BOWLIN' FOR A BRUISIN'                                                     
by Tim Wellman                                                             
PREGAME COMMENTARY:                                                        
"This is probably THE single most stupidist thing you've ever talked me    
into," Xena said as she slipped her muscular arms into the polyester       
orange and black shirt.  "And who the hell is Joe, anyway?"                
Gabrielle straightened her breasts, using the window glass reflection as a
mirror.  "Joe?"                                                            
"Yeah, our shirts say 'Eat At Joes' on them."                              
"Well, actually, Joe died," Salmonius said.  "Some unfortunate incident   
involving 5 aces and 4 Romans.  I got a deal on the shirts."               
"I think they look great," the bard said, jumping up and down slightly to 
see her body bounce in the glass.                                          
"After the outfits you've worn the last few years, you apparently think    
EVERYTHING looks great," Xena mumbled.                                     
"Look, don't start, OK?  Let's just have some fun tonight instead of       
constantly bitching about every single detail!"  Gabrielle stopped         
herself.  "Gez, sorry, I gotta stop listening to those assertiveness tapes
you bought."                                                               
Xena nodded and mentally kicked herself for not being a better reader when
she picked up the tapes... assert, insert, BIG difference!  "Well, it's    
still a stupid idea, that's all I'm saying... going balling against Herc, 
Iolous, Joxer, and Aphrodite, just to raise a little money for the         
'Children Of Ares Orphanage Home'.                                         
Salmonius coughed.  "Uh, it's called 'bowling', Xena."                     
"Balling, bowling, whatever... I hate any game with a ball in it."  She    
quickly turned to Gabrielle and snarled, causing the bard to lose her      
desire to remind Xena of certain games on certain nights around certain   
campfires which had, for lack of better judgment, began, continued, and   
ended with a ball.  "OK, now, someone refresh my memory... the object is   
to take this rock and throw it at some sticks... whoever knocks down the  
most sticks wins, that about it?"                                          
Gabrielle rolled her eyes.  "Xena, you're missing the fine nuances of the 
game... the precise turn of a wrist, the strategy of competition..."       
"The massive amounts of alcohol involved," Salmonius chimed in.            
"Hey, sorry I'm late, I had to stop on the way and help several old ladies
across several streets!"  Callisto skipped into the room, twisting her     
long blonde locks in her fingers, chewing gum and wearing her bowling      
shirt, huge angelic wings poking out of two slits in the cloth.            
"Oh good, god's here," Xena said.                                          
"Oh Xena, you're just soooo funny!" Callisto said, tweaking Xena's cheek. 
"BTW, who's Joe?"                                                          
Xena pointed to Salmonius.                                                 
"Joe is dead," he said.                                                    
"Oh, too bad?  How dead?  Like, 'oops, I have no heartbeat' dead, or dead  
like 'oops, I've decayed all over myself!'?"                               
"Dead like 'oops, I've screwed over some Italians, now I have no head'     
"Ah.. well still, I'm good at this resurrection stuff, you know," Callisto
said with a bouncy smile.  "It's fun!  Damn, I'm soooo good it's scary,    
huh Xena?"                                                                 
"If you don't shut up, you'll be resurrecting my sword handle from         
"OK, OK, enough chitchat," the bard said, unrolling a scroll.  "I've been 
reading up on this game.  There are ten 'pins' at the end of a 'lane'...  
the object is to take a ball... shut up Xena... and roll it down the       
alley, and knock over as many pins as possible in two tries... if you      
knock them all over in one try, you get another turn!"                     
"If I don't knock any over, can I go home?" Xena said.                     
"Nooo... if you don't knock any over you'll be going home ALONE!"          
Xena looked a little panicked.  "Ah, well then, let's knock over some      
pins, then!"                                                               
"Listen, do you think we can beat Herc and his team?  Cause I know a guy   
giving pretty good odds against us right now, I could make a killing with 
a good bet!" Salmonius rubbed his hands together.                          
"Is that a killing, like, 'oops, my heart has stopped beating', or like    
'oops, my heart was just eaten by fishes because I'm at the bottom of the 
lake wearing cement shoes'?" Gabrielle said.                               
