Achieving a Mission
Saturday night was one of the busiest at the alley, the place hummed with jollity.
Tom grabbed a bowling ball unsteadily and concentrated hard, his fumbling fingers struggled to find the holes.
Tom, Jack, Tony and Al had all kept the bargain to go bowling. They had all been unceremoniously dumped. They set off after work with one objective in mind: to get heinously drunk.
Tom was now trailing badly. He was a poor bowler at the best of times. His score started out badly, then got worse when he remembered just how bad at bowling he really was. It went slightly better when he had a bit to drink as he loosened up; but now, as his fingers struggled to work out the instructions from his befuddled brain; he was about doing very badly.
Tom made three staggering steps, an attempt at a run and then threw the ball down the lane. The ball promptly skipped into the gully and the 'no score' announced his ignominy.
Tom returned bedraggled to the others, and snatched his beer. “More drink. Bourbon?”
“Yep," slurred Tony, Jack and Al in turn. “Let’s drink it straight, no foolin' about."
“Right you're on,” mumbled Tom waddling off in the direction of the bar.
He took about three steps turned around and came back. “Point of a bar service button is to use it. Right? "
Tom lifted up his hand, extended his index finger and pressed the button marked “bar service " but pressed reset.
“Are you sure you want to reset your bowling mid-game?" chimed the console.
“Hey, Tom. You're gone “Jack needled. “Getting drinks,” replied Tom.
“Well, press the bar button you dummy!" “Yeah, right “Tom bleated.”
Tom extended his index finger closed one eye and aimed.
“Bar service will be with you shortly,” smarmed the sweet voice. “You're on, Jack."
Jack Robinson was huge, both tall and burly, with curly light brown hair, a strong face and gentle blue eyes. He was quietly spoken. He kept himself to himself most of the time. He'd been a farm hand in the south east of the state until he had been laid off. The land had been rendered unusable by continued abuse.
Jack wiped his brow slowly with a red handkerchief from his back pocket and adjusted his baseball cap.
“Go Jack, go!" shouted Al.
Jack plucked the heaviest ball effortlessly and rolled it slowly down the lane.
The ball ambled in a precise line down the lane and all the pins went down. “Strike!”
“Hey,Vordor. Jack, you're my hero, man."
Jack ignored the comment, wandered back, sipped some beer, wiped his brow, readjusted his baseball cap and ponderously selected another ball. This time he only managed to knock down five pins, which still left him way in the lead, with four times as many points as Tom.
“Woo, “whispered Tony under his breath as a nimble looking Asian waitress appeared wearing a short skirt and a little apron. Her little name tag announced her as 'Jay'.
“Would you mind just standing there a bit while we figure what we desire?" said Tony lasciviously.
“Guys, thanks, but I'm a waitress. Do you want a drink or not?”
“Yeah, lady," said Tom jovially, “Take no notice of Tony here, he don't mean nothing."
“Don't I?" said Tony with a childish grin. “No, you don't." retorted Tom.
“Four bourbons please lady. Straight as they come." “Yeah, straight as I come!" blurted Tony.
The waitress gave Tony a look and wagged her finger at him.
“Okay guys, four bourbons coming up," she said with a concealed smile.” Heard the difference between a woman and an empty box of Kentucky
Fried Chicken?" continued Tony.
“Have you heard of taking your turn”" heckled Al.
“Yeah, right. While I take my turn, you see if you can figure it out."
Tony was the wild card at bowling, some days he was great other days he was a tragedy.
Tony ambled up the bowling lane wiggling his behind at them.
“See them pins, guys? Well take a good long hard look at them 'cos they're going down."
“Bet. Dollars where your big mouth is,” said Al. Tony wiggled his butt at them again.
“50 bucks says I knock 'em all down." Jack bristled.
“Go to it,” Jack replied smiling, “Game on."
Tony picked up a ball holding it in mock concentration. He backed to the guys and ran down the aisle throwing the ball down hard. It bombed down the lane.
“Ah, man I don't believe this!" Al hollered shaking his head.” “That's fifty you owe me Jack. Bets on the next strike?”
The waitress returned with a clinking tray of Jack Daniels.
“Hey lady, reckon I can get another strike?" shouted Tony. “Mister, I reckon you'll either strike or miss entirely.”
