Renaissance Online Magazine Fiction

APRIL 2000 | VOL. 4, NO. 4


Between beer glasses and tall tales, true friendship rears its head | Sharon LaFrenz


Like Father Like Son | Philip Loyd

ROBB KERR, an attorney and businessman, began writing fiction just over a year ago, but has jumped in with both feet. He is currently working on two young adult novels, which he hopes to begin to market soon. Kerr, who lives in Houston with his wife Mimi and four daughters, is a contributing writer to Renaissance Online Magazine.


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At the Palace Lanes bowling alley, the five-man teams in the Friday night "A" League were setting up. It was the league's first meeting of the new 2000 year and 24 teams were competing. Sonny Armour had placed his 15-pound Brunswick ball in the ball-return rack of lane six and was checking the accessories in his bag. Sonny was the captain of the Falcons, a team comprised of teachers and coaches from Pershing Middle School, where he was Principal. And he was one of the best amateur bowlers in the city, consistently averaging over 200 points per game.

Sonny was lacing up his shoes when he saw his son Chuck arrive and place his 16-pounder in the ball rack.

"Happy birthday, son," Sonny called out. "The big 3-5."

"Thanks, Dad."

"Just think -- I'm almost 30 years your senior and I'm still laying the strikes down."

"I'll get there. I've just taken up this sport, you know."

Chuck, like his father, was left-handed. He was slender and stood six feet eight inches. On his college basketball team he had been renowned for his smooth jump shot, but his resistance to rigorous training had limited his playing time. He was now the head basketball coach at Pershing, and he enjoyed joining in with the boys during practice, reliving past glories and unrealized dreams.

Sonny sat at the scorer's desk, entering the team's line-up into the computer. "Remember to lift your middle and ring finger just at the point of release, son. Ol' Chuck Garfield taught me that and I've never forgotten it."

"No prob, Dad."

"And don't go for high ball speed. Over 20 miles per hour is too fast."

"Aw, c'mon, Dad. I love to zip that ball down there."

"Let your Brunswick do the work. It'll do everything but toss the Caesar salad at the snack bar if you let it."

"I'll try, but it seems counter-intuitive that a slower speed would be better than faster."

"It's been proven, son. Dick Weber said so way back when and now his son Pete says the same thing."

"If that's what Pete Weber says, then I guess I'll at least think about it." When play began, Chuck was first up. He stood straight, gripped the ball, and assumed his stance.

"C'mon, Chuck," Sonny exhorted him, winking at one of their teammates, "it's only ten sticks at the end of a 60-foot runway."

The teammate laughed and chimed in, "That's right-just ten little ol' sticks."

With three steps and a long slide, and a great swoop of his long left arm, Chuck delivered the ball. It traveled at breakneck speed, hooking perfectly into the number one and two pins for a strike. Sonny was up next. His approach was slower and smoother, the ball spinning almost noiselessly alongside the left gutter more than half way down the lane before also hooking into the number one and two pins for a strike.

"You look like Parker Bohn," Chuck called out as he ambled back from the snack bar with two Bud Lights. He handed one to his father, who was wiping his forehead with his trademark green and white hand towel.

"Where are the little ladies going tonight?" Sonny asked.

"That new Northern Italian place, Heather told me. Thai was last week."

"Your mother sure loves these Friday nights out with Heather and the grandbaby." He laughed. "She said that's the best thing about your being on this team."

"Mom's been great -- I mean that. She helps us so much with Charles." Chuck lit a Merit Ultra Light and blew the match out. "It's funny, but we find ourselves calling him 'Sonny' more and more often. It seems to fit him somehow." Chuck sipped his beer and deeply inhaled his cigarette. "Don't forget the birthday party next week, Dad. Two years old -- he's really growing fast."

Sonny said, "Let me see that pack."

"You don't smoke, Dad." Chuck tossed the cigarettes to his father.

"Damn straight -- I gave that deadly habit up when you were just a kid. Do you ever read the warnings on these packs?"

Chuck grabbed the pack back and laughed. "Okay, it says 'Smoking By Pregnant Women May Result in Fetal Injury, Premature Birth, and Low Birth Weight.' I guess I'm alright there!"

"Hell, son, those things are damn cancer sticks and you know it. I'm surprised they still allow people to smoke in here."

"Aw, Dad, smoking and bowling kinda go together."

"Yeah, like coffins and coffin nails. You know all the experts say how harmful smoking is."

"Well, experts don't always know everything. Just like with that bowling speed thing. I bowled hard and got my strike fine. Besides, the cigarettes I smoke are very low-yield."

"You're just rationalizing a dangerous habit you don't want to give up. You bowl any way you want to, son, but when it comes to that little boy of yours, you'd better make damn sure you'll be around for him."

"Jeez, Dad, let's change the subject, all right?" Chuck picked up his ball and assumed his stance.

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