Last week got away from me and before I knew it, Friday had come and gone with nothing from Cami.
I’ll try not to let it happen again!
Curve Ball, Chapter 6
The three middle-aged women enjoying laser tag are based on my friends Barbara, Monica, and me when we tried it. We had a blast, just like these women.
Paths wound through a maze. Cami made her way along, going slow until her eyes adjusted.
“What do I do now?” She twisted her head to ask Grant, but no one was there. Her harness vibrated. “What was that?” She heard a giggle and searched for its source. The kid from inside disappeared around a corner. All righty then.
She followed, expecting to find the child hiding, but saw only another corner. Disembodied hands and faces appeared briefly and she felt another vibration. How were they doing that? She raised the laser gun and pulled the trigger in the direction of the shadows up ahead. Oh, a tone. She must have hit someone. Hmmm.
She turned another corner and found a ramp. She moved up to the landing and paused. Vibration again. Who was getting her? Where were they? She peered over the side and took aim at someone slinking along the edges below. Tone and a hit. Yes.
She leaned around the side of the landing and checked out what was ahead. More mazes. She dashed up but another tremor hit the harness. She whirled around and pulled her trigger, aiming at nothing and everything.
“Man. You got me.” The kid was on the lower level.
“I told you I would,” she called over her shoulder as she continued up the ramp. “You said you were going to get me, too.” Grant appeared in front of her.
She swung her weapon up, took careful aim at his chest and was rewarded with a tone. “I believe I just did. Darn it. Where are you?” She whirled and headed down the ramp in pursuit of the youngster who kept getting bull’s-eyes at her expense. Grant’s chuckle trailed behind.
Time in the maze passed in a blur of laughter. When the lights came on and the laser guns quit firing, Cami was breathing hard and grinning. She followed the yellow arrows painted on the floor and returned to the equipment room.
The middle-aged women were already back, hanging up their vests and guns, giggling and talking as fast as the young people.
“You’re pretty good.” The youngster wriggled out of his harness and held up a hand for a high five.
“So are you.” She slapped his palm and exchanged glances with Grant who had entered. “What now?”
“We wait outside for the computer to spit out our scores and rankings.” He hung his gear on its peg and guided her through the door where the rest of their group milled around. The clerk emerged from behind the counter and began calling out names.
“The winner of this round with 16,570 points is Slugger.” A cheer rose as Grant bowed and accepted his scorecard.
“Second place goes to IceMan, and third is Skywalker.” A crowd formed as all the players waited to retrieve their scores. Hammer was called and Cami moved to center to accept her due.
“9,380,” she said to Grant. “Is that good?”
“Not bad at all, especially for a first timer.” He pointed to the bottom of the card. “This says how many shots you took, how many hit, and your shot to hit ratio. You ranked eighteenth out of twenty-four, with thirty percent of your shots hitting a target.” He grinned at her. “Did you enjoy it?”
“I really did.” She smiled back. “Thank you.”
“Let’s move on to the next challenge. Miniature golf.”
After collecting their equipment, they spent an hour sending golf balls toward castles, windmills, and other obstacles. Being evenly matched, they finished within a few strokes of each other.
“Well, shoot howdy, Miss Artist Lady, I guess we’ll have to have a rematch one of these here days right soon,” Grant said as they returned the putters to Anita. “Can I buy you a sarsaparilla?”
“I’d love one. And I want to challenge you to a round of Skee Ball in the arcade.”
After the arcade, they shared a pizza with Anita. Cami watched Grant talk with his old friend, impressed with his ability to make anyone feel at ease. She had long forgotten that he was famous. Some boys in the arcade recognized him so he spent twenty minutes signing autographs and giving batting tips. The smile never left his face and he seemed to enjoy it as much as the kids.
Cami sat at the counter and visited with Anita while Grant talked with his fans.
“He’s a nice man,” Anita said, following Cami’s gaze.
“Yes, he is.”
“I pray for him all the time.”
“It breaks my heart and it would kill his grandfather. If he weren’t already dead, of course.”
“The way Grant seems to feel that his talent has gotten him this far in baseball. He’s forgotten that his abilities are gifts. And we’re supposed to be thankful for gifts.”
“He isn’t grateful?”
“Well, he appreciates that he can throw a ball and run fast, but he takes it for granted. He thinks all he has to do is work hard and have a positive attitude. God is going to get his attention one day. I pray for it and dread it at the same time.”
Grant waved goodbye to the last fan and returned to Cami and Anita.
“It’s been fun, but I have colors to mix before work tomorrow,” Cami said. “I need to be getting home.”
“You come again anytime,” Anita said. “And don’t wait for Slugger here to bring you.”
“I’d like that.”
“I’m not sure I do.” Grant looked from Anita to Cami. “What have you two been talking about?”
“Just chatting,” Anita said. “Drive carefully. Cami, it was a pleasure meeting you.”
It was dark when Cami and Grant took the Agua Vida off ramp.
“I haven’t had so much fun in ages,” she said. “Thank you for a wonderful day. And I love Anita. She has a real soft spot for you.”
“She’s great,” he agreed. “I wish I could do more for her than visit once in a while.”
“What does she need?”
“It’s tough to be self-employed nowadays.”
She chuckled. “You don’t say? Really?”
“I’m preaching to the choir, I take it.”
“We formed our support group for a reason. Do you think Anita would like to visit us sometime? Maybe get some marketing ideas?”
He glanced at her. “You’d invite her? To your young women’s network?”
“They’d love her, too.” Cami paused, not wanting to say the wrong thing. “They may have younger viewpoints, but we all see the value of knowing what works and what doesn’t for other businesswomen. Anita could bring a more mature perspective.”
“You’d do that?”
“Of course.” She shrugged. “I’ll call her before our next meeting.”
“Thank you,” he said, making the turn onto her street. “I hope Meredith took care of everything.”
“I’m sure she did.”
As Grant pulled into her driveway, the headlights illuminated the driver’s side of Cami’s vehicle.
She saw it a split second before he did. It took a moment for her brain to process what her eyes were seeing.
One word had been spray-painted in bold strokes, the red letters harsh against her navy blue Tahoe. WHY?