Bingo Twistleby Anonymous
You are at the airport of a city you’ve never been to before. Your plane landed twenty minutes ago for what is supposed to be a five day business trip. Unknown to your co-workers, your suitcase contains more than fresh undies, some clothes and a toothbrush. Your helmet, body armour and kneepads barely fit in. Earlier, the airport security officer asked you about the contents of your carry-on luggage. The sweat crept up your back, but he allowed you to pass after you whispered something about a parachute and skydiving. A thorough inspection could easily have ruined everything.
The plan had been formulated four days earlier. Weeks of discussion had transformed a mission impossible into a scheme so brilliant that only the best would understand. On Zipday we flooz the bingo twistle. Then rest maybe grap dingo chomp chomp. Xanadu, flipmode squash on seven Q’s bongo.
Your colleagues are getting in a taxi to go to the hotel. You tell them you’re having lunch with a friend first and will catch up later. One phone call to your accomplice and minutes later you are picked up from the airport. Cursing the traffic, you look out over the vast city landscape. In the distance you see a crane. You ask your friend how high he thinks it is. He says you can find out yourself. The crane is in the neighbourhood of your hotel. The plan hasn’t started and already you are thinking of ways to accomodate this new potential.
Four hours and a lunch later, you finally make your way through city traffic and approach the hotel. The crane is no longer on your mind when suddenly you turn around a corner and it is right there, in your face. You put your nose against the window, trying to catch a glimpse of the beam. Your head swivels in all directions looking for potential landing areas and getaways. Suddenly you lunge forward into your seatbelt as the car screams to a halt. “We’re here,” your friend says, “this is your hotel.”
Dumbstruck, you can’t believe that the first object you spot in this city turns out to be only two hundred yards from the hotel you are staying in. Blaming fate, you decide that the plan will have to make room. The car is parked and the two of you walk over to the object to laser it and scout for landing areas. The tip of the beam hangs right over a busy six lane street. Counting the number of storeys in the building, you estimated it static-linable. Now you’re looking through the range-finder and can’t believe the magic number written on the LCD display. It’s your hard deck, your limit: the height at which you start thinking about turning that static-line or PCA jump into the definition of base jumping. You can go and throw.
Fast forward two days. Part of the plan has been accomplished and the letter B is now officially yours. Unfortunately, your partner in crime pulled a muscle on this jump and he decides to rest for a few days. Meanwhile you spent some time with colleagues satisfying the business trip’s intended purpose. Coming back, you walk into your hotel room and the stash-bag catches your eye. You dump its contents onto the floor and start looking around the room. There is barely room for line stretch, but you decide it’s not an obstacle, it’s a challenge. Fifty minutes later your old personal record for packing in tight places is shattered and you put the rig into the stash-bag.
Your friend is too sore to jump but he generously offers to ground-crew. There is no wind, the street seems quiet enough at night and the crane is oriented exactly right. The plan quickly emerges during a delicious sushi dinner, and you decide that next time you’re in this city, the crane will be gone. Now, or never.
Just ten minutes after midnight, a car stops at the back of the building site. The door opens and a dark figure carrying a bag appears. He makes his way towards the fence while the car drives around the corner. Quickly but silent the figure hops over the fence and dashes towards the shadows. Nobody had a chance to see him, and city life continues as if nothing happened. Hiding behind some piles of brick, you take your helmet out of your stashbag and put it on.Next, you grab your cellphone and call groundcrew. He’s only a block away, and yet this phone call is routed from one country to another and back, making for a very expensive long distance call. You stick your cellphone in between your head and helmet where it allows you to talk with both hands free. Try that with a radio. One of these days you will buy a proper headset, you promise yourself.
If people would have any interest in building sites and cranes, they could notice a person climbing up the ladders. The bottom hundred feet of the crane are basked in a sea of light. Big halogen lights brighten that side of the building, and the climber seems to make haste to get into the darker section as quickly as possible. Fortunately for him, people prefer staring at the ground, avoiding contact with other people as much as possible.Closer to the top of the crane, you start worrying about the cabin. It is blocking the entrance to the beam and unless the hatch is open, you have to climb around it on the outside of the crane. You’d be wearing your rig in case you fall, but an unstable exit that close to the building won’t ever classify as a forgiving jump. You give the hatch a little nudge and it seems to move. Pushing harder, the hatch opens up and you sneak your way into the cabin. Shielded from the outside world this is a great place to gear up. Almost ready for the final stretch, you take a break to suck in the view. Overlooking a city you have never been to before, three hundred feet above the ground in the middle of the night, it feels familiar. A thousand miles away, you suddenly feel at home.
