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The Finisher: Flash Fiction by Author Jennifer Arnett

Updated on January 30, 2016
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Jennifer has made several of her stories available for free on Hubpages. Please visit her Kindle Author page for samples from her books.

The Finisher-a flash fiction story.
The Finisher-a flash fiction story. | Source

Failed From the Start

Teddy Thermopolis never finished anything besides being born—and even that was helped along by an emergency c-section. It wasn't that he didn't want to finish what he started—it was that circumstances outside of his control always seemed to rear their ugly heads at exactly the wrong moment.

In grade school, he joined the basketball team, practicing all summer with his dad until he could make a basket 9 times out of 10 from the free-throw line. His coach was thrilled by his lucky hand, but on the morning of his first game, he was riding his bike to school, fell off, and broke his arm in 4 different places. Three surgeries, and a few screws later, he had missed too many days to finish the fourth grade.

Then in 10th grade, one hour into the SAT, the sandwich he'd eaten the night before, unbeknownst to him, was fuzzy on one side of the bread, and it came back up with a vengeance. Any questions he had answered were covered in an orange froth, complements of his mother's famous peach jam.

Unable to get into a 4 year University, Teddy Thermopolis joined the Marines straight out of High School. He spent six weeks in 2004 living in a cave in Afghanistan. He had narrowed down Bin Laden's location to two 15 mile long chambers with fourteen different access points.

One day, his riffle sights on one of the openings, he saw Bin Laden and his entourage moving supplies into the cave. He calibrated his scope, with Bin Laden's head taking up the majority of his view. Just before moving his finger onto the trigger, he shifted his weight into a better position to offset the recoil, and landed his left thigh on a scorpion. Reeling in pain, he accidentally discharged his rifle, giving away his position, and spooking Bin Laden. A bullet to the shoulder gave him an honorable discharge—and Bin Laden's location went undisclosed for the next five years.

The reason the war lasted so long.
The reason the war lasted so long. | Source

A Misfire Homecoming

Coming home as a war torn vet, his physical and emotional wounds found healing in the sympathetic arms of Sarah Fritter, a gorgeous Texan blonde with a fetish for wounded men in uniform. He healed, she loved, and a ring soon marked them for marriage. However, a malfunctioning elevator in the parking lot of his suit rental shop, caused Sarah Fritter to walk the wedding aisle alone.

And so, Teddy Thermopolis found himself as a slightly overweight, single, forty year old, with no accolades to his name. He attempted a college degree, but a computer glitch at the registrar's office, forced him to start back over as a freshman the last quarter before graduation. He tried to run a marathon, training religiously for three months, but wrote down the start time wrong and showed up during the award ceremony.

He even tried to join a photography club, became quite proficient at it, and was asked to show some of his prints at a local art museum, but an electrical fire fried his hard drive, burned down his house, and left him with nothing.

He pulled himself up by his bootstraps and, with determination, started all over again. But no matter what he did, his life was full of unfinished books, puzzles with missing pieces his dog ate, household projects gone awry, half-baked casseroles, and failed attempts at everything he touched.

Something to finish.
Something to finish. | Source

Something to Finish

It had always been a lifelong dream for Teddy Thermopolis to walk the Golden Gate Bridge. As he walked the narrow sidewalk above the entrance to the Bay, he thought of all his failures. Surely no one else had as bad luck as him, he thought. Maybe he was cursed?

He had read in the paper a few months ago, how suicide attempts on the bridge had an almost perfect mortality rate. Judging by how many hotline telephones lined the walkway, it was clearly one of the more popular venues.

This is it, he thought, something I can finish. He climbed up on the railing, made his peace, and let go of the post he was hanging onto. His body wobbled back and forth as he balanced on the railing. The view below made his stomach turn.

He closed his eyes and tried to imagine the feeling of flying weightlessly, then SMASH. He jerked his eyes open just as a gust of wind burst at his face and caused him to topple backwards onto the cement, He hit his head, blacked out, and woke up in a mental hospital.

It was just another item to add to the long list of things Teddy Thermopolis didn't finish.

© 2015 Jennifer Arnett

Thanks for Reading! I'd Love to Hear What You Think.

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      jjkhawaiian 4 months ago

      Great, but sad story. Poor Teddy. Most agreed. I'm glad, but predicted, his end wouldn't be landing into the Pacific Ocean. Maybe his days in the mental institution would at long last bring him peace? One can dream : )

    • Availiasvision profile image

      Jennifer Arnett 2 years ago from California

      Thanks Lee. Even I feel sorry for poor Teddy, but isn't life like that sometimes? I think everyone has felt like bad luck follows them at one time or another. Teddy is sadly relatable.

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      Lee Cloak 2 years ago

      Great flash, with a fantastic ending, well done, i feel for poor aul Teddy, thanks, voted up, Lee

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      Amusing yet sad. It's true some people seem to get the wrong side of the coin all the time for no apparent reason. At least it worked once in his favour!

      Good story, well told.


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      Jennifer Arnett 3 years ago from California

      Yep, sometimes bad luck can be a good thing.

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      Jennifer Arnett 3 years ago from California

      I love your alternate ending, Fatboythin. Thanks for reading and commenting. I see this as post-modern dark humor. I think a lot of people feel their luck isn't the best, kind of like roadrunner and Wylie Coyote; they try, try, try, but they only get spinning wheels.

    • FatBoyThin profile image

      Colin Garrow 3 years ago from Kinneff, Scotland

      Great story, Jennifer, but a little sad - poor guy. (I was expecting that he'd hit the deck of a ship and be paralysed from the neck down, ruminating on his lack of abilities for the rest of his life).

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      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Poor Teddy! It's a good thing his walk on the bridge was botched. Too bad he ended up in a mental hospital, though.

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      Jennifer Arnett 3 years ago from California

      Thanks Bill, sometimes bad luck can be a good thing.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 3 years ago from sunny Florida

      O my, Teddy just gave new meaning to

      'having a bad day'---his life was a comedy of errors and would have been funny had it not been that some do have this many things happen.

      Well done.

      Voted up++++ and shared shared

      Angels are on the way to you this evening ps

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      "If it wasn't for bad luck I'd have no luck at all." :) I love his name...and I love your ability to spin a tale. :) Have a great weekend, Jen.