"Good point!" Salmonius said.                                              
"My wings are soooo pretty!!!"                                             
"SHUT THE F*CK UP!" everyone else said in unison.                          
"Let's get to some serious butt-kickin!"  Gabrielle started through the    
door to the lanes and the rest followed, Callisto making several attempts 
to get her wings through until Xena planted a foot on her back and forced 
her through.                                                               
"By the way, how'd I get on an all-girl team, and Aphrodite get on their  
all-guy team?" Salmonius pondered.                                         
"Because each team needed a complete idiot," Xena grunted.                 
SET'EM UP:                                                                 
"Why is it, with my wings, I look like an angel, but Xena, when you had    
wings you looked like an underwear model?"                                 
"OK, OK!"  Xena stepped up close to Callisto.  "I don't like you!   I've   
never liked you!  Gabrielle said, oh, Callisto can ball..."                
"Bowl," Gabrielle said.                                                    
"Whatever," Xena continued.  "So, I said, OK, fine, I can put up with her 
for a night.  But listen, blondie, just keep your distance, got that?"     
Callisto smiled and kissed Xena on the nose.  "You got it, Xenapoo!"       
Xena's face flashed several shades of red.  "Is that a real tan, or that   
stuff in a bottle?"                                                        
"There they are!" Joxer shouted out from across the room.  "It's about     
"Welcome ladies and gentlemen, warlords and victims, to the first annual  
Athenian Bowl-a-Thon and Monster Chariot Show!"  A hush went over the      
crowd as the announcer began the ceremonies.  "Now, we'll try to keep this
brief since over half of the contestants are dead."  There was a rimshot   
by a monkey playing a small drumset in the corner.  "Haha, but I wanta     
tell you, it's better than playing Vegas, those people are just the living
dead." Another rimshot.  A cricket chirping sounded like a bass drum, the 
room was so quiet.  "All righty then... anywho, we have two great teams    
here tonight... unfortunately they're both teams of horses, so we're stuck
with these losers!"  Silence, even the monkey.  "OK... wearing the         
beautiful orange and black, and apparently close friends of Joe's, is Team
Xena!  Take a bow, ladies!"  Salmonius curtsied.  "And their opponents,   
the team that needs no introduction, and not just because I lost the       
notes, wearing the yellow and pink, Team Hercules!"  Herc curtsied,        
Aphrodite flashed her breasts.  "Now remember, the object is to win the    
game!  Yeah!" Chirp chirp.  "Gez, I gave up a great booking in Crete to do
this... anyway, play the damned game, I quit!"  The crowd broke out into   
thunderous applause.  The monkey began packing up.                         
FRAME, THE I:                                                              
"OK we drew straws to see who goes first..." Gabrielle glanced over at     
Xena who had a pile of broken and stomped straws at her feet... "but, Xena
goes first.  Then me, since I always follow Xena wherever she goes..." she
glanced back to Xena, hoping the sentiment had reached her... Xena was     
scratching herself as she opened a bottle of mead with her teeth.          
"Anyway, then Callisto, then Salmonius, you bring up the rear."            
"If you say anything about my rear, angel or not, I'll bitch-slap you,"    
Callisto said warmly.                                                      
"What, who me?  Never crossed my mind," Salmonius said with a fake smile.  
"Let's get this show on the road!"  Xena belched.  "We're gonna kick you  
fairy-boys asses!"                                                         
She grabbed a ball from the rack, stepped up to the line, stepped across  
it, glanced at Gabrielle, then tippie-toed back into the legal zone.       
"Just play, goofball!" Gabrielle said with a chuckle.                      
Xena eyed the pins, then aimed the ball, then let it go.  It bounced       
across two lanes and killed the monkey, who was apparently not quite fast 
enough in packing up.  "Oops!  Sorry, thumb got caught in the hole."       
"You *have* done this before, right Xena?" Salmonius said.                 
"What, got my thumb caught?  That's kinda personal," she smirked.   "I was 
all city-state back in high school."  She picked up another ball and       
gently rolled it down the lane... it eventually arrived, nudging one pin  
"You smoke a lot of dope in highschool, dearie?" Aphrodite said.           
