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The Finisher: Flash Fiction by Author Jennifer Arnett
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.
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
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.
Other Short Fiction By Jennifer Arnett
- Ghost Town: A Short Story by Author Jennifer Arnett
A newlywed couple hikes to a ghost town in the Mojave desert and finds that the town isn't completely abandoned.
- Last Train to Genoa: A Short Story by Author Jennife...
Ben gets a little help from an aging musician while trying to decide which train to take. It's more than a departure ticket, it's a choice he will have to live with for the rest of his life.
- The Bridge to Nowhere: A Short Story by Author Jenni...
Author Jennifer Arnett is offering her short story, The Bridge to Nowhere for free to the HubPages Community. A hike, a creepy cult, and the power of manipulation might cost Anna more than her soul.
© 2015 Jennifer Arnett