Leap of Faith

 

            A bridge construct۔t of rope and parallel wood۔y planks span۔d a deep gulch within North America continent’s Rock۔y Mountains.  The bridge wuz the only link between the gulch’s commercial side (a shack adjacent to a park·landlot) and it’s natural side (forest۔y with tall pine trees).  Far below, Snake river – dur springtime a powerful torrent of melt۔d snow, but by late summer year 2016 mere۔ly a trickle of blue-gray water meander۔d through a boulder-strew۔t riverbed between steep green forests.

            That Sunday mornin the park·landlot wuz full of cars.  Young mans and womans wear۔ing colorful sport۔wear sit۔d on benches or stand۔d outside the white-paint۔y shack top۔t with a sign read۔ing, Skip's Bungee Jumps.  Every summer dur the past seven years the enterprise had attract۔d hundreds of youngstors, all brave enough to dive off the high bridge, they’s ankles fasten۔d to a long elastic rubber bungee cord whose strength and elasticity wuz careful۔ly calibrate۔t to allow they to fall almost – but not quite – to the rock۔y bottom, before yank۔ing they back up to the bridge.

            The opposite leftside of the gulch wuz still complete۔ly wild.  Thick tangles of green bushes and plants struggle۔d for existence beneath a canopy of tall trees.  Birds chirp۔d, and a breeze carry۔ing the scent of pine rustle۔d tree branches.  On an almost level clearin a group of Christian devote۔ors – 17 young mans and womans wear۔ing gray robes and rubber sandals – camp۔d within sight of the rope bridge, dur they’s first day of a seven-days-long religious retreat.  They sit۔d in lotus position, foots tuck۔d beneath legcalfs, face۔ing Catholic priest Michael Donovan, a short thin bald man with intense brown eyes, stand۔ing on the low end of the slope.  In accordance with his custom before he start۔d instruction, the priest say۔d a silent prayer, ask۔ing God to help he transfer spiritual wisdom.  His topic that mornin wuz faith.

            When he final۔ly speak۔d, it wuz in a loud clear voice in England۔ese language, which slight۔ly echo۔d.  Faith reveal God in our souls.  It promote spiritual vitality and righteous fruitful۔ness.  It iz by our faith in God that we may enter the king۔dom of heaven.” 

            A young woman with brown hairs cut۔d short alike a boy’s, wear۔ing no cosmetics, ask۔d, “What iz the difference between faith and reason?”

            Answer۔d priest Donovan, “Reason iz the method of science, logic the tool of philosophy, faith the way of religion.  Faith iz not contrary to reason; it iz beyond reason, a high۔er faculty than reason, the supreme assertion of human thoughts.  Reason can question, and help stabilize faith, while faith can supplement both reason and logic.  Science rely on faith more than sciencors admit.  Evolve۔t religion rely entire۔ly on faith.

            Ask۔d a young man with a shave۔d head, “What about belief?”

            “Intellectual acceptance of a teach۔in as true iz mere belief, not faith.  Neither iz certainty nor conviction faith.  Belief attain the level of faith when it motivate life and shape behavior.”  He pause۔d.  “Dur recent۔est half-millennium, reason have gain۔d in popularity at the expense of faith.  And – admit۔ly – reason base۔d on logic and observation have produce۔d our wondrous technology—”

            A blood-curdle۔y scream shatter۔d the mornin’s tranquility, as all 17 devote۔ors swivel۔d they’s heads toward the bridge, off which a young man wear۔ing a yellow short·trouser had plunge۔d head-first toward the rock۔y stream – to what would have been his certain death do۔d not the finger۔thick black rubber cord attach۔d to his ankles slow, then halt, then final۔ly – not far from the rock۔y bottom – reverse his down۔ward motion, and yank he back up to the safety of the bridge.

            “…technology such as bungee cords,” the priest continue۔d (to snickers from his listen۔ors) “and, impressive۔ly, send۔ing peoples to our moon.  Yet faith iz even more powerful.  All things iz possible for they who have faith, accord۔in to the Bible.  In record۔t history nobody profess۔d more faith, and nobody perform۔d more miracles, than Jesus, who tell۔d we:  Faith can move mountains.”

