Sunday, January 10, 2010

Entry #97

Jumper
by Michael J. Solender


“Did you know who he was or anything about him?”

“Look, I pulled over as soon as I saw him. Today was the first time I ever laid eyes on him. He seemed actually quite rational. Given the circumstances our conversation was quite normal and even pleasant.”

“What do you mean, pleasant, wasn’t he upset or distressed?”

“You would think that would be the case but he was actually enthusiastic about it, he said he had wanted to fly for as long as he could remember. Flight meant everything to him, his freedom and ability to finally be a peace. He said he felt raptors were the most regal of birds and he wanted to experience that type of majesty.”

“Did he say anything else, why now, why here?”

“He said he worked here, on the Golden Gate. A fare collector. For 25 years. He said all day long he watched the raptors and today he just made the decision to do it. He said most people try from the other side, but that was silly and futile as the barrier prevented them. He said this side didn’t have the barrier.”

“They say when you hit the water; you’re going about 90 miles an hour and it’s just like hitting concrete.”

“He said that too. He said for most people that was true but he was going to soar along the breakers and prove to be the exception.”

47 comments:

onipar... said...

This is a well crafted story, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. But I feel like I'm missing the inclusion/significance of the silhouette picture...

Although I see how it might play a part metaphorically, like a "free as a bird" type of thing.

Nice work on this though.

Lena said...

I always wondered what this path to the gates would look like. What people feel if anything. If they remember it.
Liked the way you crafted it. Good work.

Preeti said...

Hahaha... Nice. :-)

I liked the build-up. Very cleverly done.

Lee Hughes said...

Mike, great piece, couldn't tell where you were leading me to with it, but I certainly didn't expect the Pearly Gates! good luck mate.

Ayodele Morocco-Clarke said...

There is nothing like a deluded individual who thinks that he can buck the trend of gravity. Maybe the monotony of his job finally pushed him over the edge.

Bernita said...

Sad he wasn't able to "burst the surly bonds of earth."
Immutable physical laws can be such a pain sometimes.
A good story, well done.

Megs - Scattered Bits said...

We always think we'll be the exception, don't we? As somebody important once said (don't ask me who, I don't remember): Prayer is to ask that the laws of the universe be changed for one admittedly unworthy. :sigh: Good story.

Lee Hughes said...

Take Two,

I can't think of better ways to go than throwing myself off something high.

25 years of that grind, no wonder he was a little bit wonky in the old noggin.

Nice, clean writing with plenty of imagery as usual Mike.

JaneyV said...

It's nice that he didn't want to end it all so much as experience one perfect moment of freedom. What a pity that the outcome is the same.

Well told.

Aimee Laine said...

Well done! I like that there wasn't a "conclusion" of sorts and how nicely that tied in. Great job!

Aniket said...

I am a believer of the Full Metal Alchemist's theory of afterlife.

According to them, this is afterlife. And we are already on the other side paying for our sins. :) Now that explains a lot of things in life, right? :D

I loved how enthused he was with the idea of freedom. Its the most beautiful feeling ever.

Craig said...

You've got to love physics. For evey action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Paul D. Brazill said...

Lovely piece of work.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Great conversation piece. Hard to do just dialogue sometimes, but you handled it well.

Kim Soles said...

Well done Michael!

pjd said...

A sad tale. Several years ago the New Yorker had a long article about jumpers at the Golden Gate Bridge. The number of jumpers was approaching 1,000, and officials were afraid that when it got to 999 there would be a lot of people trying to be #1,000. Anyway, out of the 980 or whatever that had jumped, only two survived. Both said that the feeling of standing on the rail was exhilaration, but the only feeling after letting go was regret. I personally see nothing noble in this man's dream of becoming like the raptors--I see only the moment after his feet leave the rail, that irrevocable decision that results in pure regret.

Well told after the fact, with the interview of the witness.

CJT said...

Definately an interesting twist on the pic. Nice.

peggy said...

Well Mike, I'm not sure what the exact rules of this contest signify, but I take the word "inspired" to mean what the picture "inspires" you to write, and I think you've done an admirable job.

I echo others' thoughts that freedom, even for a moment, is the focus of this story and that moment can represent a lifetime.

Good job.

Scribblers Inc said...

looks like what I would prolly end up doin in a very metaphoric manner...let go and poof!

Mithun Mukherjee.

austere said...

Very nice but the only thing missing is the scare in the onlooker's voice, no case of the jitters, nothing?

Kartik said...

This leaves you with a feeling of eerie, at one hand you can sense the exhilaration that man sought after by jumping off, and on the other hand you wonder if there could have been some means to spice up the monotony of his life. Very well written!

