Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Story #14: "Jump Off A Cliff"

It's Day 17 of my #astoryaday June Writing Challenge and this is merely Story #14. Which all-in-all isn't that bad actually, but I'm still playing catch-up. Here's a bleak little tale that could've taken any number of directions once I came up with its title. I think it took the darkest turn possible, but it is what it is and I still like it. I hope you will, too.  ~  JH

"Jump Off A Cliff"

Some people do it for fun, a bungee cord attached securely to their person. Some people fall accidentally and pulverize their bodies against rocks, trees, and what have you. Some people get pushed maliciously, with virtually the same result. And some simply do it because they feel like they've either served their purpose here or simply have no purpose and they want to end it all. 

Me, I jump off cliffs for cash. Well, direct-deposit checks, actually, but you get my point. I'm a stuntman. It's been my job for twenty-odd years now to make the hard stuff look easy for all your favorite stars. That I suffer the bumps, bruises, scrapes, and breaks so they don't have to is probably no concern of yours. They generally appreciate my work, and believe me, it is work. 

Sure, I'm technically safe, secured by invisible wires or safety harnesses that get edited out digitally before you ever see them. But there's always an element of risk to my work, and it's always a possibility that I won't come home each day. At least not all in one piece. 

Tonight, I'm jumping off the highest cliff I've ever seen in person. I'm not here on a lark, not being careless or reckless, not desperate to end my life, but destined to do so nonetheless. 

I'm not alone. There's a small handgun pressed into the small of my back, clasped tightly in my wife's hand. I still don't understand why she's doing this, and she won't explain, but it probably has something to do with the insurance policy we took out last year. Jobs have been spotty of late, as I've been recovering from one injury or another, and she hasn't worked outside the home since we've been married. Times are tough. But I never thought it would come to this. 

We approach the summit, and I look up at the stars. They're shining bright tonight. The river far below me glistens in the moonlight. The jagged rocks break up the flow of the water and further ensure that I will not survive this stunt. 

She nudges me roughly with the gun, urging me forward. Maybe I'll keep resisting, go out with a bang – literally. No one would believe it was an accident, my getting shot and then falling off a cliff. She wouldn't be able to collect the insurance money. Then how would she afford all those nice things she so richly deserves. 

I'm being sarcastic. She's a nice lady, but she doesn't deserve any of that. Still, I wouldn't deny her the pleasure of seeing me fall one last time – she's visited me on the set  a few times lately; I wonder how long she's been fantasizing about and planning this? 

Have I fulfilled my purpose? I don't know. Does anyone ever truly know their purpose in life? I'm not giving up, but I am giving in. 

I'm forty-two years old. She's thirty-six. She can still live a long and happy life, with or without me. She can marry again, maybe have kids with her new man. I could never give her that, which may have been part of the problem with us. 

I slowly turn to face her, my back to the precipice. She waggles the gun in my direction, smirking creepily. I mouth the words "I love you" and step out into nothingness.

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