The bank holiday weekend ran away with me and I didn’t get a chance to post the usual story. Hopefully I’m making up for that now, with a slightly longer-than-usual offering. ‘Bowled Over’ is a tongue-in-cheek story I wrote a very long time ago, set at an annual charity cricket match. Who knew there was so much potential for m/m romance among the wickets, balls and bats? Well, balls maybe, but… 😉
And there’s plenty more where this came from. Just check out all my books and stories on my website.
The red leather ball sailed high into the puffily-clouded blue sky, shot over the pavilion roof and came down—hard—on the windscreen of a Bentley parked neatly on the village green. There was the resounding tinkle of breaking glass, followed by commotion as an elderly spectator was fetched to retrieve the ball from the depths of luxurious tan upholstery.
‛Six,’ called the umpire drily, holding both hands over his head.
‛Oops.’ Brandon swished his bat at a dandelion, decapitating it. ‛Which one is it this time?’
His colleague Mikey made use of the delay to amble up the pitch. ‛Not sure. Bit hard to see from here. Might be the Colonel.’
Mikey grinned. ‛That’s the third one today. You’re a menace.’
Brandon pursed his lips in an aggrieved pout. ‛Hardly my fault if I’m big and strong. They should use smaller bats.’
‛Or park the cars further away.’
‛Mmm.’ A horrible thought struck him. ‛Hope they don’t dock it off my wages. I’ll be paying it off for years.’
‛The boss isn’t that mean.’
‛Don’t be so–’ He tailed off as, thanks to an erratic over-arm heave from one of the stewards, the ball made a sudden and alarming reappearance on the pitch, missing him by an inch. He picked it up and examined it, but it seemed to be none the worse for its glassy escapade so he chucked it back in the general direction of the umpire. That gentleman coughed to get everyone’s attention; Mikey wandered back to his own end of the pitch; and Brandon, resplendent in white flannels and twirling his bat, took guard for the next delivery.
Although he’d rather walk barefoot across hot coals than admit it, he rather enjoyed the annual cricket match between the sports college where he and Mikey worked and the local police training centre down the road. Billed as an afternoon of gentle parochial fun with the proceeds going to charity, it was usually more of a grudge match. Staff from the two establishments liked nothing better than getting one over on each other and the only surprise was that nobody had ever actually been killed. Brandon revelled in the covert animosity and the opportunity to show off his athletic prowess. The long-sleeved white shirt and long white pants suited his muscular frame, and he rarely made less than 50. Today, cheered on raucously by his colleagues and with rather more restraint by the local villagers, he was on 99 and eager to reach his century.
The two openers, young lads who’d only been with Fellowes for a matter of months, had put on a good show, making 40-odd between them before departing in consecutive balls to the meanest of the police team’s bowlers. When Brandon and Mikey came in they quickly advanced the score to 200, setting about the bowling with a gusto that brought roars of delight from their mates and shouts of dismay from several car owners in the crowd. Mikey’s approach was unorthodox—chucking his bat at anything within reach in a flurry of arms and legs—but surprisingly effective. Brandon himself was more of a classicist, having been taught at a slightly more up-itself school. He’d clonked the ball out of the middle of the bat all afternoon and was looking forward to his moment of glory. The opposition, however, had other ideas.
Glancing up from the dusty grass he found that a small speck on the horizon was Fanshawe, the meanest of the police team’s bowlers who’d already done for Murray and Briggs. Having his previous delivery dispatched for six had clearly done nothing for his temper. Now, with the last ball of the over, he steamed in from the furthest boundary with arms whirling like a windmill and unleashed an express train of a ball straight at Brandon’s midriff.
Unfazed, Brandon watched, waited, and walloped, and the ball sped across the outfield to clatter against the boundary hoarding once more. A four. That should do it! Turning with a triumphant grin to acknowledge the expected acclaim, he was met with the sight of the umpire, one uncompromising finger raised in the direction of the pavilion.
‛You what?’ He felt his expression change, comically, like that of a small puppy forcibly removed from its food dish.
‛Out,’ repeated the umpire, with slightly more emphasis this time.
‛No I’m not. Can’t be. I hit the ruddy thing didn’t I? No one caught it, unless you’re trying to count the ants.’
‛Leg before wicket.’
‛Nowhere near my perishing leg. You can’t prove anything.’
