Bowling Like A Hunter

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I was bowling with a competitive business executive, racecar driver, and hunter. All four of us had demonstrated significant wins in our life and had benefitted greatly from our efforts. While we all knew that bowling was not our strong suit, no one wanted to lose.

When I say wasn’t our strong suit, I mean we struggled to break a score of 100.

Everyone’s first frame was dismal. By the second frame, the business executive got the first rare strike. He set the tone for everyone’s desire. But the hunter’s ball found the gutter all too easily while the rest of us tallied our pins with every attempt.

By the fourth frame, the hunter finally got a significant amount of pins down and announced that while he couldn’t win, he decided to set a steady pace to hit a score of 100. The rest of us took solace in his lowered expectation and engaged in a pursuit to surpass his trivial goal. We knew who the loser was going to be. Now we had to discover which of us would rise to the winner’s circle.

The executive’s score zipped ahead of us, causing the racecar driver to try different grips and techniques. Once he found the right groove, he was too far behind to catch up.

I worked hard to keep up with the executive, but he gained 1-3 pins over me in each frame. I couldn’t do a thing to exceed his play, but I pressed forward, knowing that the pressure of the win might cause the executive to choke. And if he choked enough times, I could find myself as the winner. But that’s not how things turned out.

The hunter had continued his methodical approach. By the 8th frame, the executive felt the pressure rise as the hunter got within less than a few pins of his score. With his lead dwindling, the pressure impacted the executive’s game. He choked twice and lost the lead.

The hunter achieved his goal of breaking 100 points with a final score of 104. The executive came in at 98. I reached 94. And, the video scoring screen turned off before I could see the racecar driver’s loss.

We, who had laughed at the measly goal of 100 pins, couldn’t reach that minimum. But the one man who focused on making every frame count in achieving his realistic goal was honored with the win. He proved that no matter how fast we are, how good we troubleshoot, or chase after bragging rights, the sure-footed steps of a humble man will always prevail.

Copyright © 2022 by CJ Powers

Sammy Shark: Unlikely Friends

Sammy Shark darts in and around the rock formations with excitement. Today he gets to leave the family’s grotto for the first time. His smile grows wide. The sides of his mouth hurt. He struggles to wait a minute longer. It’s time to make new friends.

Mama shark swims up to Sammy and says, “Be careful, sweetheart. Not everyone will want to play with you.

“But why not,” questions Sammy. “You say I have a precious smile.”

“Sweetie, some sea creatures have had experiences that make them see things differently,” says Mama. “Making friends is hard. We share a little about ourselves, then learn a little about them. Some fish don’t have the patience to learn.”

“I understand, Mama.” With that comment, Sammy swims off.

Sammy spots a school of clownfish and swims to them. They become motionless and stare at him. To be polite, Sammy smiles. The fish scatter in all directions. “I guess they don’t have the patience to learn about me,” says Sammy.

Sammy swoops in and around rock formations and comes upon rainbow fish. The fish shiver and shake when they see him.

“How do you do,” says Sammy with a big smile. The fish swim off in different directions.

One of the cute little fish swims upward. Sammy notices a wide net headed toward the little guy. Sammy swims upward to warn him.

A nearby crab trembles as he watches Sammy chase after the little fish. “Poor fishy is about to become someone’s lunch,” says Charlie crab.

The little fish glances back and sees Sammy Shark headed straight for him. He turns up his speed, oblivious to the net moving his way. Suddenly the little guy is caught in the crowded net with hundreds of fish. The netting presses hard against his little body as it continues dragging in more fish. His pain is intense.

Sammy swims away disappointed. After all, the little fishy chose to ride in a net instead of getting to know him.

Weaving back and forth, Sammy swims deeper into the water. He spots Charlie but doesn’t bother to smile. He glides past him.

“That’s it?” asks Charlie Crab. “You’re just going to give up?”

Sammy swims around and faces the crab.

“Hi Mr. Crab, I’m Sammy. I was trying to make a friend and even smiled. But no one has the patience to learn how I can be a good friend.”

“Oh, it’s not patience they need,” says Charlie. “They don’t understand how your pearly whites can help them.”

“I don’t understand, Mr….”

“Call me Charlie. They don’t know if you are a friend or foe. Your teeth are big and sharp enough to hurt them.”