“So which is it to be?”
Jay looked hesitant a moment. “Miss.”
“Yes!” the guys said in unison and slapped each other's hands.
“The woman knows," Al shouted.
“Well, Jack. Fifty more or are you gonna be chicken. Finger lickin' chicken?" Tony stammered with increasing bravado.
Jack nodded He was getting too drunk to care, although you wouldn't know to look at him.
Tony selected another ball. Took an even longer run up and hurdled the ball down, it skipped into the next lane and thudded uselessly against the back.
"So you gonna turn pro' or what? " shouted Al. Tom creased.
“Did you catch that, you cocky son of a bitch? “Sobbed Tom through his laughter.
“Hey, you win some you lose some. The ball slipped,” said Tony smiling, "That's even.”
“Slipped into the other lane? You threw it, you mother,” Tom howled.
Tony ambled back to the table where the bourbons were lined up with his usual cocky gate.
“Guys. Here’s to Carlton motors. Kiss goodbye to the most boring goddam job on earth,” Tony said.
They all ceremoniously raised their glasses and curled arms to form a ring.
“Last one down gets the next drinks. Five, four, three, two, one. Go.”
Al slammed down his glass, then Jack, Tony and Tom fractionally later.
“Get them in Tom," Tony demanded.
“Right, let's press Jay's button.”
“Bar service will be with you shortly."
“Bar Service will be with you shortly." mimicked Tom. “Who the hell is Bar Service anyway? What sort of a person goes by the name of Bar Service? Imagine, you go into a bar and the bar man says 'Hi, my name's Bar Service'."
“Tom's losing it," Al garbled.
“99.99 % fucking accuracy. Yeah right. Can’t you think of anything else to say, like “How are you”?" Tom continued gesticulating to the imaginary Carlton console.
"Jack wouldn't it be great to reprogram that goddamn' machine so it told you jokes and shit while you were working? “Hi, welcome to work. What’s the difference between a Republican and a Democrat?”
“Dunno' what's the difference?”
“It wouldn't be great if it told shit jokes like that," said Jack.
"Maybe. No it should say, “How big is your cock? Eight inches.” Then it'd be 99.99% fuckin' accurate. Tom kicked the ball game console.
“Hey Tom, cool It." said Jack.
“Like fuck 'em." said Tom raising his fists. “I want another drink, who is gonna' join me."
Momentarily Jack, Al and Tony regarded Tom uncomfortably.
“Come on guys, remember, remember what are we are here for?" “To get drunk!" shouted Al.
“I said what are we here for?” shouted Tom even more loudly. “To get drunk!” they all shouted in unison.
“So what are we goin' to drink?" shouted Tom back.
“Bourbon,” They all echoed and slapped each other’s hands.
“We've already pressed the goddamn' button," Jack ventured. “Oh, yeah, "Tom answered diffidently.
“So what is the difference between a woman and a box of Kentucky?" asked Al.
“Like who’s on now anyhow?” said Jack. “Jack hush, I wanna' hear this joke."
“OK guys, so you wanna hear this joke or not?”
“Drinks guys," said the same waitress.
“Lady Luck has appeared," said Tony. “You wanna hear our little joke?" he said putting his arm around her shoulders.
“Tony, knock it off," said Al becoming vaguely embarrassed.
“Alright guys, mellow out a bit here, please," Jay chided. “No." She walked off.
“No taste. So what's the difference between a box of KFC and a woman?”
“Nothing. Take away the breasts and thighs and all you're left with is a smelly box."
“Jees Tony, that's tight." Tom creased up.
“So drink”" Tony shouted.
“Aaaaaaand link!”" they said in unison.
Jack slammed down first followed by Al, Tony and Tom. Tom watched his glass fall of the table and smash.
“You're gonna lose all your bonus! You're supposed to drink from the glass not smash the fucker,” Tony quipped.
“Errr, Urrrm, yeah, spose so, cheap glasses," gurgled Tom. Tom stood up and then sat down again.
“Fuck this console. Hey Jay, come over here, come on." shouted Tom. Other people were starting to look at them now.
“Say Jay, get over here," shouted Tom again “We need more drinks."
“Who’s on anyway? Like bowling, balls and pins. Someone must be on.” said Al.