            Say۔d Andrew, the only membor of the group with a substantial amount of flesh on his bones, "Mountains iz form۔d dur thousands of years by gradual collisions of continental plates far beneath planet Earth’s surface. How could faith move a mountain?"

            The question linger۔d alike the mornin mist trap۔t in the gulch.  Final۔ly the priest say۔d, “How could a mere carpentor become the guide۔ing light for billions of peoples around the planet dur thousands of years?  Jesus face۔d enormous obstacles, yet succeed۔d because his faith wuz absolute.”  Then with his rightside hand he gesture۔d on his chest the four ends of the crucifix, the signal for devote۔ors to shut they’s eyes in silent prayer. 

*

            Weekends wuz especial۔by busy for Skip Robinson's bungee tradeco, which had become popular with teenagors and young adults from as far away as Colorado province’s capital·city Denver.  Most wuz university students, or recent graduate۔ors, from middle or up۔er socialclass familys; they wear۔d style۔y clothes, own۔d or had access to cars, they’s residences contain۔d electronic·process۔ors and video·audio entertainment systems.  Few think۔d much about religion, which they and most of they’s peers consider۔d non۔relevant to the modern world; if press۔d, they would say they wuz agnostic.  What those present that Sunday mornin share۔d wuz adventurous dare۔ing (possess۔ing enough courage to jump off a bridge the height of an eight-floor·level۔y build۔in and free-fall head-first toward a rock۔y riverbed), and faith in technology (possess۔ing enough confidence to believe that before they’s head hit۔d the rock۔y riverbed the elastic cord tie۔d to they’s ankles would halt they’s fall and pull they back up).  What render۔d the siteplace particular۔ly entice۔y wuz the bridge itself:  old-fashion۔y, construct۔t of ropes, it’s floor line۔d with parallel planks, with two rope handrails on each side.  It constant۔ly sway۔d, both from foot·steps and from the breeze that blow۔d down·hill through the widen۔ing gulch.

            That sun۔y mornin at exact۔by nine oclock entreprenor Skip – at 36 years old, still with a V-shape torso, muscular arms and legs display۔d beyond his short-sleeve۔y “Dare to Bungee!” inscribe۔t red teeshirt and dark۔by blue short·trousers, and with blond hairs shave۔d to disguise his bald۔ness – step۔d out of his shack, the signal that his instructions to first-time۔ors would begin.  As he stride۔d toward the gather۔d youngstors, he survey۔d the womans, one of who he would target to sleep with that night.

            When all 21 jump۔ors had assemble۔d on a patch of lawn, Skip say۔d, “Before we begin jump۔ing, a brief introduction, begin۔ing with a bit of bungee history.  Dur decade 1950s a ship’s crew from England bring۔d back a video feature۔ing socald land dive۔ors from one of the Vanuatu islands in the Pacific Ocean east۔ward of Australia, show۔ing young mans jump۔ing from a tall wood۔y platform with vines tie۔d to they’s ankles, as tests of they’s courage.  The motion·photos inspire۔d Chris Bake۔or of Bristol, England, to utilize an elastic rope to imitate they’s feats.  The first modern bungee jump occur۔d dur year 1979 from the 245-foot high Clifton Suspension bridge in Bristol city, England, by four membors of Dangerous Sports Club.  The jump۔ors wuz afterward arrest۔t, but continue۔d bungee jump۔in, include۔ing here in North America from San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, thus spread۔ing the concept world-around.  By year 1982 they wuz leap۔ing from mobile cranes and hot air balloons.  The first commercial bungee jump۔in operate۔or wuz an Aotearoan, mistor A. J. Hackett, who had jump۔d from Eiffel Tower in Paris.  Dur the decades since then, the phenomenon have spread۔d around the planet.”  He add۔d, “The word bungee iz Aotearoa۔y England۔ese, slang for `elastic strap’.”

            “How safe iz it?” a petite redhead with a boy۔ish shape ask۔d.

