Wanna Bet?

It was late that dark night thou no real starlight penetrated past the dim city lights. Beneath his toes sprawled the decayed remnants of a once thriving industrial and port city on the Great Lake of Erie.  A gentle breeze blew over the cooling waters and through the city, the great lake had yet to freeze this winter and the chill in the air drew no response from the youthful shadow.  He stood at the edge of the recently re-roofed building from passed the past its bricks laid before the great bank panics of the 1890s, the Great Depression from before the Great Depression.  None of this was taught at school and the youthful shadow was unaware of these dark echoes as his own murky world allowed no further thought or perception.  He stood there swaying hypnotically above the concrete and brick like a morbid dance.

The weak yellow street lights far below casting the narrow fingers of light up towards the unrelenting night left their echos in the odd finger cast shadows hiding the soft footsteps as another had found its way onto the roof and began to slowly stalk towards the strange swaying youth.  This new one was tall and lean towering over the troubled interloper with long arms and large hands.  When it had drawn close enough to see clearly it paused.  Slow thoughtful breaths slipped from and back into the cold night air.  It waited, silently.

Minutes turned into a half hour yet the swaying shadow perched at the edge had neither moved towards safety nor had taken the final leap.

“Its not high enough,” The second taller shadow said in a deep masculine voice.

The youthful shadow started, swaying and jerking dangerously staggering back to a more secure spot on the thick rubber roofing.

“You can’t stop me!” fright running under his words as he moved back into the ready position.

“I’m not trying to stop you,” The new shadow stated.

“Better not.” The younger shadow stated confidently as he resumed the ready to plunge position.  He began to sway again as the icy wet wind breathed its first from over the cold lake.

“Its not high enough.”

The youthful death athlete stepped back again from the edge turning just enough to try and focus on this  insistent irritant.

“I told you you can’t stop me,” the voice, though definitely male, had reached the pitch and tone of a high whine.

“I’m not trying to stop you,” The older shadow insisted, moving closer, “I am simply stating the fact that this building is not high enough.”

There was a long thunderous silence that hung in the air allowing the growing cat call whistle of the strengthening breeze to sound around them.  The taller shade stepped closer though his form and detail still held hidden in deep shadow.

“I’m gonna jump,” The younger steady stepping back to the edge.

“It is a free country.”

The youthful shadow once again began to sway as though attempting to reach some altered state of consciousness.  Maybe he was waiting for some strange voice to call to him.  The beckoning song that had called so many before.

“Not high enough.”

“It is high enough,” The youth said strongly, stills swaying waiting for the call.

“This is only three stories high,” The second shadow said strangely soft, “The Stadtmiller Insurance Building is three doors down, its seven stories high…better odds.”

“I’m planning on taking a header into the roof of that car right there,” The youthful shadow pointed at the street below, “The white one, its an easy target.”

“You’ll probably just break an arm or a leg, unless your really unlucky then you’ll fracture your skull or break your neck,” The shadow said, voice closer, so much so that the jumper startled again stepping away from the edge.

“you can’t stop me!” The younger shadow stepped again to the edge and began to sway, listening for the call.

“How’s your luck been,” The older shadow asked, unmoved, “I mean if you real lucky that might…”

“Don’t come any closer,” The youthful shadow again stepped back from the edge, holding his left hand up palm out.

“I’ll bet you five dollars that your still alive…after you…”

“Five dollars, is that it?” There was something pained and shallow in the sound of the would be jumpers voice.

“Its all I have, so how’s your luck?”

“Its a bet,” The younger shadow stated, taking that final step into the empty air.


It was less than a minute before a loud crunching thump sounded from below.  A car alarm screamed for attention into the night.  No one would come, no one ever did.  The older tall lean shadow stepped towards the edge and leaned forward enough to see clearly.  The younger had made good, his body stopped from colliding with the pavement by an unsuspecting automobile, late model, white.

He waited.

With on a few minutes he could clearly hear a cry of pain from the street below.

“Help,” the voice wound around in sharp shrill pain, “Somebody call 911”

The taller older man leaned out over the edge of destiny glaring at the crushed car roof some distance below.  The young jumper had made good on his word and hit the white colored car.  It must have been the target being the only car of such tone anywhere in sight.

“Call 911”  the pain under his words could be clearly heard.

The taller shadow fished a cell phone from his left back pocket pausing before dailing.

“You owe me five dollars!”

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