“Dunno, I don't care anymore,” said Jack indifferently. “Who cares?” said Tony.
A man with a synthetic tie and uniform was striding seriously towards them. They didn't notice. They had just started singing. They normally splurted the American anthem
Tom was waving his empty glass around aimlessly in the air.
“Oh, la-la la la, la. La la-la la la, la. La la-la.La la -la, dee dee-dee dee, dee dum. Oh the..."
“I am sorry to say that you are going to have to leave now," the manager said fingering his baton.
“Oh look. It’s Dracula. What big teeth you have. Ever heard of an orthodox...teeth fixer? Cheap set of teeth. He got tusks from an elephant?” Al stammered.
“I said I'm sorry but you are going to have to leave now."
"But we were just sort of startin' the free entertainment. It's patriotic. Come on sing along. Hi folks and welcome to T7 news. And tonight it's sing along with Dracuuuula.”
“Oh, la-la la la la.”
“If you don't leave peaceably I will be forced to call security,” the manager said monotonously.
“What's security? Security got bigger teeth than you? Do they come in a coffin, dressed with lettuce ready to go?” said Tom in a dazed voice.
The man fingered at his internal com.
“Why don't you ask the rest of them to come over here and join the party?” slurred Tom,” There’s bourbon and good company."
The manager stood like a statue and didn't respond.
Two security men came up. This was the most exciting thing that had happened to them for weeks.
“You are going to have to leave," the taller man bellowed. They all wavered and looked at him.
“I will ask you one more time, and if you do not agree, we will have to see you off.”
“Ooooh blow me darling," Tony cooed.” Hey silent one. Are you like Draaculaa do you bite? I'm scared you've got big sticks."
The two men stiffened.
“You must leave now," the smaller man barked.
“We must leave now," said Tony effeminately waving his butt at him.
The two men jerked into life. They gripped arms adroitly, and had two men a piece, with their arms far up their backs, before they knew what had happened.
“Get the fuck off of me," wailed Tom.
“I'm sorry I don't think I heard you correctly," said the guard pushing Tony's arm further up his back.
Jack was struggling but to no avail. He was too far-gone. His co ordination had departed 'on the last bourbon.' They were paraded ignominiously past the families who gave them supercilious smiles.
“And fuck you too!” Tom shouted. The grip and pain heightened.
They tumbled down the stairs and were hurled out of the door, their shoes following them onto the ' Welcome to lnfoball mat. '
“We did it," said Tony, “We’re drunk as..."
It was about eight o'clock and the sun had disappeared. The dark blanket of cloud threw maliciously poisonous rain on their heads, water thrumming on the cars.
“Cold,”" Tom muttered.
The lights of the car park were swaying in the increasing wind. They weren't, but Tom thought so. Jack was horizontal and snoring like old piping.
“Home," muttered Tom. Tom tried to get up. His head was pounding. He felt sick, cold, empty. His guts were writhing in an invisible vice. He started to shiver. The icy rain trickled down his front and into his groin.
“Guys, got to go home,” stammered Tom.
Al looked cadaverous. His stomach churned and clenched. Peristalsis went into reverse gear throwing its contents upwards.
The white acidic liquid flew towards Tom in slow motion. He felt the comforting warmth across his face. Then the smell rammed him. He heaved but couldn't throw. The rain washed vomit over his colored shirt, giving it a mottled appearance.
Tom awoke some time later. He didn't know what time it was. He was outside Gosselink's bible store. His face gently oozed blood and he was clutching a broken bottle.
His body felt racked by poison.
How had he got here? Where had he been? Where were the others? A car lay in front of him its broken fender drooping and the passenger doors were open.
The rain beat relentlessly down on the road. It bled bitumen-creating spirals of vivid color shimmering by his cheek. Water gushed along at the edge of the road, picking up a packet of cigarettes and carrying it on a torrent of water.
Police sirens echoed towards him, a car screeched and Tom heard doors cluncking, feet thumping. He felt his body being lifted and a fist drill into his abdomen. He curved up.
He was bundled into the back of the car. He could smell the policeman's breath but couldn't see his face.
“Time to go,” Goldentooth boomed.“What is happening to me?” asked the voice of reason in his head. The car jolted and raced off.