Angel Zapata said...

Hope he did it right, because he certainly isn't getting a do-over. As always, good, gritty story, Michael.

jasonhenrymccormick said...

Whoa, Michael. Nice one. I see this man. His tollbooth is third from the FasTrack Lane and when people hand him money he hardly says hello. Neither do they. This picture is painted perfectly, and your story keeps it real.

I see the Golden Gate everyday. I'll be thinking about this story for a while.

laughingwolf said...

nicely crafted, mike...

Laurel said...

I think the man's excitement on his way out was probably why the witness wasn't more disturbed or jumping out of evident desperation. The guy is clearly unhinged, but he's doing what he wants to do, grasping at freedom.

The only thing that really bothered me about his decision to jump was his conviction that he would fly rather than meet his death. It doesn't sound like he wanted to die, just that he wanted freedom.

Sad.

David Barber said...

Great piece, Michael, especially as the whole story was told 'in conversation'.

Alan Griffiths said...

Nice piece and really well crafted. I enjoyed this a lot - well done Michael.

Carrie said...

Teehee. Whoops! Great add Michael.

Weezel said...

Nice job conveying an entire story in such a limited space. I enjoyed reading "Jumper."

Christian Bell said...

Nicely told using dialogue as the storytelling device. This is one that will have you thinking about it well after you’ve read it.

Four Dinners said...

There are worse ways to go than believing you'll soar!!!

Well written and, I think, excellently done...the genuine if ultimately detached concern of the witness.

Very well done!!!

Deb S said...

A well crafted story. And a great job with the dialogue.

illyriataylor said...

Masterful my friend.
(Alisa)

Jelena said...

Well done! Loved the last sentence.

Lily Childs said...

I get a feeling of pale, golden light from these words, and not because of the gates.

I like the wistfulness in the way the speakers discuss the guy's decision, and how it all makes perfect sense to them.

Michael Solender said...

Thanks to all for encouragement and supportive feedback. It means a lot coming from a group of strong writers that have assembled here. I'm pleased you enjoyed my story.

Erin Cole said...

The lead into this ending was creepy- and I like the inclusion of raptors, adding to the savage conclusion. Terrific take, Michael.

Lynn Kinsey said...

Michael,
I enjoyed your piece, but was a bit hung up on a few grammatical errors. I understand how literary license is can give the story a certain style, but I think some of these errors cause an interrupt in the flow. For example, there are a few places in the dialog where the sentences should be broken up into independent clauses or need commas between conjunctions. There should be a comma after "given the circumstances," and I would also make sure to put a comma before the "and" in a serial list. A comma is needed between the conjunction "case, but" and start a new sentence with "He said." There are a few others, but I am sure you can find them. Otherwise, the story idea is great, and it is compelling that you begin the story from the viewpoint of the witness. Nice job!

Robert187 said...

It's funny how we Americans so often see freedom as ripping ourselves away from the here and now and going on a fantasy cruise to a place where the necessity of making choices is no longer an issue. It's like being free as a bird in a vacuum, no choice at all, the ultimate slavery, and death. Your guy exemplified the American Dream for so many.

Tim Remp said...

There is always one exception. Even when it comes to the Pearly Gate. Well done, well done.

-Tim
#138

Barry J. Northern said...

What a great example of "show don't tell", the tell version of course being, "One day, a stupid man drove off a bridge."

McKoala said...

Interesting, but left me wanting more.

quin browne said...

nice take on the prompt

james r. tomlinson said...

I understand the setting of your story, but for some reason I keep seeing those damn tree limbs in Jason's photograph and start wondering ... Nice bit of writing here though.

Chris Eldin said...

It sounds like he knew what he was doing, and wanted to experience that flight at any cost. Your writing is strong and confident. I'd love to read more.

catvibe said...

Oh, you make me miss my city. I know from having crossed that bridge thousands of times, that the toll worker job would drive anyone insane. That is what has happened to this poor man, who is now a statistic of the world's most popular suicide destination. I wonder how many of them wished they had wings about 45 feet into the drop. oops. Nice writing.

Aerin said...

Dear Entrants #1-105,

I have read your pieces so that I can fairly participate in the Readers' Choice vote. (I read all of them through last week, before I started commenting.) I will be coming back around to offer my keep/tweak comment, but I didn't want anyone to snark.

Cheers,
Aerin (#236)

BTW, it's perfectly fine if you still want to snark, but this way you can choose a more appropriate subject, like the Golden Globes or those wretched Old Navy dummies.