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The Skydiving Incident

Short story By: Donald Miller

A man is honest, at a price.

Submitted:Jun 19, 2012    Reads: 217    Comments: 8    Likes: 7   

I make it a point to never ever lie to my wife. I know that most marriages end in divorce, so I resolved right from the start that I wouldn't lie to her about anything. I want to know that if our marriage doesn't survive, it won't be because I lied to her about anything. I've been lying in bed beside her and wondering if that was such a good idea. There's a dead silence filling the room, like an unpleasant haunting ghost. Occasionally the silence is broken by one of my wife's gentle albeit brief bursts of weeping.

I decided I'd take my mind off of it by doing some reflecting and introspection. It's not unusual for significant events in a man's life to come to the surface in times like these. Probably the most significant event in my life was the skydiving incident. I love skydiving. There's a peace and serenity I feel during those brief moments that I feel at no other time.

It's a peace and serenity achieved despite the presence of the preacher, and not because of it. Have you ever been around someone who is a one trick pony? Actually the preacher had two tricks to annoy the daylights out of me. One was the nearly nonstop preaching, while the other one was his references to all things Fox News. I hate Rupert Murdock's outfit, and I said it to him as plainly as I could. I told him "I hate Rupert Murdock's outfit." That didn't prevent him from going on and on about it. Even the preacher's cowboy friend seemed annoyed. They were both conservatives and believers, but like nearly everyone else in the world the cowboy wanted to have a few minutes where he didn't talk shop. It was like there was never a break from preaching with the preacher. It was like water torture.

The preacher owned the plane. His son was an avid skydiver, also. But on this fateful day, he and the cowboy were off fishing. So there were four of us, and the preacher. I remember looking out the window at the scenery while the preacher blabbed away about Glenn Beck. I never could follow Becks reasoning around the block, not once. I'd never have watched the guy for more than two minutes, except that when the preacher came over, he and my wife watched the show. I knew the preacher on account of my wife, and I didn't want to have my skydiving privileges revoked, so I managed to sit there without blurting out, "Bullshit!" I squirmed a lot but I managed to not say anything.

After eight years of hearing about what a great guy George Bush was, and three years about how Obama is the embodiment of evil, I was at the end of my rope. The preacher's only reaction to Obama sending in the SEAL team to kill Osama bin Laden was, "Isn't it awful when friends turn on each other like that?"

The cowboy noticed I was beginning to turn purple, so he said, "Come on, Ned. Religion and politics can be bad for your health." Those were surely the truest words the preacher ever heard. Sadly, at least for him, they went unheeded.

When the incident occurred, I had a couple of things I wanted to point out to the preacher. But I only got as far as the first one. I told him, "Why keep badgering me? You know I like the president." His reply was the last thing either one of us ever said to each other, "Well, let me tell you about why you're wrong about that, too." He said that to his son often, and it always got my dander up. When the son owns the plane, there will be peace, harmony, and accord.

This day, the preacher was very excited because he had just bought himself a new video camera. He was eager to take footage of our jump. I imagine it was for some type of YouTube video he had planned about God and heaven. He had the notion that the video would draw attention for the church. He was right about that.

So earlier this evening over dinner my wife says, "I just don't see how the pilot or any of you four jumpers could help but notice he wasn't wearing a parachute."

Of course I didn't say anything. I did chock a bit on my broccoli, though. "Sweetheart, you always under-cook the broccoli." I know it isn't the nicest thing to do to knit pick a woman about her cooking, but I like being honest with her. Plus I don't like the idea of chocking to death on a too-raw broccoli clump. Life is short.

So dinner ended with my wife saying:

"You didn't notice that he wasn't wearing a parachute?"

"Did you?"

"Did you, dear?"


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