess dashed from one lane to the next each time a ball was hurtled down the brightly polished lane, but each ball encountered some invisible obstacle which caused it to lose its speed and roll into a gutter, or stop dead in the center of the lane.

Frustration raged among the three participants while Maria waited full of anticipation and short of breath.

“Jesus,” Rhonda exclaimed, after throwing several balls and having them peter out midway to their destination, “what’s the scene here?  This is a drag.  None of my balls get to the pins!  This jive is bringing me down.”

“I ditto that,” Kerry said, wiping the perspiration from her face with a towel.  “This is the lowest!”

Shelly sat on a chair, thinking about the phenomenon.  “There has to be a reason why none of our balls will travel the length of the lane,” she declared.  “I almost threw my arm out of its socket.  This is frustrating beyond words.”

“Let’s take a gander and see what the hell is going on here,” Rhonda suggested.  Each girl walked her lane and returned to report her findings.

“What’s the matter?”  Maria shouted, joining the threesome.  “Aren’t we going to bowl today?  I thought you had to hit those white pins.  I’ve been waiting down there.  What’s the scene here?  I’m getting dragged!”

“That’s it!” Rhonda declared excitedly, “the lanes are not level.  They’re warped.  I’ve never seen anything like it.”

“My lane is warped too,” Kerry said, scratching her head.  “There’s no way a ball could possibly run all the way to the pins.  These lanes are a mess.  I wonder if it could be caused by the permafrost we keep hearing about?”

“I have the same problem!”  Shelly affirmed.  “Do you think permafrost could twist strips of hard, varnished wood, inside a building?  No wonder we’re the only ones here.  No one, I don’t care how great they are, could bowl on these distorted lanes.”

“Come on, let’s blow this joint,” Rhonda said, grabbing her jacket.

“Wait a minute,” Maria whined, watching the girls zipping their parkas, “you said if I would set the pins I could have a turn at throwing the ball.”

“Go ahead,” Rhonda ordered, lighting a cigarette, “throw the ball and let’s split.”

Maria waddled to the ball rack.  After stroking each black ball, deliberating for what seemed to Rhonda to be forever, Maria finally chose a ball she favored.  The Princess approached lane number one, since Rhonda’s balls had plopped into the gutter, leaving a clear lane for the next contestant.

“Put your fingers in the holes, Maria,” Rhonda called, giving instructions to the pin-setter.  “Bend your knees.  Swing the ball back and run up to the line and then release it.”

Maria walked calmly up to the ‘line’.  Holding the ball in both hands, because of its weight, she shoved it on to the lustrous wooden lane in front of her and watched it bounce.

Kerry, Shelly, and Rhonda huddled together, looking on in dismay, as the ball rolled past the twisted, warped sections of the wood, making its way to the end of the lane.  The heavy black ball slowly rolled into the pins, knocking several of them down.

Rhonda cried out, “son of a bitch!”

Kerry and Shelly stared at each other, and Maria, believing that the game had simply ended, proceeded to struggle into her parka and grab her purple bag from a chair.

As Rhonda pushed open the weighty door of the bowling alley, and struck off into the glaring sun, she announced to Kerry and Shelly, “They built that bowling alley just for her.”

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