            “Good question,” reply۔d Skip, to giggles.  “Despite the inherent danger of jump۔ing from a high height, several millions successful jumps have occur۔d since 1980.  That iz attribute۔able to bungee operate۔ors’ rigorous۔ly conform۔ing to standards and guidelines, such as double-check۔ing calculations and fitins for every jump.  Here we utilize only factory-produce۔t braid۔t shock cord, which iz comprise۔d of many latex strands enclose۔d in a tough outer cover – apply۔d when the latex iz pre-stress۔d, so that the cord's resistance to extension iz already significant at the cord's natural length.  It allow a hard۔er, sharp۔er bounce, and iz safe۔er and more durable than cheap۔er non۔braid۔t cords.  We offer both ankle attachments (which allow a great۔er sense of free-fall۔ing) and harnesses (in which some jump۔ors feel more secure).  I personal۔ly check each jump۔or – twice.”

            An athletic-appear۔ing black۔by skin۔y man ask۔d, “Once you show we how to do it, cant we purchase our own bungee cords and jump by ourselfs?”

            Skip shake۔d his head side-to-side, no.  “Too dangerous.  A relative۔by common mistake – one you will never have to worry about here – iz utilize۔ing too long a cord.  The cord must be substantial۔ly short۔er than the height of the jump۔in platform to allow it room to stretch.  How much short۔er depend on the cord’s factory specifications, and on the jump۔or’s body massweight.  Even such considerations as wind speed, if significant, must be factor۔t in.  Amateurs tend to overestimate the permit۔able length of the cord – a mistake that if act۔d upon would be fatal.  Therefore it iz wise۔er to pay for professional bungee expertise such as yous get here.”  Pause.  “By the way, if somethin do go wrong and you crash head-first into a boulder, we offer a full refund.”

            Laughs and giggles, mix۔d with a few frowns.

            “What if we decide not to jump?” ask۔d a brunette, her boobs and buttocks bulge۔ing out of her black bikini.

            “Your decision, ofcourse,” assure۔d Skip with a friend۔y smile.  “But if you change your mind, our policy iz not to refund your money.”  He look۔d around the crowd.  “One other thing:  the bridge bounce and sway, especial۔ly with many peoples on it.  Therefore, under all circumstances, always hold tight۔ly to the rope handrail with atleast one hand.  We dont want anybody jump۔ing without a bungee!”  He wait۔d while several in the group giggle۔d.  “We have never had an injury here, and I intend to keep it that way.  If no other questions, lets begin.”

            With a shout everybody head۔d toward the bridge, some trot۔ing.  First in the queue wuz a tall muscular man wear۔ing a blue-and-white stripe۔y short·trouser.  All watch۔d while Skip fasten۔d one end of a black elastic bungee cord around his ankles, and double-check۔d to be certain the other end wuz secure۔ly fasten۔d to both of the bridge’s floor ropes.

            The young man step۔d over the rope handrail, plant۔d both bare foot on the edge of the wood۔y plank bridge, and tiltlean۔d forward as if soon to dive into deep water.  As he dive۔d off, he utter۔d a terrify۔y shout.   Down۔ward, down۔ward he fall۔d, head-first, hands spread۔d out۔ward from his sides alike wings.  When he had reach۔d almost to the bottom, his body slow۔d, then momentary۔ly stop۔d, then – as he emit۔d a shout of joy -- rise۔d back up۔ward with apparent۔by equal speed, until he reach۔d almost to the bridge, whenupon he grab۔d hold of a hang۔in rope ladder, and from there scramble۔d up۔ward.

            "I·iz a new man!" he exclaim۔d with delight as he step۔d over the rope handrail.  "The jump change۔d my life!"

            For the remain۔or of the mornin the young peoples stay۔d on the bridge watch۔ing and wait۔ing they’s opportunity, or, as some say۔d, "Gather۔ing courage.”  In they’s colorful nylon skin-tight clothe۔in they stand۔d and sit۔d, flaunt۔ing they’s bodys, lean and strong, glisten۔ing with physical and sexual energy. 