The umpire’s pudgy face took on a ‛why me’ expression. ‛Mr Thorpe, please. This is a gentleman’s game.’
‛Oh, well, that lets me out, then. Common as muck, I am.’
At the other end of the pitch Mikey cracked up. The umpire, refusing to be steamrollered, continued as though he hadn’t been interrupted. ‛And when I say out, I mean out.’
Brandon, though, hadn’t given up yet. There was more at stake here than the century, or putting one over on the police. ‛So that’s it, then? That’s your final word on the subject?’
‛Can’t get you to change your mind? Maybe if I buy you a drink later…?’
‛Mr Thorpe, please leave the field. You. Are. Out.’
‛All right, all right, keep your hair on.’ Considering the umpire was as bald as a hard-boiled egg, this caused Mikey to collapse again. Brandon felt his own lips twitch in sympathy, but kept up the act. Dragging his bat disconsolately behind him he trailed off the pitch, treating the spluttering Mikey to a special glare. ‛Don’t know what you’re laughing at, mate. It’ll be your turn next. Bloody silly game if you ask me…’ And he mooched off the field towards the pavilion to be replaced by Anson from admin, chewing an unlit cigar.
Back in his crease Mikey realised it was his turn to face the bowling, and tried desperately to compose himself. Fanshawe might have retired to the boundary to get his breath back but his replacement was a stocky young spin bowler whose deliveries were tricky to say the least and he needed to concentrate. Blast Brandon and his warped sense of humour. He breathed deeply, held it for ten, let it go, but the giggles still threatened to break free. And the bowler was spitting on his fingers and juggling the ball malevolently from hand to hand, all set to unleash some looping delivery that was virtually unplayable. ‛Get a grip,’ he muttered, banging the end of his bat on the ground for emphasis. At the last second he looked up again, to find the bowler had already hopped in, flung one arm over and released the ball. It spiralled weirdly down the pitch, bounced once, twitched over his outstretched bat and hit the middle stump with a resounding thud.
The umpire raised his finger again. ‛Out.’
Mikey lost his temper. ‛You must be joking, mate. I wasn’t ready.’
‛Lord give me strength.’ The umpire was beginning to lose his cool. ‛Are all you Fellowes men like this?’
‛It’s a sports college. They train us well.’
‛Well training or not, you’re out. Good God, man, you were clean bowled.’
‛Yeah, but he put me off. Brandon, I mean. It’s not fair. Don’t I get a second chance?’
‛Oh, well, sod you then.’ And wrenching off his helmet and gloves he stumped away to join his colleague in the pavilion.
Brandon sat on a narrow wooden bench in a deserted corner of the dressing room and quietly thanked every deity he could think of. The bench was uncomfortable but everyone was outside watching the match. He was newly showered; there was a half empty pint glass at his feet. Best of all, Mikey was in his arms. And not just in his arms, but kissing him. He forgot about the ridges on his arse from the wooden slats and kissed back desperately, making the most of this borrowed and unexpected time.
Eventually Mikey broke away from his mouth and glared at him. Outside in the real world that glare was bad enough; here, a few inches away, the result was devastating. He wanted nothing more than to grab the man and kiss the scowl off his face. But Mikey had other ideas. ‛You did that on purpose,’ he said, using a long finger to prod Brandon in the chest.
‛Put me off. Distracted me. I was so busy laughing at you I missed the sodding ball.’
‛Oh, yeah, that.’ He tried not to grin. Trust Mikey to see straight through him as usual. Not that it mattered, anyway. The ruse had worked. The match wasn’t over yet. With luck they’d be undisturbed for at least another hour. The grin won. ‛Who wants to get sunstroke charging up and down out there when we can be tucked away in here instead?’
It was a shame about the missed century, he thought, leaning back against the wall while Mikey unzipped his pants. But this was more than enough compensation. The annual cricket match had scored.
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Those last lines are so great! ❤
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Thank you! I remember having a LOT of fun writing this one… 😉
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Fun, cheeky, full of atmosphere amd set during a cricket match. What more could a reader want! 😁
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I know, right? I remember having a LOT of fun writing this one…
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Oh, that’s nice! The antics with the umpire reminded me of a story. The actor Peter Falk had a glass eye since childhood. Once when he was playing in a High School basketball game, he walked over to the referee, handed him his glass eye and said “I think you could use one of these.” He was thrown out of the game but he said it was worth it!
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Bwahahaha… that’s just brilliant!
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