What you are definitely not familiar with is the beam of this crane. As you climb through the second hatch on top of the cabin, you see your worst nightmare come true. What you had already suspected from the ground becomes a reality when you are frantically trying to find some sort of catwalk.Instead, all you see is a thin rail that allows a platform to wheel out to the end. Unable to use this platform now, you are going to have to climb along the rail itself. This means side-stepping on the outside of the beam, holding on to metal structures too thick for your hand to fully wrap around.
You remind yourself that this would be a breeze if it were only three feet off the ground. You remind yourself that you should always keep three points of contact, and only move one limb at a time. You remind yourself not to look down, but then realize you thrive on staring into the gaping void that lies underneath any exit point. Suddenly cheerful, you share this information with your groundcrew and ask him not to disturb you for the next ten minutes. This requires total focus.
In a world that consists of only two hands, two feet, a metal structure and a three hundred foot gap, you feel more alone than ever. Oblivious to the people walking underneath, you make your way towards the end of the beam. Arriving there, you find yourself on a small platform no more than two feet square. You get in touch with your groundcrew and explain to him you are about to do final gear checks.
You reach back to check your bridle and velcro and notice your right flap feels weird. You realize that your overzealous desire to prime your velcro has come to haunt you at the worst possible time. Standing on the tiniest of platforms with hardly any railing, you now have to take off your rig to close the right flap.
Five minutes later you put the rig on for the second time that day. You take out the pilotchute and route your bridle along the velcro on your shoulder. Meanwhile, your groundcrew tells you he has put the tailgate of his truck down. After your canopy opens, he will pull out into the street, blocking the lane you land in. You will then jump onto the back of his truck and drive off.
Behind you, the street makes a turn into the distance. Just as a car comes into view, you start counting. No more than 23 seconds later the car is exactly underneath you. As long as no new car appears on the street when the last one drives underneath, you’ll have a 23 second gap to jump, fly and land.
Your groundcrew, friend, accomplice and partner in crime tells you to have a good one. You tell him that you have no regrets and that you’ll see him in a few minutes. You then hang up the phone, take it from between your ear and the helmet and put it in your pocket. Your toes move to the edge of the platform as you keep looking over your shoulder to find a gap in between traffic.You pass up on several promising opportunities. Every time you’re just about to go headlights appear in the distance, ruining your chance to jump. Fifteen minutes pass and you are wondering if your groundcrew may think something is wrong. Then suddenly you notice the white van driving underneath you. You look back over your shoulder and see that no other car has appeared yet. Is this it? No time to think! One last glance around to see if there is traffic anywhere, and then a countdown.
3.. 2.. 1.. CYA!
You leap off the edge with your eyes on the horizon. A nice stable exit and less than a count later you pitch your pilotchute. Your hands start reaching up in anticipation for the risers while your head moves down to give your eyes a peek at the asphalt below you. As groundrush starts settling in, you hear the comfortable sound of velcro ripping apart. A split second later you find yourself under a perfectly flying canopy, on heading. In front of you an empty road ready to be landed in. Behind you, momentarily blinded by the headlights, you recognize the truck of your friend.
You flare and run out the landing, quickly trying to pull the canopy down to the ground. You bundle it up as the truck pulls up besides you. You throw the canopy in the back of the truck and jump on. Just as you duck for cover, you notice the car in the corner of your eye: police!
Yelling to your friend that he should get the hell out of here, you look over your shoulder to see the police car turn around in pursuit. The world around you disappears as images of arrests and jail start exploding in your head. Is this still a game? Is this still worth it? Will this be the last jump with this gear? What about the business trip? Hell, what about ever setting foot in this country again?
“Run into the hotel!” your friend screams, bringing you back to your senses. Suddenly jerked back into reality, you notice you are in front of the hotel lobby. You quickly jump out and make a run towards the door.