*

            On the wild side of the gulch, priest Donovan wuz regret۔ing, with increase۔y irritation, his choice of the retreat spot.  Thick with pine trees, ap half-day’s hike on that side of the river from the near۔est road, the location had been, nine summers early۔er when he had lead۔d a similar retreat, idyllic۔by suit۔able.  He had not know۔d about the construction of the bridge, and, on the far cliff, the shack and park·landlot.  Every few minutes blood-curdle۔y screams emit۔d from bungee jump۔ors on they’s way down۔ward, follow۔t by shouts of joy as they head۔d back up۔ward to safety, clear۔ly distract۔ing the devote۔ors from they’s meditation and they’s reflections on the whisper-alike subtletys of religion.  It prove۔d impossible for everybody but hisself to refrain from glance۔ing at a man or woman free-fall۔ing from the dizzy۔y height head-first toward the boulders.  On neither side of the steep gulch wuz a place from which the spectacle could not be see۔t and earhear۔t.  The devote۔ors, the 51-year-old priest suspect۔d, secret۔ly enjoy۔d the distraction.

            Final۔ly, ap mid۔day, priest Donovan, succumb۔ing to the collective will of the devote۔ors, lead۔d an expedition of eight toward the bungee shack for sodas and snacks.  They hike۔d across steep terrain, grab۔ing onto vines and bushes for support, final۔ly, one by one, step۔d onto the flimsy bridge.

            As they approach۔d mid-bridge, the differences between the two groups seem۔d accentuate۔t.  The bungee jump۔ors, wear۔d skimp۔y fashion۔y clothe۔in, showcase۔ing the mans’ muscles and the womans’ curves, skin glisten۔ing tan from sunrays; they’s chatter wuz loud and bold.  The devote۔ors, pale and thin, clothe۔d neck to ankles in form۔less gray robes, silent۔ly exchange۔d glances or soft۔ly murmur۔d to one another. 

            Reach۔ing the bridge’s center, where nine jump۔ors watch۔d Skip strap a muscular young woman into a leather harness, the devote۔ors slow۔d.  Because on the bounce۔ing, sway۔ing bridge, it wuz imperative to tight۔ly grasp the rope handrail at all times, pass۔ing the jump۔ors would require they’s cooperation and, from everybody, caution and patience.

            Skip, after double-check۔ing all three buckles of the harness, look۔d up at the gray-robe۔clad newcomors.  He stand۔d and say۔d in his hearty sales۔man’s voice, “You iz welcome to cross my bridge.  You will find food and drinks in the store.”  He point۔d leftside۔ward toward the white shack.  “And if any if you want to jump—“

            Your bridge?” question۔d the priest, a wisp of a man compare۔d to the tall muscular bungee enterprise own۔ort.

            “Design۔t and pay۔t for by none other than myself, with the county’s permission ofcourse.”

            Priest Donovan glance۔d at the woman in the harness, whose young brow wuz wrinkle۔y with fear, then glance۔d down۔ward at the sliver of ankle۔deep water which snake۔d it’s way around giant boulders appear۔ing no big۔er than grapes.   Above the thick green forest on the wild rightside of the river glide۔d a black crow.  Comment۔d the priest, “Dangerous.”

            “Our sport?  It iz, if not professional۔ly supervise۔t,” agree۔d Skip.

            "Careful," Donovan advise۔d.  "Wind gusts sometime whip through here.  Once we experience۔d a gust that blow۔d over all our tents.  Strong enough, I suspect, to shake this bridge up·side·down."

            "Yes, I know.  The winds can indeed be vicious, but only dur storm۔y weather."

            "Probable۔ly true." 

            "And today iz not even cloud۔y."  Both mans look۔d up at the slice of pure۔by blue sky between the ridges.  A breeze, barely notice۔able, cool۔d the air.

            “So what·iz the point?” ask۔d priest Donovan, try۔ing to conceal any negativity from his tone.

            “Why bungee jump?” Skip snort۔d in disgust, survey۔ing the newcomors.  They all appear۔d meek, timid, weak.  He could not imagine share۔ing sex with any of the womans, who had apparent۔ly render۔d theyselfs as un۔attractive as possible.  "For the thrill, ofcourse!"

