Billy stared. "What happened?"
"Bowled my fingers off."
Cecil lifted his left hand to show the missing two fingers; the stump
of a thumb.
Billy's eyes widened. "Really?"
Cecil shrugged. "Show me and
Antony what you got."
Billy stood and hiked up his jeans,
patched roughly with them iron-on jobs that peel at the edges. He
plugged his fingers neat into the ball, lifted it and did some kinda'
"You got ants in yer pants?"
"Can't help it." The back of
Billy's neck reddened. But he repeated the dance before releasing the
It was a beauty. Dead-on. Knocked them
pins clean over. Billy turned around, grinning.
Cecil took a pull from his sweating
bottle of Coke. "Beginner's luck?"
Billy shook his head. Again, the ball
was true, slamming the pins over, no tentative back-and-forthing
Cecil blinked, but kept his cool in an
admirable way. "Think you can nail them a third time?"
Billy nodded. He repeated the entire
procedure: Pants hiked up. The flapping of the knee patch. The funny
little dance. And then, finally, blessedly, the release.
It seemed an eternity before that ball
made its way down the lane. And then...
"A turkey!" Billy shouted,
the knee patch flapping in celebration.
"I think we have a place for you
on the team," Cecil said, as a single drop of sweat rolled down
the side of his bottle and traced its way onto the table.
Billy beamed but Cecil looked sad: He
was missing his fingers, blown clean off when he was dynamiting a
mountaintop for the coal beneath.
They named the hole in the ground for
Cecil, but I don't think that impressed him all that much. Now, I
suppose, those fingers are a part of that empty mountaintop, bone and
flesh claimed by rock.
Billy still dynamites for the coal
Every day as he heads out to work, he
promises his wife he'll be back.
"I hope so," she replies.
I do, too, a' course.
Labels: flash fiction, Trifecta Writing Challenge