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Gryf and Jimmy Go Roofjumping




I spot Jimmy coming around the corner and touch two fingers to my hat by way of greeting. “Hey,” said Jimmy. “You know what I’d like to do someday?”

From experience, I know that “someday” will probably be next weekend – as long as we haven’t gotten something even stupider to do by then. But for us, stupidity isn’t really an issue. Our criteria for a good activity: It’s got to involve at least one headlong sprint, ten-foot jump, or shinny up a tree, wall, or stone giraffe neck. (I should tell you about that one sometime. It didn’t turn out too well. It was all Jimmy’s idea, of course.) We’re pretty flexible about what exactly needs to be sprinted across, jumped from, or climbed.

And it needs to be fun. Fun is a big problem for people like us, since we only actually have two friends each – each other, and maybe Tag, but she pisses me off. I think Jimmy’s secretly in love with her.

So. Anyway. I roll my eyes and say, “Okay, Jimmy, what would you like to do someday?”

“I wanna go roofjumping.”

Roofjumping? Roofjumping?! Now, I wish I could say that Jimmy’s never done anything as strange as this, but Tag is the liar – not me. (The giraffe neck comes to mind.)

“You want some puffy white pants and a monkey with that, Aladdin?”

Jimmy pauses. “It’s Mister Aladdin to you, buster. You be Abu. But we ain’t going to India, my friend. We are going to punt across on our very own Citizen's Bank.”

Now see, I said stupidity wasn’t an issue, but in Jimmy’s case I sometimes have to adjust the rules. “Dude, you can’t walk on the roof of a bank, smart one, someone’s going to assume we’re robbing the stupid thing and one of us will end up shot!”

“Well … the library? Can we use the library?”

“No, we robbed that last week. There’s no point to doing it again.”

Eventually we decide town hall. “But you can’t steal anything from Town Hall. All they have is stacks and stacks of musty old paper.”

We look at each other guiltily. “I didn’t think arson! You thought arson!” “No, I was the one who said no arson in the first place, we can’t go around burning things, why’d you think that?” “No, I wasn't, I’m a good person!” “Well – I didn’t think it –” Obviously, both of us thought of fire. But we’re not criminals (mostly). Arson is the first thing on our very short list of stupid things to do.

“Well anyway – okay – we can’t rob the place and we’re sure as hell not going to burn it down, so what’s the point?”

Inspiration strikes. “I want a gumball.”

“A gumball? A gumball?!”

“Yeah, you know, there’s that spirally thing on the third floor, with the globe at the top with all the little colored round yummy things in it, so let’s go get one.”

“Gryf, you don’t jump across a few fucking roofs for a gumball!”

“You don’t rob the library, either, but we did.”

“And got five bucks each!”

“Hey, I wasn’t the one who masterminded that particular plan.”

“Point taken, comrade.”

Eventually we decide to go to Town Hall on Saturday afternoon. Yes, to get a gumball. (I love saying that word. Don’t you love saying that word? That’s why I type it so much.)

Saturday …

“Dude … comrade … how exactly are we going to get on the roof?”

“Um. Climb?”

So we walk around the building a couple times, but there aren’t any handy little ladders leaned up against the side.

Jimmy looks up and down the stretch we’ve stopped at. “Okay, now what?”

I consider. “Well, if you boost me – like this –” I say, pantomiming, “and I sortof grab onto that frame – like this –”

“Then you fall, like this, and we both end up in a sprawling heap.”

“There are worse things to end up in.”

“A garbage compacter.”

“A great honking pile of donkey shit.”

“A McDonalds fry kitchen.”

“Ooh, that’s got to stink.”

“I’ll give you a boost. Try not to break my fingers, Gryf, pretty please?”

“Will do, comrade,” I say, and through amazing gymnastic feats manage to sling myself from his hands up to the frame, above it, and onto a convenient ledge. Jimmy watches what I’ve done and imitates me, using my foot as a rope.

“Sure you can handle this, Gryf-dude?”

“Gryf-dude? Gryf-dude?! Of course I can handle it, Jimmy-dude, I’m a swimmer!”

“Heh – ‘Pothead takes on Town Hall brickwork with style; Swimmer falls on ass.’”

I grin and clamber up to another ledge. From there it’s swing-and-grab to the roof.

“So, Jimmy, remind me … how is this roofjumping again?”

“Well, if you leap from here to that spruce, and then to the church over there, we’d be jumping. You go first. No – hold on – this is jumping!”

He takes a deep breath and jumps over the edge.

“Jimmy – fuck – Jimmy!”

Of course, he’s not dead. He’s hanging by his knees from a bar over the window, looking in with interest.

“Hey, nice view. Yey for file cabinets. I wonder if that babe’s going to notice me anytime soon?”

“Babe? What babe?” I swing down to join him. Why not?

“Ooh, she’s hot.” I say. “Nice taste.” She looks to be maybe fifty.

“Hey – hey lady!” Jimmy shouts. “– hey, why are you ignoring me? I’m sorry! I didn’t mean it! I still love you, baby!”

“Jimmy, she can’t hear you. And she doesn’t know who the hell you are.”

“Oh. Well –” he raps at the glass. The lady turns around, startled, and Jimmy gives her a huge, leering wink.

I almost fall, I’m laughing so hard – it’s just absurd; I’m hanging on the window of the Town Hall, still recovering from the terror of Jimmy’s diving jump off a roof, and then I get to see this lady get the most exicitement she's had all year from two random heads looking in at her office.

“Oh, my!” she says then, and rushes out of the cubicle. Time to leave, comrade, signals Jimmy, but I shake my head.

“I want my gumball.”

Jimmy raises an eyebrow, but the fact is, the blood is rushing to our heads and there’s really no way down besides the window. We flip ourselves right side up and strain at it from above. We’ve almost got it – then it’s open – and Jimmy catapults himself in. I follow (a bit more clumsily) and have myself almost in –

“ Shit! Fuck, ow, Jimmy, help me get this flipping window back up! Ouch.

(That’s the part where I sprained my fingers. Painful, eh?)

So anyway I’m hopping around, window’s back up, but my hand feels like fire and I still want that gumball. “C’mon … ouch … let’s go.”

So we sprint down the hall to the gumball machine. That’s when I realize …

“Gryf … do you have a quarter?”

“No.”

“You still want that gumball?”

“Hey, comrade, you know you’re kidding. Just pick the stupid lock, for chrissake.”

So he pulls out his entire array of impressive, official-looking, totally unnecessary lockpicking equipment. Why can’t he just use a paperclip? He’s just as good with one.

At the other end of the hall, I see Jimmy's deisngated "babe" talking furiously into a cell phone. “Officer, this is Town Hall … yes … two young hooligans are …”

“Hurry up,” I hiss. But he’s got it already. I’m tempted to grab handfuls of the shiny little orbs, but I take only two – one for me, one for him.

We salute the officeworker, whoever she is. Jimmy’s voice drips with sorrow as he calls, “Goodbye, my love!”

At the top of the banister, we share a wicked grin. Jimmy leaps onto it like it’s a surfboard, loses his balance, and ends up sliding down on his butt. Me, I’m smart enough to do that in the first place – less bruises tomorrow. We’re out the door before the babe knows what we’ve done.

We take a roundabout way to Ashley’s and sit chewing our prize, watching to see if the cops actually show.

They do, eventually, but they shouldn’t care enough to fingerprint the stuff. We’re not on file anyway. Watching the car pull away, we share a laugh.

“Damn, we’re good.”




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