            Thrill-seek۔ors wuz ap as far away from God-seek۔ors as the priest could imagine.  "Have you analyze۔d this thrill?”

            Skip’s business wuz sell۔ing thrills, and he dint appreciate being challenge۔t in front of his customors.  "I·iz not in the habit of analyze۔ing thrills."

            “The thrill of survive۔ing, after risk۔ing death?”

            "The risk iz miniscule.  Statistic۔ly, bungee jump۔in iz safe۔er than mountain climb۔in, car speedrace۔in, hangglide۔in, probable۔ly ski۔ing and many other sports.  I have supervise۔d a hundred or more jumps per weekend every summer for seven years, without one injury.”

            "Beside the thrill of plummet۔ing to within a few foots of the riverbed and being jerk۔t back up again to the bridge, iz there not an add۔d thrill of wonder۔ing whether or not the bungee will break?”

            Skip – react۔ing to another challenge to the heart of his business – reach۔d down and pick۔d up the black cord.  "These rubber chords iz precision manufacture۔t, guarantee۔t to stretch to the specify۔t length and no far۔er.  See, it iz stamp۔t on the rubber in white letters:  75 foot.  Eight foots short of the near۔est rock.  Under no circumstance will it stretch even one foot long۔er.”

            "Accord۔in to the factory."

            "Accord۔in to factory machines," Skip correct۔d he.  "Every speck of the entire 75 foots length have been check۔t for flaws by electronic۔ly control۔t lasers.”

            "Machines manufacture۔t and control۔t by peoples," the priest remind۔d he.

            “Sure.”

            “Thus your faith in machines and peoples must be pretty strong.”

            Skip think۔d for a moment and reply۔d, "Admit۔ly, jump۔ing off the bridge with nothin but a rubber cord between you and certain death iz a leap of faith."

            "But faith in peoples iz risk۔y.  Faith in God iz safe۔er."

            "I wuz expect۔ing you to start with that God stuff,” retort۔d Skip anger۔ly.  “I·will put my faith in what I can see, earhear, smell, touch, and taste, above some non۔visible thing nobody can describe or have prove۔d to exist."

            "Then for you, the high۔est goal iz material pleasure?"

            "You only live once, therefore enjoy yourself as much as you can – that iz my philosophy.  And" -- he turn۔d brief۔ly toward the other jump۔ors, all who wuz listen۔ing the conversation – “most of they would agree.  Ofcourse that include not do۔ing anythin that would harm others."

            "Whereas my aspiration iz to ascend to the next spiritual level.”

            "Mine iz to purchase a mansion, marry a beautyful woman, drive a Rolls Royce car, enjoy long vacations on my yacht, and consume plenty of good food and drink – share۔d, ofcourse, with friends," Skip elaborate۔d, glance۔ing at his choice for the night, a shape۔ly young lady wear۔ing a red bikini, who, brown eyes sparkle۔ing, smile۔d back.

            Affirm۔d the priest, "Mine iz to see past the clutter of peoples to the world of God."

            "Mere۔ly an excuse, a mind trick, because you lack what it iz require۔d to succeed.  Instead of admit۔ing your failure, you pretend you dont want the good things in life."

            "Contrary۔ly, the material world iz only a test۔in ground for the real world of spiritual development,” contradict۔d the priest, speak۔ing as much to his adversary as to the devote۔ors and bungee jump۔ors nearby. “What matters at the end of your life iz not how much pleasure you have experience۔d or how many things you own, but how close you have become to God, and consequent۔ly how you love۔d, what you give۔d, whether, in sumtotal, you hinder۔d or help۔d."

             “We·have all earhear۔d the adage:  religion iz the opiate of peoples,” say۔d Skip.  “Religion iz alike a drug, a way to escape real life."

            Donovan draw۔d in his breath noise۔ly.  "Excessive materialism iz the opiate of peoples."

            Skip, a former middle·school and university wrestle۔or and award-win۔in house-appliance sales۔man who had never know۔d fear, and who despise۔d fear in others, feel۔d increase۔ing anger.  He hold۔d forth the bungee cord.  “Want to try?”