"OK, can I go again?" Xena said.                                           
"No way, sweet cheeks, it's our turn now!"                                 
Xena moped back to the table and plopped down.  "Well, we're winning!"     
"OK, OK, no harm done," Gabrielle said, polishing her personal ball she    
had purchased from the renowned ball-maker, Ben Waugh, on a recent trip to
the orient.                                                                
"Well, it's all for charity," Callisto said, pruning her wings.  "What     
does it matter who wins."                                                  
"Listen, miss 'angel of ick!', I don't like to lose, got it?" Xena         
STRIKE!  Aphrodite jumped up and down and high-fived the rest of her team!
"I'm soooo good!  I love any game that has a ball in it!"                  
Xena snarled.  "I HATE to lose!"                                           
STRIKE!  "Woohoo, I'm hot tonight boys!"                                   
"Don't worry, Xena, as always, it's up to me to get us back on track."     
Gabrielle walked toward the line as Xena chugged down the rest of her      
mead.  The bard closed one eye, aimed her ball, then smoothly released it,
turned her back to the pins smiling, then nodded as she heard the sound of
ten pins falling over.  STRIKE!  "I got's skills!"                         
Callisto jumped up and hugged Gabrielle.  "Oh, that was sooo great!"       
"Uh, thanks," Gabrielle said, spitting out feathers.  A small man on a     
donkey returned her ball.  "OK, see, the whole thing is to 'be the         
ball'...," she boasted as she turned around.  STRIKE!                      
"That was luck, tattoo girl!" Iolous shouted.  Just watch this!  As he     
wound up and threw the ball toward the pins, his hand got caught and he   
went flying along with the ball.  He landed with a thud about half the way
to the pins.                                                               
"OK, he crossed the line, he gets beheaded, right?" Xena shouted.          
Iolous hopped up.  "No!"  He walked back to the line, where Hercules       
grabbed his ball and pulled until his hand popped out.  (This portion of  
the story was brought to you by Galious' Bathhouse, where bending over for
the soap is a way of life!)                                                
"OK, come on, miss it again!" Xena shouted.                                
"You know, you're not being very sportsmanlike," Callisto said.            
"Would it be more sportsmanlike if I tore your wings off and rammed them  
up your..."                                                                
"Xena!" Gabrielle scolded.  "Remember, we talked about this!"              
............. time passed ................                                 
FRAME, THE II:                                                             
Homer graduates.                                                           
FRAME, THE III:                                                            
"OK, we're not losing that badly," Callisto said as she picked up her pink
ball with Hello Kittie stickers on it.                                     
"How do you know?  None of us knows how to keep score!" Salmonius said.    
"I think they're several thousand points ahead... no wait, 7 points.       
Yeah, OK, that's better," he said as Gabrielle turned the score card       
"Oh, darn," the angelic blonde sighed as another ball went into the        
gutter.  "I guess I'm not very good, huh?"  She cocked her head.   "Been a 
while since anyone's said that about me."  Just for a brief moment her     
eyes seemed to glow bright blue.  "I think you bring out the best in me,   
............. time passed ................                                 
FRAME, THE IV:                                                             
Jesus was born.                                                            
FRAME, THE V:                                                              
"That's a three for me this frame," Salmonius said.                        
Xena was nursing her 5th mead.  "Where did I go wrong, I mean, really,     
I've always tried to do the right things... well, ok, there was a time     
when things went a little awry..."                                         
Callisto smiled.  "A little... like murdering my whole family."  She       
forced a bigger smile.  "But hey, we're all over that now, right?  All's   
"Have I ever told you blonde isn't your color?"                            
"Now Xena, be nice!" Gabrielle said.                                       
"Have I ever told you your eyes look like you're wearing fake color        
contacts?"  Callisto gasped.  "Oops, that was mean, wasn't it... sorry     
............. time passed ................                                 
FRAME, THE VI:                                                             
Caesar invades Egypt.                                                      
FRAME, THE VII:                                                            
Xena was curled up in the corner in a fetal position sucking on her eighth
mead like a pacifier.  "What is it now, 100 points behind?"                
