The Comeback

Translated by Susan Lemprière

Anyways, can’t say we didn’t give it to ‘em, those bastards! You should’ve seen ‘em, Mitch, when Louie drove the final nail ‘n their coff’n. That sure shut ‘em up! Unbelievable! Un-be-leeve-a-ble! We were so goddamn happy that Louie, he grabb’d me and lift’d me straight up ‘n the air, just like Louis Cyr the Strong Man. ‘Cept Loulou, he’s 5 foot 2, so comparin’ ‘im to big Louis Cyr…

Yep, we slamm’d ‘em! Ah, vengeance is sweet, that’s for sure! Sweet as honey, douce comme d’la mousse de Molson, eh Mitch? Ha, ha! … rhymes an ev’rythin’! Yeh, sure feels good to put ‘em ‘n their place. Hey, and ya know what? They play in these stupid one-piece things, the fags! No kiddin’! Suits real tight ‘round the thighs, all purple with stripes ‘cross the shoulders. Makes ‘em look like grape popsicles!

Buncha snobs! Losers! But you gotta hand it to ‘em, they sure can throw straight for such assholes — s‘cuse my language, Mitch! Ya know, it’s the first time we ever beat ‘em. Yep! Been ‘n the Pros, what, ten years now? Can ya believe it? We beat Benoît Quillard and Paul Libéré-Chantelois! C’est pas d’la p’tite bière ça! Speakin’ awhich, Mitch, gimme me another beer! Makes you thirsty, victory does!

Yeh, we sure taught ‘em a lesson they’ll never forget! And’s even sweeter ‘cause was them came lookin’ for a fight. That’ll teach ‘em to go around lordin’ it over everybody, pissin’ everybody off, like they’ve been doin’ their whole goddamn lives, those losers! Yep! Hey Mitch, remember when we were kids in high school? Nah, I guess ya don’t ‘cause you was older, paid no attention to the litt’ler kids. Anyways, they useta call Louie and me fat ass. Bouboules, grosses ballounes, every name you could thinka, all kindsa names, ti-cul, gros-cul. An’ plenty ‘a other ones that ain’t fit to be repeat’d in polite company. Every day, never stopp’d.

Once, Louie there, he was admirin’ the lovely Françoise at recess. She ‘ad the most beautiful set ‘a melons ya ever saw, even at that age, so ya can see why Louie was lookin’. Her ‘n her little short shorts… flashin’ ‘im a great big smile, ‘cause she knew what that did to guys, seein’ her like that.

So big Paul Libéré, he start’d beatin’ up on him, right ‘n fronta everyone. And just to humiliate ‘im, he said all fancy like, “A piece of shit like yourself has no right to look at a bee-u-ti-ful woman like Françoise, so go and get off on a grosse laide like yourself, least then you’ll get lucky.” Or somethin’ to that affect. Louie was on the ground, arms over his face tryin’ to protect ‘imself, but the asshole just kept kickin’ ‘im up ‘gainst the brick wall.

After that, every time Quillard saw us ‘n the hall, he’d give us a kick ‘n the ass. Why? No reason. ‘Cause he thought us too short or too ugly or too slow, or whatever. An’ the two of ‘em, struttin’ their stuff in fronta Françoise. And Sonya my ex. Anyways, said we spoil’d their view with our big fat asses. Guess they were right, ya know, cause Louie there, he ain’t real svelte, that’s for sure. Me neither. Them in their fancy new suits, cruisin’ the chicks, smellin’ all pretty.

But was that our fault? When it comes right down to it, just gotta admit that life ain’t super fair. That Paul Libéré-Chantelois — what the hell kinda fag name is that ! — he married Françoise just two months after they open’d up a hair salon together. Only seventeen years old! His dad gave ‘em the down payment. But, ya know, they deserve each other. Just sucks that Louie, he goes there to get his hair cut. Been goin’ for fifteen years now, sez ’e likes it when Françoise leans her boobs up ‘gainst the backa ‘is neck and head. But Chantelois there, Françoise is two-timin’ ‘im, that’s for sure! What with everythin’ they’ve been sayin’ about her. Looks like she ain’t real satisfied, eh? … Problem is, every time Loulou goes there he comes back more miser’ble. It’s torture! Least now, after us winnin’ he can go an’ brag ‘bout it!

Yeh, and that’s not even talkin’ ‘bout how that Quillard bastard stole my Sonya! My wife! Seven years together! The Thursday night guys sure talk’d enough ‘bout that one! Leavin’ like that, makin’ a scene ‘n fronta everyone, and durin’ a match too! Christ! Can’t get much worse for a guy! But, hey, they’re good together, two big-shot laaw-yers. Said she want’d to be happy, that she was doin’ it for the kids so they could have a better life. What, livin’ ‘n a big house suppos’d to make ‘em happier? That’s a buncha BS! They miss their daddy, that’s what!

Ya know, ‘n life everyone’s suppose’ ta be equal, but there’s two big injustices in this world: money and good looks. ‘Cause they don’t depend on you and me, they depend on whoever brought us into this world. It ain’t right, but that’s the way it is, eh Mitch? Anyways, gimme another beer Mitch! Une autre p’tite frette, one more for the road!

But those two, they musta known that one day they’d get what was comin’ to ‘em. Yeh, they musta known since Sec. 3, when they shov’d me down those stairs. Roll’d all the way down, from the first floor to the basement — ya know, where they had the lockers for Sec. 1, 2 an’ 3. ‘Cept this time, it was a kid on crutches they shov’d, a kid who couldn’t fight back, his leg in a cast, just walkin’ down the stairs mindin’ his own bus’ness. So that time, Johnnie, he scream’d that he’d get even. Shouda seen me — face cover’d ‘n blood, screamin’ like a lunatic. One day, they’d be sorry! Like they say, a promise is a promise. Chose promise, chose due. And it came due yesterday! The waitin’ is over.