            The priest laugh۔d.  "No thanks.  Thrills iz only temporary, while bliss iz everlast۔y."

            Skip snort۔d, barely refrain۔ing from utter۔ing the word `coward’, which could have insult۔d his customors.  Instead he ask۔d, "Which would you rather have protect۔ing you when you jump off a bridge:  a bungee cord, or God?"

            The question hang۔d in the air, as a gust of wind as though on cue rock۔d the bridge, which then sway۔d.

            "Bungee, correct?" prod۔d Skip, grin۔ing with self۔satisfaction.

            "God," priest Donovan answer۔d. 

            "Then lets both jump off the bridge side by side, I with no God but with faith in my bungee cord, you with no bungee cord with your faith in God."

            Silence.  Then laughter erupt۔d from some of the jump۔ors, they’s faces express۔ing admiration for the arguement Skip had utilize۔d to outwit the priest.  The Christian devote۔ors wuz all frown۔ing, eye۔ing they’s mentor with concern۔y expressions.

            Prod۔d Skip, “Do we have a deal?”  He slip۔d on an angle collar, and to it snap۔d on the free end of the bungee cord, then turn۔d back to the priest.  “What do you say?"  He scan۔d his youthful customors, some still smile۔ing wide۔ly, then turn۔d back to the priest.  "What iz the matter?  Speech۔less?  Ha, ha, ha!"

            Donovan answer۔d, "Alright.  We will jump together, you safeguard۔t by your bungee cord, I safeguard۔t by God."

            “Good,” Skip reply۔d, his adrenaline surge۔ing.

            The two mans shake۔d they’s rightside hands to seal the agreement.

            Devote۔or Andrew cry۔d out, Dont!  No one could survive such a fall!"

            Priest Donovan turn۔d to he.  "My faith iz strong.  As sure as I iz stand۔ing on this bridge, God will protect me from harm."

            "But..."  Devote۔or Andrew point۔d to another of the bungee cords on the plank floor.  "Justincase?"

            The other seven devote۔ors nod۔d vigorous۔ly in agreement.

            "Ha, ha, ha!” laugh۔d Skip.  "Sure, go ahead, monk, or priest or whatever you iz.  Fasten on a bungee cord justincase.  Ha, ha!”

            Priest Donovan turn۔d to he.  "If I agree to tie on a bungee cord justincase, will you agree to say a prayer justincase?" 

            "No."  Skip stubborn۔ly fold۔d his muscular forearms.  He turn۔d to Randy, a squat black-hairs۔y man, one of the regular jump۔ors who often assist۔d at the store.  "Harness he to a bungee," Skip direct۔d.  “No fee require۔t.  If the fool jump to his death off my bridge, it will hurt my tradeco.”

            "I decline your offer."  Priest Donovan bow۔d formal۔ly.  "It wuz not for a bungee cord for myself, that I propose۔d amend۔ing our deal, but to coax you to pray.  I have no need for a bungee.  God, not any man, iz responsible for my life."

            Skip turn۔d to the listen۔ors.  “You earhear۔d he.  He refuse۔d a free bungee.  If he jump anyway, not my fault.”

            The mood of colorful۔ly dress۔d bungee jump۔ors had pass۔d from amuse۔d laughter to brow-wrinkle۔ing concern.

            “Dont test God,” caution۔d the priest.

            “I·iz afraid of nobody and nothin,” shout۔d Skip, “certain۔ly not some imaginary God!”  As if to prove his point, he thrust۔d his fist toward the sky, where many Christians believe۔d God to reside, and from his fist extend۔d the finger adjacent to his index finger – the ultimate obscene gesture.

            A chorus of astonish۔y gasps emit۔d from devote۔ors and jump۔ors.  The faces of the jump۔ors, who perhaps do۔d not believe in a high۔er power but wuz respectful of those who do۔d, express۔d clear۔by un۔comfort.

            The priest’s pale face become۔d pink, but he say۔d nothin.

            Skip look۔d over at he.  "Ready?   We both jump, me with my bungee cord, you with your God."