“My Mama told me their experiences might stop them from getting to know me,” says Sammy with a tear forming in his eye. “I don’t know what to do. The little guy seemed more interested in taking a ride with other fish.”

“That’s no ride,” says Charlie. Those fish were trapped to become someone’s dinner.”

Sammy perks up. “I’ve got to save them.” Sammy puts his strong tail fin to work and speeds toward the net.

The net cuts into the little guy’s belly as it hoists upward—the little rainbow fish shivers as he watches Sammy move toward the net super-fast.

Sammy smiles big and chomps down on the rope. The strands snap, and the little rainbow fish flops out into open waters. He’s free.

“Hi, I’m Sammy.”

“Did you save me to be your lunch?” asks the shaking rainbow fish.

“I saved you because I’m a good friend,” says Sammy.

“Well, don’t you think everyone else could be your friend too?”

Sammy smiles big, spins around, and chomps at more of the netting. Dozens and dozens of fish are freed and swim away. Sammy smiles and turns back to see all of his new friends, but he is alone. Sad, Sammy slowly swims back to the family grotto.

On his way, Charlie calls out to him. “So, Sammy, did you save that little rainbow fish?”

“I saved lots of fish, but no one wants to be my friend.”

“It’s hard to make friends. They need time to learn that your teeth, strength of your tail fin, and the color of your skin don’t make you bad.”

“Mama told me making friends takes patience.”

Sammy shows a slight grin and swims slowly away. But he sees something out of the corner of his eye and turns.

The little rainbow fish swims right up to him. “Hi, I’m Robbie,” says the little guy. “I want to thank you for saving us. My friends are still talking about how you helped us. Do you want to meet my friends?”

Sammy smiles without showing his teeth and nods. The two new friends swim off together.

Copyright ©2021 by CJ Powers

The Spectacle of a Husband

Daniela watched in horror as one of the ropes snapped from her husband’s antique trapeze, forcing her to ponder life without abuse—if she doesn’t save the bastard.

The crowd under the big top shrieked when the artist’s hands slipped to the end of the white rope. Two spotlights locked on Alejandro dangling forty feet above the center ring. Two more spotlights angled on the floor where the disconnected safety net lay.

The ringmaster signaled the clowns to grab the net and hold it taught to lessen Alejandro’s impact of hitting the sawdust-covered concrete floor. In the stands, frightened children were turned from the attraction, but some felt compelled to watch the acrobat’s demise. A few mothers took their children outside.

Daniela scanned the area for a solution, needing to demonstrate an attempt to save him and avoid being frowned upon. She wondered if an elephant’s back might spare him from splattering on the ground. She hustled to the elephant trainer who shook his head.

The clowns got tangled in the stretchy net and drew nervous laughter from the bleachers. Daniela jogged out back to the lion tamer and suggested rolling the parade cage under the trapeze. He pointed across the midway where the broken wheel was propped up next to the timbers keeping the cage level.

Daniela jogged back to the big top. Alejandro was still dangling above. She glared at her abuser, but compassion washed over her. Staying true to herself, she jogged backstage to look for a solution. She stopped next to a water cooler and grinned.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” shouted the ringmaster. “Welcome to the center ring, Daniela, the strongest woman in the world.”

The confused crowd gave a smattering of applause. Daniela walked in holding a small paper cup with water splashing over its edges. Silence fell under the big top.

“The great Alejandro will perform his new, death-defying, high-diving act from a height of forty feet and land in the water held by the strongest woman in the world.”

Daniela encircled the point underneath Alejandro. She lifted the water cup high and signaled she was ready.

Alejandro rotated his body to see the expression on every face before letting go. This would be the greatest feat in circus history or make headlines as the dumbest stunt resulting in death. He was ready.

Releasing his grip, Alejandro fell like a dagger headed toward his wife.

Alejandro snapped his body horizontally. His back hit the cup of water. Daniela swung her arms, squatted, and released, sending Alejandro sideways across the floor. His feet hit the center ring, popped him upright with his hands high in the air. He received a great ovation and bowed. Alejandro extended his hand to his wife for a second bow. She took his hand in hers and bowed. It felt like their early years with her heart filled with hope.

The circus sold out the next day when the newspaper headlines read: “Strong Woman and Acrobat Astound All.”

Copyright © 2021 by CJ Powers