Back then, everybody want’d to be on their side, ‘an you can see why. They dominat’d the league for years, just like they did the school yard. But no more! ‘Cause that’s what happens, Mitch, when you screw people over. That’s what happens! I’ll tell you the story…we were playin’ doubles, the best four outta seven. They were ahead. Pretty soon it was three games to one. Already beatin’ ‘em one game was somethin’, the first time we’d ever beat ‘em! That gave us courage. It was pretty near all over for us. But then Louie play’d a near perfect game — 261 points. So it was 3-2. Then those bastards realiz’d that maybe they gonna lose. You gotta understand — a comeback like that, ain’t every day you see that. Yep, a comeback! Ya don’t know the story, Mitch? Well I’m gonna tell ya the best damn story you ever heard! I swear on my granma’s grave! The best goddamn story you ever heard!

So Louie there, he was on fire! He pull’d off a 298, unbelievable throwin’! Strike after strike after strike! So our score was 552. Man we play’d hard! It was too much for ‘em, though they can do it, they can throw a 300. They ain’t done it tons a times, but Quillard, I seen ‘im ‘do it ‘least four times, and the other guy ‘bout twice.

So Mitch, une dernière p‘tite bière, s’il vous plaît! So I can finish my story.

It was 3-3 and they start’d out bad. Real poche! You know how it is, things can get real stressful, real quick! You shoulda seen me, got four strikes in a row at the starta the game. Man, that put so much pressure on ‘em! They’d been lookin’ pretty pleas’d with ‘emselves, in their purple suits with Quillons-les tous! written across the back. Huh! Puttin’ that joke on the backa their shirts like that, how stupid is that! And did you know it was that two-timin’ Sonya who embroider’d that on there? In gold thread too, so goddamn pretentious!… Ya gotta say, havin’ a name like Quillard in bowlin’, that’s kinda like bein’ call’d Joe Stiff in a funeral home, always know what he does for a livin’ eh? Remember, Mitch, back when the Expos play’d the Atlanta Braves? There was that player call’d Dave Justice. What a name! Got respect everywhere he went. The Braves couldn’t lose ‘cause they had Justice on their side.

Anyways, don’t ask why, but Louie, he start’d throwin’ gutter balls in the middle a the game. It happens, nobody’s perfect. We play’d for shit, and then Paul threw three strikes so they caught up on the last square. Then it was Loulou’s turn, we were down just ten points. Louie always plays fourth, ‘cause he likes to take his time, conc’ntrate on his throws. Well, he took more than ‘his sweet time this time! He took his favourite ball and rub’d it good, he count’d the steps to his swing, forwards then backwards, he visualized everythin’ possible to visualize…and he ended up throwing… a 4–10. A goddamn impossible split! We were down just two points. Yep, ça prenait la réserve! Louie had to dig down real deep. He rubb’d his ball like it was some kinda magic lamp. He was sweatin’ like a pig, while Quillard there, he stood there all casual like, nose up in the air, pretendin’ like he couldn’t give a shit, like anyways idiots like Loulou are always chokeurs. The other loser, Libéré-Chantelois, was gettin’ all worried, and not just a little! He musta known that diggin’ deep, that’s Louie’s speciality. That Louie might even pull it off with that magic spin a ‘is.

So it all came down to this… Louie thought his hands were too sweaty, so he put his ball back and went to dry ‘em off. Chantelois, he decid’d to take advantage of this — the asshole went an’ sneez’d on Louie’s ball. Loulou saw him do it but he didn’t say a word. Just stare’d ‘im straight in the eye, challengin’ ‘im like, then return’d to the floor lookin’ determin’d. Didn’t even wipe off his ball! Just took it, all slimy an’ cover’d in snot. Got into startin’ position. Then, without even a look round, he cried, “Game over!!” and threw the best damn spin on the planet! The ball skimm’d ‘long the gutter, then it cross’d o’er to the 4, and then the 4 flew ‘cross and hit the 10. The place went dead. Dead silent. It was 401 to 401. Just one throw left. Louie was hypnotizin’. We all watch’d ‘im wait for his ball to come back , watch’d ‘im rub it clean, watch’d him get ready, watch’d him throw… it was a pretty crappy throw, but hey, it didn’t matter! ‘Cause we won by 3 points!

It suck’d that those big snobs pretend’d like they couldn’t give a shit. Like it wasn’t a catastrophe. But believe me, they deserve to be miserable! Yep, Mitch, now we’re at the toppa the league! There’s no one better than Louie and Johnnie, the legendary pair that beat Quillard Libéré! Now everyone’s gonna know who’s on top. Yep! It’s written on the board at the front — Louis et John, grands gagnants des Pros du jeudi. Your wife, she wrote it there, in big fat bright blue letters on the green board. It’s gonna be right in their face every time they come bowlin’. It’s payback time. Now it’s their turn to suffer.

Susan Lemprière is a writer and translator. She has a graduate diploma in translation from Concordia University and works professionally as a translator. She has a particular love for Québec literature and oral storytelling.

Sébastien Roldan has published short stories in Biscuit chinois and XYZ. He is nearing completion of his PhD in literary studies at Université du Québec à Montréal and Université Paris Ouest-Nanterre. His thesis examines the ties between literature and philosophy in French naturalist works from the late 1800s (e.g., Zola and Maupassant).