            Priest Donovan nod۔d up and down, agree۔ing.  He look۔d over at his devote۔ors, ignore۔ing they’s silent plead۔in to change his mind. 

            "Goodbye," Andrew utter۔d, as though about to weep.

            Skip stoop۔d down to re۔check that his ankle collar wuz secure۔ly buckle۔d.

            Priest Donovan, stand۔ing on the rightside of Skip, his hands grip۔ing the rope handrail, gaze۔d not down۔ward but up۔ward, into cloud-less blue sky.  He feel۔d in communion with God, who he know۔d would save he.  How, wuz God's problem, and not his on which to speculate.  But he worry۔d – especial۔ly after the blasphemous gesture – about the safety of his adversary, whose life depend۔d on only a mass۔manufacture۔t rubber cord.

            "Ready?"  Skip ask۔d Donovan, grin۔ing self-confident۔ly.

            "Ready," confirm۔d Donovan.

            "We jump at the same time, agree۔d?"  Skip affirm۔d.

            "Same time.  Agree۔d."

            Skip turn۔d back.  "Then Randy, count three, and then shout:  jump."

            "Ready:  climb outside the rope handrail,” Randy call۔d out.

            Both Skip and Donovan climb۔d over the ropes, the priest rightside۔ward of the tradeco own۔or, they’s bare foot perch۔d on the edge of the wood-plank bridge floor, hands behind they grip۔ing the rope handrail.

            "One," Randy call۔d out. 

            Devote۔or Andrew cry۔d out, "No, dont!"

            Priest Donovan turn۔d anger۔ly at Andrew, whose forehead wuz wrinkle۔d with worry.  "Compare۔d to move۔ing mountains, what iz stop۔ing a fall?  Have you no faith?"

            "Two..." Randy continue۔d.

            "What iz the matter?" sneer۔d Skip.  "Your look۔d worry۔d.  Afraid?”

            "Yes," admit۔d Christian priest Donovan.  "You iz jump۔ing with only your bungee cord.  Would it hurt you to say a little prayer ask۔ing God to forgive your mockery?"

            Skip answer۔d, "I·iz not superstitious.  Pray to what?"  He turn۔d un۔patient۔ly to his assist۔or, who nevertheless remain۔d silent.

            "Three...," Skip hisself continue۔d the count.  To the priest he say۔d, "If you have the courage, now iz the time!"

            Priest Donovan nod۔d his consent.

            "Jump!"

            Both mans stoop۔d, knees bend۔d, hands reach۔d back, hold۔ing the rope.  Then both mans leap۔d clear of the bridge.

            Both hold۔d out they’s arms, Skip being trail۔t by the bungee cord, Donovan free fall۔ing.

            Down۔ward they plummet۔d, as a fierce gust of wind whip۔d through the gulch, violent۔ly rock۔ing the rope bridge.  A colorful۔ly garb۔d young woman shriek۔d with fright, and would have been blow۔d off if not for quick-think۔in Randy who grab۔d her arm.  Others -- devote۔ors and bungee jump۔ors both -- cling۔d desperate۔ly to the rope handrails.  As they re۔gain۔d they’s balance, all look۔d down۔ward.

            Below, both mans wuz still fall۔ing, but had been whip۔t out۔ward, down·river and rightside۔ward (away from the water, toward the wild side of the gulch) by the sudden gust.

            Skip, heavy۔er, wuz being blow۔t diagonal۔ly toward the boulder-strew۔d river shore.  His quick mind, supplement۔t by experience, calculate۔d that the force of the sudden gust would probable۔ly stretch the bungee cord beyond the manufacture۔or’s state۔t length limit, but because he wuz being blow۔t diagonal۔ly and down·river the increase۔d distance would not result in his hit۔ing the rock۔y river shore.

            Priest Donovan, light۔er, his gray robe flap۔ing noise۔ly behind he, wuz being blow۔t even far۔er rightside۔ward away from the river, toward thick۔by forest۔y pine trees.  Not aware of the gust, his mind focus۔d on the sensation of free-fall۔ing.  He feel۔d wonderful, free as a bird.

