Bowling for Heads
By Chris Tepedino
Two ogres walked into a bowling alley and took seats at the bar opposite the lanes. From far away they looked identical. They had identical green, warty skin and identical tufts of black hair and identical ways of slumping over the bar counter as if they carried a great weight on their shoulders. The lone difference between them was a large bag that rested near the feet of the ogre on the left. The fabric of the bag was satin and it was brown in color and the ogre on the right kept sneaking glances at the bag. When they received their beers, the ogre on the right tapped his mug on the counter and looked at his counterpart.
“Big bag you have there,” he said.
The ogre on the left nodded. “A big bag it is.”
“What’s in it?”
“Surely you mean meat.”
The ogre on the right stared at his counterpart, then burst out laughing. “If they’re genuine heads, surely they’re worth something. I’ll pay you for them. They can go with my collection.”
The ogre on the left did not smile. “Heads, as you know, are earned. I cannot sell them.”
“A bet then.” The ogre placed a hand under his chin. “How about one game on the lanes. If you win, I sell you my services for three months as a hunter. If I win, I get the heads.”
“I am a hunter.”
“What do you hunt?”
“Anything you ask for.”
The ogre on the left nodded. They shook hands and proceeded to the lanes.
“I must warn you—I’m an excellent bowler,” the ogre on the right said.
“As long as your skills equal your hunting prowess.”
The ogre on the right laughed. He was full of mirth tonight.
They bowled and the game was tight. By the last frame, each ogre had an equal score. The ogre on the right bowled first. He bowled two strikes and a nine. The only way the other ogre was to beat him would have been to gain three strikes in the final frame. He gained two strikes but only amounted an eight. The final pin spun and spun but stayed upright. The ogre on the right had won. He held out his hand, expecting the brown satin bag.
The ogre on the left obliged. He then finished his beer and left.
After, the victorious ogre chuckled to himself and rubbed his palms together. “Let’s see, let’s see, let’s see,” he said. He made himself wait a final second just for suspense, then opened the bag.
In the bag was a pile of human heads, all blonde haired, all of different ages. There was a little girl head and a little boy head and an older woman head and an older man head and even an elderly woman head with wrinkles on her cheeks.
The ogre’s mouth dropped open.
“I thought he meant meat.”
Then he heard the sirens and saw the flashing blue-red lights outside the bowling alley. He whirled around but the other ogre had vanished. He looked down at the bag of heads, looked toward the door, looked back at the bag of heads and started to run.
Stop! The officer screamed. The ogre stopped.
As they handcuffed him, he tried to explain: the other ogre was close by if they wanted to catch the real killer. But the police officers just laughed and threw him in the cop car. As they drove him away, all the ogre could think about was the other ogre’s response to his every question:
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Chris Tepedino is a speculative fiction writer currently selling mattresses in Memphis, TN. His other works have been published in magazines such as SNM Horror Magazine and 69 Flavors of Paranoia.
Labels: Chris Tepedino