Saturday, October 15, 2011

Random Passage from SPARKS

Here's a section from Chapter 8 of SPARKS, which will be out via Flux early next year or late this one. Here, the "holy quest" takes Debbie, Emma and TIm to Mid-Iowa Lanes, a local bowling alley where lots of holy quests seem to take them:

The inside of Mid-Iowa Lanes smelled like cigarettes and shellac, and the walls were covered with paintings of guys with mustaches holding bowling balls. Everything in the place was a shade of brown, orange or yellow, except for the glowing pink and blue neon lights that were set up here and there. There was a bar where people were drinking -- and it wasn't even four o'clock. Speakers in the ceiling were blasting “Don’t Stop Believing” way too loudly.

"I never realized how dirty this place looked," I said.

"Beautiful, isn't it?" asked Emma, as we stepped inside. "A place unsullied by the present standards of design."

“Or cleanliness,” I said.

"They haven't even changed the music since about 1989," said Tim, reverently.

"That's the beauty of a bowling alley," said Emma. "There's nothing classy, modern, or sterile about these places. And wait ’til you see the bowling alley skanks who hang out in the arcade!”

Tim started singing a song about bowling alley skanks to the tune of “Don’t Stop Believing.”

“And we mean ‘skanks’ in the nicest possible way,” said Emma. “They’re good kids.”

We started walking down along the area between the bar and the lanes themselves, and I looked around at the people. There were a whole bunch of guys in ugly shirts bowling. Most looked sort of grimy, even from a distance. There were a lot of comb-overs in evidence.

I wondered why none of these men were at work. It wasn't like there could possibly be that many professional bowlers in suburban Des Moines.

Besides the actual bowlers, there were a handful of people who looked like they were just
hanging around. A few guys in tattered overcoats sat by the bar. Five or six old black guys were lounging by the pool tables, laughing and joking.

Everyone there looked sort of grotesque, like they were covered in a thin layer of cigarette smoke or something, as though Megamart was selling bottled cigarette smoke as a gel, and everyone had smeared themselves with it because they weren’t allowed to smoke in public anymore. Maybe they'd hung around the bowling alley so much that that weird smell got into their skin and was never going to go away.

It was just a bowling alley, but I'm not sure I'd ever seen anything so scary in my life. This was not the sort of crowd I was used to traveling among without being surrounded by the Lisa and
her friends.

There was no sign of Norman or the Fellowship anywhere.

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