            Skip meanwhile, approach۔ing the boulder-strew۔d shore down·river from the bridge, know۔d that his bungee cord would soon reach it’s maximum length.  Calm۔ly he anticipate۔d the familiar moment of ecstasy, when near-death would be avoid۔t, gravity defy۔t, his direction reverse۔t. 

            A moment later his bungee cord reach۔d it’s maximum 75-foot length, at a speed and with a force – because of the powerful gust – great۔er than if he had drop۔d straight down۔ward, great۔er than the limit test۔d at the factory.

            Snap!

            Skip's bungee cord snap۔d into two almost equal sections, send۔ing the big man head-first into a boulder the size of a car.

            Thump!  The sound of flesh and bones smash۔ing against rock.

            Donovan, with light۔er body massweight, and have۔ing start۔d far۔er rightside۔ward, wuz blow۔d away from the riverbed to above the forest.  As he approach۔d the tree-tops, he instinct۔ly roll۔d into a summersault position, head tuck۔d down, arms fold۔d across knees.

            Swish! 

            He fall۔d onto a tall pine tree.

            The tree sway۔d, and bounce۔d he onto the up۔er branches of an adjacent pine tree, whose branches bend۔d with his massweight – as he continue۔d to fall, layer after layer, with diminish۔ing speed, until final۔ly he wuz able to grab hold of a branch to halt his down۔ward movement.  Daze۔y, he gradual۔ly climb۔d down to the forest floor.

*

            Above, on the bridge, still rock۔ing from the sudden gust, bungee jump۔ors and devote۔ors tiltlean۔d over the edge and gasp۔d in horror at Skip's crumple۔y body on the boulder, the gray rock drip۔ing with red blood.  The priest, have۔ing disappear۔d into the trees, wuz nowhere in sight.

            The bungee jump۔ors quick۔ly but careful۔ly scramble۔d off the bridge toward the bungee shack, some of the womans wail۔ing hysteric۔ly.

            The devote۔ors all hurry۔d to the wild end of the bridge.  Five of the males climb۔d down the steep hill, bare foots stumble۔ing on rock۔y soil, until they reach۔d bottom, some call۔ing, as though point۔lessly, for they’s beloved teach۔or.

            Then from the forest appear۔d they’s priest, limpwalk۔ing toward they, his face and arms and legs cover۔d with red scratches, gray robe tear۔d in several places.

            "Priest Donovan!  Priest Donovan!"  The devote۔ors run۔d toward he, they’s robes flow۔ing, alike lost sheeps whose shepherd had re۔appear۔d.

            Devote۔or Andrew fall۔d down at the man’s foot.  "We have witness۔d a miracle!"

            "Not a miracle," the teach۔or correct۔d his student.  "A demonstration of faith."

            Andrew nod۔d.  “The timely gust.  A non۔visible force dispatch۔t by a non۔visible force.”

            Rather than tarry, the priest limpwalk۔d past they to the river's edge, to where on a high boulder lay۔d the dead body of Skip Robinson.

            Soon bungee jump۔ors and devote۔ors gather۔d around, many of the womans weep۔ing.

            Priest Donovan gesture۔d with the sign of the crucifix.  "Lets now all pray for his soul."

*       *       *

To write a comment about the story or the language, click here.

This story is from a collection of Christian short stories, Christianity, by Flora Morales.  Click link for details.

You have read the story in species language Peoplese, Alike English version.  Did you notice how the spelling of the root word never changes?  How the past tense is always formed by adding hyphnette "d"?  For a quick overview, read Peoplese home page.

So are you ready for pure Peoplese?  The Sound Spell Same (SSS) version completely eliminates the need to memorize spelling words -- because if you hear a word, you know exactly how to spell it, if you read a word you know exactly how to pronounce it.  A 7-year-old boy, after five 15-minute learning sessions, henceforth could spell any of thousands of words in SSS Peoplese.

Spend 20 minutes reading the Peoplese SSS page, and you are ready to go.

To read the above story in Peoplese SSS, click here.              green-giraffe.org home page.