I'm not old enough to remember classic radio broadcasting (Thank God), but I used to love to listen to CBS Mystery Theater. The show was sort of a throwback revival of classic radio thriller programs. CBS Mystery Theater was a series of imaginative shows that ran nightly during the week. The host was E.G. Marshall. You remember E.G. Marshall; he was in a lot of movies and shows, and horror fans will fondly recall the episode of Creepshow with him and the cockroaches.

CBS Mystery Theater aired at 11:00 PM, and I would lie awake in my bed, ears perched by my trusty old clock radio. This was back in my teen years.

I listened to it nearly every night. Sometimes I'd nod off, but I'd mostly hear it all, and then click the radio off and go to sleep.

Only one show stands out in my mind. It dealt with a man whose love of bowling overpowered his entire life. I remember hearing the sound effects of balls rolling down alleys, pins falling down. In the story the man died and was rewarded by being able to spend eternity in a bowling alley, indulging in his passion.

The story, which I now know is called The Forever Alley, struck a deep chord in my heart. Like most of our species, I've been preoccupied with mortality for my entire life. Plus I've always been inordinately passionate about my hobbies. The notion that I would be able to live on forever, spending time with my books was irresistibly romantic.

Later I would literally dream that I would spend my eternity in a drive-in theater. The beer would always be cold, and there would be no hangovers or health problems. Horror movies would run forever, and me and my friends would spend a million lifetimes there.

Time has passed. I am no longer the sixteen year old lad who listened to CBS Mystery Theater in his safe bed. Drive-in theaters appear to be making a comeback, but we've had none here in my area for decades. Drinking is a thing of the past for me. Friends have mostly scattered to the winds.

I did some research and I was able to find that episode of CBS Mystery Theater. As I said above, it is called The Forever Alley. Spotify has every episode of the show available for streaming. Thousands of shows.

I listened to The Forever Alley on my way to work this morning. I drive in early, in the dark, and it was a cloudy and windy morning, with spotty rain. A nice, dreamlike state reminiscent of lying in my bed way back then with my eyes closed.

I liked The Forever Alley this time, even if my critical brain detected imperfections. The heavy-handed plot, the routine delivery of the lines. Still, the haunting sound of the bowling bowl hitting the lane resonated in me. The ball rolling its way toward its target, followed by a satisfying clutter of pins.

It made me think of my life, and how it has rolled down the lane of life, knowing impact was ahead.

I've loved storytelling all my life. It's been my pleasure and privilege to read the words of thousands of authors, to see the dreams of creators come to life on the screen. I've been incredibly fortunate, and things could have easily gone bad for me. I'm still rolling strong and true, and I think I have some more momentum to pick up on my path.

To those who've been along for the ride, friends, movie buddies, book brothers and sisters, I thank you. It's been one hell of a ride.

And maybe, just maybe, our souls will endure after all this struggle, and when the pins have fallen, there will be more rounds ahead for all of us.

Written by Mark Sieber



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