"No, no, just 87," Salmonius said.                                         
STRIKE!  Gabrielle strutted back to the table.  "Well, at least I'm        
kicking ass!"  She looked around.  "Where's Callisto?"                     
"Oh, sorry," Callisto said, walking back through the door.                 
"What the hell happened to you?!?!" the bard yelled.  Xena raised her head
and stared through blurry eyes.                                            
Callisto stood there, spots of mud on her white gowns, one wing badly      
ruffled, her hair mussed and fuzzed up.  "Oh, I fell down."                
"You fell down?" Salmonius said.                                           
"Yes, you little worm of a man, I fell down!"                              
Salmonius backed away.                                                     
Xena frowned.  "Waaa do talkin bout, Call... Callis... blondie!"           
"Remind me to cut you off at 5 meads next time," Gabrielle mumbled.        
The warrior raised herself to her hands and knees, tried to stand, then   
simply crawled over to Callisto.  "You bbbeeen in a fight!"                
"Well, the barmaid was rude.  Where's my ball?" Callisto said, stepping    
over Xena.                                                                 
"And you not wearin panties, eiffer..."                                    
............. time passed ................                                 
FRAME, THE VIII"                                                           
Sappho has a slumber party.                                                
FRAME, THE IX:                                                             
Callisto finished drawing mustaches on all the Hello Kittie stickers.      
Xena had managed to raise herself to the table and sit down.               
"You know, it's fun getting out with the girls now and then," Callisto     
said.  "No offence Salmonius."                                             
"None taken."                                                              
"Just let my hair down, have some fun."  She sighed.  "Fun... hey Xena,   
you know how we have fun in heaven?"  Xena mumbled something obscene.      
Callisto grabbed a half-empty bottle of mead and chugged it.  "No, we      
paint and sing.  It's such fun... painting and singing... singing and      
painting... guess what we paint!  No... angels... good angels... and we    
sing songs about angels, too... painting and singing... 24/7..."           
STRIKE!  "Waahoo!  I've got a perfect game going!" Gabrielle walked back  
to the table, lifted Xena's head by her hair and planted a big kiss on her
lips.  "That's for later, baby!"                                           
"What I wouldn't give for..." Callisto stopped.                            
Xena looked at Callisto, her head still being held up by her hair.         
"Sounds pretty damned boring in heaven."                                   
"Callisto, you're up," the bard said.                                      
Callisto held her hand out and sent a flaming fireball toward the pins,   
exploding them all.  "I believe that's a strike," she said calmly.         
"You're right, Xena, heaven is boring..."                                  
The amassed crowd began to scatter, screaming and yelling and holding      
their heads in panic.  A typical Saturday night at the alley.              
"Callisto!" Gabrielle shouted.  "Bad angel!  Bad angel!"                   
Xena sat up.  "Now we're having fun!"                                      
"I've missed you Xena!" Callisto hissed.                                   
Gabrielle backed away.                                                     
"Hey, you guys gonna play or not!" Joxer yelled.  Another fireball caught  
him right in the chest, reducing him to embers.                            
"Saved me the trouble," Xena said.                                         
............. time passed ................                                 
FRAME, THE X:                                                              
Reagan is elected president.                                               
ADDING UP THE SCORE:                                                       
Team Xena stumbled over the burning ashes of what was once a beautifully  
art deco designed building.  "Smoldering ruins suit you so much better     
than fluffy white clouds," Xena said.  As she spoke, she watched as        
Callisto's left wing dropped off.                                          
"Yeah, well, maybe I should switch from paints to charcoal, what do you    
"This is bad, really bad!" Salmonius worried.  "They're gonna charge us   
for this, I just know it.  This is some legacy to leave for Joe, I tell    
"Hey, I should get a trophy or something!  I would have gotten a perfect   
score... well, if the lane hadn't have burst into flames," Gabrielle said.
"So, how much did we raise for the orphans?"  Xena smirked.                
"Well, after you and Callisto robbed all the audience, those sons of Ares 
will be living high for years to come!"                                    
"Oh great, just what we need, more gods of war!" Xena said.                
"Actually, that's not such a bad future to look forward to," Callisto      
mused, as her right wing fell off.                                         
"Ah, I love you guys!" Salmonius said.  "Group hug!"