Take a juvenile delinquent bowling? Preposterous. Mr. Meyers put it out of his mind. But he finds himself at the detention center offering to take a kid bowling. Reuben pretty much defies everyone, including himself. In a surprising way, of course.
Mr. Meyers lost his two sons in American wars and his wife to her own cells that went wild with disease. He coped by bowling. Every afternoon. For a decade.
Then he saw a boy one afternoon in the custody of police going into the Juvenile Detention Facility. Mr. Meyers stopped his car, seeing the place for the first time, imaging the people inside. The next day he went in and offered to take a kid bowling once a week.
They gave him Reuben. A wild-eyed, wild-haired ball of surly anger.
Mr. Meyers took him to the bowling alley.
“I ain’t bowling,” said Reuben.
Mr. Meyers played without him. But the boy began to watch. Creep closer.
“I can beat you, old man,” Reuben said.
“I don’t think you can,” Mr. Meyers said softly.
Then Reuben picked up a ball and surprised both of them.
Fiction>short stories; Fiction>Sports
Bowling, juvenile delinquent, juvenile detention, mentor, sports psychology, sports counseling, coming of age
Mr. Meyers flapped his hands on his thighs as he waited.
I don’t bowl. Haven’t for a long time, anyway. But one day years ago, I watched as an older man bowled an excellent game while three surly teenagers watched, pretending not to care, but their eyes betrayed their desire. They wanted to bowl better than the old man. They wanted to defeat old age and wisdom with the exuberance of youth.
That made me think of a man, an old man, who did nothing but bowl. And one day, out of the blue, he decided to see if he could help a kid who didn’t have much going for him, a surly teenager, by taking him bowling. Not to teach him. Or coach him. But simply to bowl like usual, like he did every day, and watch how the boy would respond.
And what if the boy learned, absorbed somehow merely by watching and doing, and bested the old man? How would that change the boy?
We are changed, all of us, by things we watch and experience and react to, whether we want to seek it out or even acknowledge it at all. Few of us need to be pushed. Most of us simply need to be shown the way, maybe even only a way. Then, follow it or not, our world changes. Doors open. Others close. Pathways we’d never considered become familiar, liberating, self-fulfilling. I love that about human nature.
Mr. Meyers: Widower, with both of his only two sons lost in war. Now he bowls. And helps troubled youngsters.
Reuben: Juvenile delinquent whose life changes because of Mr. Meyers and bowling.
Mattie: Counter clerk at the bowling alley.
Ridiculously Simplified Synopsis
An old man taking a juvenile delinquent bowling turns into a life-changing opportunity.
“Lookie there,” said Mattie, pointing to the scoreboard. “He’s bowling you a zero!”
“Why’d you bring me here?” asked Reuben. “Oh, no good reason,” said Mr. Meyers. “Just to watch a little old-age wisdom and grace tower over brutish youth.”
“I ain’t no Reuben,” the boy said. “No,” Mr. Meyers said. “Not likely.”
Settings & Locations
Themes & Symbolism
Turn Life Around: Doing something with spirit and energy opens doors to new opportunities.
Loss and Recovery: Mr. Meyers lost his wife and two sons. Reuben lost his boyhood to crime. Together, they help each other recover.
About the Author
Jeff Posey has a geology degree and worked as a petroleum geologist before he discovered the world of words. Since then, he’s been city editor of a metropolitan magazine, fiction editor for a national magazine, and then stumbled on his own ignorance: about business. So he earned an MBA, thinking that would solve everything. It didn’t. Now he writes short stories and novels, most inspired by his nearly two decades of research and fascination with ancient Southwest cultures (mainly the good ol’ Anasazi). You’ll see allusions to the ancient ones in all of his work, which he thinks is rather like a huge meta-novel in progress.
Photo of bowling sign copyright Robert Hamilton on Flickr (see photo here). This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 444 Castro Street, Suite 900, Mountain View, California, 94041, USA.