The hotel lobby personnel are having a night like any other. Some chit chat with guests, helping people with their luggage, and the occasional valet parking. It’s not busy tonight so some of them sit down in the lounge enjoying a coffee. Seeing the door thrown open violently and the madman appear is the last thing they expect. “Press fourteen! Press fourteen!” the man screams as he dashes towards the elevator. The man is wearing a full face helmet and carries what seems to be a parachute. Too shocked to do anything, the lobby personnel asks: “Did you just jump off a building?” Just before the elevator doors slide shut, the man confirmes: “Yeah, and don’t worry; I’m a guest here.”
Breathing heavily, you understand that going to the fourteenth floor is no longer an option. You just told them you’d go there. Randomly, you pick seventeen and consider your options. Your own room is on fourteen and staying in the hallway is too dangerous. There is only one other room you have access to.Your company reserved an extra room on the seventh floor, meant to be used for after hours lounging. You know it contains a fridge with beer and you hope that your colleagues are already in their own rooms, sleeping. Coming out of the elevator, you make your way to the stairwell and run down ten floors towards room 704.
You put the key into the reader and open the door. You walk in and you hear the familiar sound of a gramophone needle screeching over a vinyl record. Two seconds ago, at least twenty people were talking loudly, playing poker, watching television, drinking beer. Now, everybody in the room is completely silent and staring at the door. No wait, at you. Apparently, not everybody had gone to bed yet.
The first words uttered from a stammering co-worker: “Are you being chased?” You have now taken off your helmet and the look on your face explains the story better than any words can. “Yeah, sort of,” you shrug as you throw down your gear and make your way towards the fridge. As you crack open a beer, questions start pouring in. You try to answer, but all you can think of is your friend who, by now, must be hand-cuffed and legs spread over the hood of his truck, getting patted down by a police officer.
Minutes later, somebody knocks on the door. Your heart skips several beats as you push your gear out of sight and hide around the corner. A colleague opens up and hears a man ask a question. Recognizing your friend’s voice, you turn around the corner. You’re impressed by your co-worker who is trying to protect you by saying: “Who’s asking?” You tell him it’s okay, looking at your friend with a puzzled look.
“…The cops pulled over besides me laughing hysterically. They must have seen the entire thing judging from the look on their faces. They never even got out of the car. All they said over the speakers was: “Sir, you can’t have people ride on the flatbed of your truck. That’s illegal in this city!” and then they drove off…”
You can’t believe it. You raise your arms into the air feeling the weight fall of your shoulders. You scream of joy and you hug your friend to celebrate the great ending of another adventure. Suddenly you notice another awkward silence. You turn around and for the second time you stare into twenty astounded faces. Realizing you owe them an explanation, you walk over to the fridge to grab another beer for your friend. You sit down and talk.
Fast forward six days. The rest of the plan worked out perfectly. You traveled to Xanadu to do a flipmode squash and obtained the seven Q’s bongo. This got you the letter A, completing the word. Four nights in an unknown city, three different objects, two letters and one amazing story.
You find yourself in an office. You have the weekly meeting with your boss and discuss the recent business trip. It’s been a great trip that was succesful for the entire team. Superlatives fling back and forth and yet you notice a certain unease. “Well,” you hear him say: “there is one thing I need to discuss.”
“…we think that your base jumps are very cool, and we urge you to keep doing what you love. However, we do ask you to please leave your parachute at home during business trips. It is a liability the company cannot afford. That said…
…that night you came running into the hotel room was unbelieveable! I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it before…”
You walk back to your desk. You sit down and notice the picture attached to your monitor. It’s a picture of yourself, just as you’re about to leap off a bridge.
And then you smile…
8 Comments Add a Comment
|Amazing story dude !!|
|Awesome story! I got pumped just reading it!|
|yes!!!!! that is an awesome story...fair play.....|
|God this sounds like my kinda fun..... what a blast!!! Great story|
|I forgot where I was for 20 minutes. You're one cool guy.|
That's one of the most riveting pieces of writing I've ever read.
|awesome man, now I'm not gonna be able to sleep|
|fantastic! i loved reading this! thank you|
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