To be honest, I’m not sure if Van Halen’s “Jump!” (ahhh…brings back fine, fine memories of the old Van Halen days…) or the origin of parkour was my inspiration for this next story or what, but it was written about the time of parkour’s development. But I’ve always been interested in “jumping,” and wish I’d been younger when I really remember hearing about all this nifty French obstacle course training. As you know, your bones don’t remain as supple into your 30s, 40s, 50s, and beyond.
But my story takes it a little beyond the whole parkour thing, not to mention David Lee Roth.
In any event, I wish I could do this outside my dreams (where I have been known to really give it a go, and it is ever so much damned fun!). I did, however, have to add the last two paragraphs when I reread it.
This story has never been published.
© F. P. Dorchak, 1990
He got up and walked away.
No fanfare; no good-byes. He simply lifted himself up off the chair and left…the creaking of the chair (like his bones) still hanging in the air like some spent cigar aroma.
“Bullshit,” Harold said, watching the man walk away and out the door. Turning to Bill, who had also sat there and listened to the old man’s story, he again uttered, “Pure, one-hundred per-cent, finely packed, bullshit!”
Bill merely continued sitting there, speechless. The summer sun was going down fast, and any customers who had been to Preacher’s Corner General Store had long since left, but one additional person had come out, Bill Waverly’s daughter, Marianne. She placed herself at her dad’s feet, curling up and grasping her legs into her arms.
“I was gonna say ‘bull crap‘, daddy.”
Bill gave his daughter one of those stern paternal looks, then let his daughter continue. Marianne had a wry grin on her face. She was prone to blurting out things despite what she nonchalantly claimed, and Bill decided it gave her the attention she wanted…saying the unexpected…whether a “curse” word or not…usually got it good and got it fast, and Marianne liked that.
“So what’d he say?” Marianne asked her father.
“‘Nuthin‘?” Harold said, exploding, almost offended, “he just spent the better part of the afternoon tellin’ us how he done jumped off’n everything in sight that had a roof attached to it, and you call it nuthin’!”
“I know what he said, Harold….”
“C’mon, c’mon, c’mon! You said you’d tell me!” Marianne pressed.
Bill Waverly let out a long sigh as he examined his daughter’s preteen expression, then looked back at Harold, a good friend of many years. Harold Filmore and Bill Waverly knew each other since Bill was a kid. Now that Bill was grown up, he’d come help take up operation of Preacher’s Corner General Store after Harold’s wife, Millie, passed away. Harold had been old when Bill was young; now it was immaterial.
“Ah, why not, Bill. It’s not like it’s true or anything. Shit, go an’ tell her how he done jumped off the Empire State Building. Or how he’d hopped, skipped, and jumped all the way down the Grand Canyon—only to do it all the way back up!”
Marianne’s eyes lit up.
“Oh! Did he really?”
“No. I mean, I don’t believe so—”
“You don’t believe so? Lord, fetch me my switch, Bill! You think he mighta been talking’ the truth, or sumthin’?”
“Well, beat all, Harold, there’s lots a things out there we know nuthin’ about. Who’s ta say he weren’t telling’ the truth?”
“I am! You believe him when he talked a jumpin’ across those Sears Towers in Chicago?”
Bill shrugged his shoulders.
“Gol dern, William Waverly, you’re more skittery’n I thought!”
“Dad-dy! Please, tell me!”
“Okay, okay. But what I’m about to tell you is only one man’s word. This here fella claims to have jumped over, across, and down from just about anything that exists.”
“Really?” Marianne asked, pulling her knees up to her chin.
“Yep,” he said, continuing, casting a glance over to Harold who just began restuffing a dead pipe. “This here fella said he started doing it ever since he was a kid over in Australia.”
“Australia? Where’s that?”
“Down clear on the other side of the world, child, where all their seasons are backwards from ours. Anyway, he say he saw some—what did he call them, Harold?”
“Aborigines—they’re like the American Indians are to our country, but to Australia—he saw these Aborigines jumping off platforms with rope tied to their ankles. So, one day, he decided to give it a go, only the rope he tied to his ankle came loose—”
Marianne’s eyes bugged wide.
“Did he die?” she asked.
“No child, of course not, he was just here, wasn’t he?”
“But that wasn’t the worst of it, really. It turns out he just…bounced.”
Harold grunted something which Bill chose to ignore.
“He just up and bounced right back up into the air…right up to the platform he’d jumped off from. From there, he began experimentin’ with different things…steadily going higher and higher. He’s said he’s done it all…jumped from anything he could get his feet on.
“Wow…,” was all Marianne could say, staring off into the growing darkness.
Off in the distance, where none of the General Store group could see, a lone figure jumped from rooftop to rooftop in the evening twilight, sometimes doing flips in mid-air. If you listened real close, you could make out some faint whoopin’ and hollarin’….
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