The Jumper Part 2

by

01/02/2002

Brooklyn Bridge, NY, NY

Neighborhood: Manhattan

Illustrations by Elisha Cooper

They’re huddled in the far corner of the office, all of them peering out of the enormous window. They vibe is jittery. “Jumper?” I ask, throwing down my bag.

“Yup!” All five exclaim in unison.

Sure enough, here we are again. Our generous view has coughed up ringside seats for another round of human tragedy. Standing on the webbing under the exterior cable on the north side of the Brooklyn Bridge, stands another Jumper. Directly above him are three members of the New York Police Department’s Emergency Service Unit. Three boats from the Harbor Patrol chug against the tide in the East River below. One helicopter hangs against the Skyline above. The ESU team sport safety harnesses that anchor them to the bridge, but only one guy is wearing the bright blue hard hat tha just has to be required gear for a Jumper call. Any more detail will require binoculars.

“How long?” I ask.

“The cops have been up there about ten minutes. When the cops started climbing the cable towards him he threw his beer bottle away and started climbing off the pipe into the cables, there,” says someone pointing in the direction we’re all already looking.

“If you could see that it was a beer bottle he threw, it must have been pretty big. Big, like a 40 oz.?” somebody behind me says.

“It was big,” confirms another.

The numerous smaller suspension cables that once made this bridge a marvel run from positions on the bridge’s roadway to one of the four main cables. In doing so they create a rhombus weave, and Jumper has his feet jammed in the intersection of two of the suspension cables and he’s swinging one-handed from a third. The Jumper appears to be taunting the cops. They seem unimpressed.

I am impressed, though. “He’s crazier than he is drunk,” I say.

“There’s no way any of those cops are gonna reach out for him. He’s a loon,” someone says.

The Jumper swings for a while, monkeys around for a bit. But soon he grows bored. He starts making his way among the cables away from the cops and toward the Manhattan tower. The cops follow along the pipe, which descends toward and eventually intersects Jumper’s course. Jumper is showing every sign of giving up. Jumper reaches out his hand, the cop wearing the bright blue hard hat reciprocates. But now Jumper is grabbing an, until now, unseen cable that sews the exterior main cable to it’s interior twin. Hand-over-hand, legs bent but swinging freely, Jumper’s making the impossible 40-foot journey along the cable. He’s doing it bare-handed. “That’s it! He’s gone. There’s no way he makes this!” I squeal.

Eight times Jumper reaches out for that terrible, skinny cable. Eight times I’m convinced Jumper’s dropping to his death. The traffic is still stopped on the bridge in both directions. The walkway, usually quite congested at this hour on a balmy day such as this, is empty. The three boats that the Harbor Patrol dispatched still wait in the river below. The helicopter flits in the air above, more than two dozen police officers watch from command posts and action stations on the bridge. Jumper has just successfully evaded his rescuers.

Jumper isn’t a jumper after all.

Jumper’s a fearless fuckin’ cable monkey and a bad ass to boot. And, in the office, we’re all agog, looking at each other with our jaws swinging like jumper’s legs just were. Somebody says that the city should give Jumper a job rescuing jumpers from the bridge. “The Mayor could give him a fancy hat with a feather,” adds someone, walking away from the window. Jumper’s hidden from view now, behind the Brooklyn parapet. The office returns to the business at hand, still the roadway and the walkway are empty except for rescue vehicles. Somebody wonders out loud about how much money jumper is costing the city. Someone else suggests that the losses aren’t strictly the city’s, that commuters and tourists are being delayed and so, if you want to look at the Big Picture, all that should be calculated into the equation.

A few of us start working on the math.

After using the bridge as a jungle gym for an hour or so; after leaping the eight foot gap between the bridge’s interior main cables and another hand-over-hand journey of forty feet to the webbing on the bridge’s south side; after a few smokes in that webbing, Jumper scampers onto the walkway and is detained by members of the New York Police Department’s Emergency Service Unit.

For The Jumper part I, The original jumper, or at least the jumper who was something of a novelty for the people in Manny Howard’s office, click here

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§ One Response to “The Jumper Part 2”

  • don shea says:

    Both stories have an eerie resonance with my short short story, “Jumper Down,” in Flash Fiction Forward, WW Norton, 2006.

    Don Shea

§ Leave a Reply

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