“You don’t want this,” Donovan said with a smug grin, towering over Saul.
“Bring it on,” Saul with a confident smile, looking up at Donovan.
“Alright,” Donavan said with a shrug. “Your funeral. Two tickets!”
The lights and loud noises of the carnival filled the autumn air as the two 9 year olds stared each other down.
“Step right up to the line, boys,” the carnival attendant yelled jubilantly. “The objective is…”
“We know what the objective is,” Saul said without breaking eye contact.
“Well then, the winner gets…” the attendant continued.
“Don’t care. Our prize is greater. Winning is the prize,” Donovan said, eyes fixed on Saul.
“All right! Have it your way! Ready? Get set…” The carnival horn blared into the night sky as the boys rushed to the edge and grabbed the tiny rubber basketballs and began to shoot.
“Why are you even doing this,” Donovan asked as he snickered.” You know you’re going to lose.” His hands were steady as he released ball after ball into the basket.
“Keep shooting and show me, wise guy,” Saul said as he maintained the same accuracy.
“Ooh, you kiss your mom with that mouth?”
The two had drawn a crowd of spectators. Even the attendant lost the words to speak at the moment. While fixed on his basket, Donovan noticed that Saul was begging to slow down.
“What’s wrong Saul? You’re tired,” Donovan asked with a chuckle.
“Scoreboard says you’re tired,” Saul shot back.
“Oh, you focused now? You think you’re going to win?”
Donovan would never admit it but, Saul was winning and Donavan was beginning to lose his pace. Drip fell down his cheek. The time was ticking. Donovan decided to act in that moment. “You know…” Donovan said, still managing his buckets, “Mariah says she likes me more than you.”
“What?!” Saul missed the basket completely.
Donovan laughed inside. “Oh, she didn’t tell you=,” he asked coyly.
The buzzer rang as Donovan nailed the final bucket edging the winning lead.
“Saul,” a young girl called behind him.
“Mariah,” Saul answered in return.
“What are you doing here,” she asked him.
“We have a winner,” the attendant said, flabbergasted.
“You know what,” Donovan said sneakily, “give me the prize.” The attendant spun around in his work space and grabbed an overstuffed, pink rabbit. Donovan yanked it out of the attendant’s hand and nearly tripped on his way over to Mariah.
“Here Mariah,” Donovan said with a silly grin on his face. “I got you something.”
Saul’s jaw had dropped to the ground at the display of the gift. His stomach dropped in that moment and he stormed off.
Donovan smirked. How easy this all was. “I’ll see you next time, Saul.”
“Well, if it isn’t the sore loser,” a 15 year old Donovan asked a 15 year old Saul. The sounds of bowling pins echoed in the flat space. “Was beginning to think I was never going to see you again. Of all places, who would’ve thought: bowling,” Donovan said with a scoff.
Saul had chosen silence as he took off his shoes and prepared his bowling pair to be put on properly, barely establishing eye contact.
“So moody,” Donovan continued. “I gotta tell you, I’m glad you went to a different high school. I don’t have to see your pouty, whiny face everyday over Maria.” Saul shook his head.
“Hey Donavan,” Charlie screamed behind him.
“Is that the kid you couldn’t shut up about?”
“Yup. That’s him,” Donovan said, relishing in the memory.
“Well, we play each other,” Charlie said.
“Perfect! Another chance to relive the old days,” Donovan said as he wrapped his wrist with a bandage.
“Donavan, you’ll never guess who’s here,” Jeremy asked out of breath. He had just returned from the parking lot.
“Saul. Yeah, I see him.”
Jeremy squinted in confusion. “What? No. It’s Sasha, the hot girl from the other school.”
Donovan’s eyes lit up. “She’s here?” It was only a moment before his thoughts returned to Donovan. “Well, it looks like I gotta show off.”
“There she is,” Jeremy said, pointing with his eyes. Sasha walked in with elegance as her friends buzzed around her.
“What do you say, Saul,” Donovan asked only as high so Saul could hear. “Best score gets to ask the hot girl out.”
But it wasn’t low enough as a low ‘oooh’ emerged from the crowd.
“Come on,” Donovan pressed. “We’re already playing each other.”
“You guys ready,” Saul’s coach urged.”Let’s go!”
“I don’t need to beat you to win, Donavan,” Saul said to Donovan as he picked up his bowling ball and got his first strike.
The game continued where Donovan and Saul collected strike after strike. Two nearly perfect games and a crowd had formed once again. It had all boiled down to the last frame.
“If you’ll excuse me,” Donovan said boastfully to Saul before turning to Sasha. He twisted on his heels and moved in her direction. “Hey! Hey you! What’s your name?” Sasha moved down the steps and passed Donovan to Saul. “Maybe if I win, we can go… out sometime?” Donovan’s words hovered in uncertainty as Sasha sat down next to Saul and kissed him on the cheek.
Donovan’s heart crumbled and got silent as Sasha whispered in his ear. A pep talk. Saul leapt to his feet and grabbed his ball and knocked out the pins. A standing ovation for a perfect game.
Saul grabbed his belongings and held Sasha’s hand. “Like I said,” Saul said before he left the play area. “I don’t need to beat you to win.”
“Saul, where you going,” his coach asked. “The game is not over.”
“Sure it is, coach,” Saul said with a straight face. “I already won. If he knocks them out, you give me a call.”
Donavan turned to face his last frame. His stomach bottomed out.
“So, no one ever told me what the final score was that day at the bowling alley,” a 27 year old Saul said, approaching his lane that had a circular bullseye next to his nemesis.
“Saul,” Donovan said icily.
“Donovan. You know, it’s interesting we keep running into each other at these competitive outings,” Saul said leisurely.
“You humiliated me.”
“Pardon,” Saul asked, placing his hand on his chest. “You need to let that go. I did.”
“You could’ve told me,” Donovan pleaded.
“I don’t owe you anything,” Saul said, placing his finger square in Donovan’s chest. “You got me when we were kids. I got you. We’re even.”
“I wanted to bash your skull in with that bowling ball,” Donovan said with a growl.
Saul grabbed his bow and arrow and shot the bullseye in the center. “But you didn’t,” Saul said, between his gritted teeth.
Donovan grabbed his bow and shot a bullseye. “You still think you’re better than me, don’t you?”
“Prove me wrong, wise ass.”
Saul focused and shot another bullseye. Donovan did the same. The continued until the arena became silent. The energy wasn’t exciting. It was tempestuous. People began picking up their belongings and leaving before Donovan grabbed a knife from his pocket and pressed it against Saul’s throat.
“Hey!” The head attendant bellowed stopping all activity. “You’re out of here,” he commanded pointing for the two to leave. “Now! Final warning!”
Saul and Donovan begrudgingly gathered the belongings.
“We’re not done yet,” Donovan said, slinging his bag over his back.
“Course not,” Saul said after him.
TO BE CONTINUED