Sunday, June 19, 2011

Bounce Point

Keith's curiosity got the better of him.

Normally he would never ask a stranger their business. It was a good rule. In the city there were too many weirdies and oddballs, that asking such an innocent question as; “What are you doing?” could land you in a heaping pile of crazy.

But he had been watching the man in the middle of the little park field for about a half hour and he seemed completely normal, except for the fact that he kept testing spots on the grassy ground with his feet; stomping down a normal looking patch of grass, sometimes doing a little two-footed hop on the spot, and then looking up into the sky.

It seemed to be random, but the man, wearing a clean-cut set of khaki shorts and a polo shirt, was so methodical about it, it seemed he may be conducting an experiment.

So, despite himself, Kieth got up from his bench where he had been reading his book and slowly, apprehensively, made his way to the open area of grass where the stranger continued to stomp, hop, and look up.

When he got a few meters away, he stood with his arms folded across his chest and ventured his inquiry.

“So,” he started shyly, “uh, what are you doing there?” He cleared his throat nervously.

Without looking up from his routine, the man stated in a perfectly normal tone, “I'm testing the ground for a bounce point.”

Kieth nodded as if he understood.

“Oh yeah.” he said in agreement, and then with less certainty he added, “Bounce point for what?”

Hopping on a new spot the stranger replied, “For a leap point.”

“I see.” Kieth said, even though he did not.

Then the man hopped to another spot and bounce a little higher than he should have for such a little hop. About a half a meter off the ground.

“Ah, ha!” the stranger said with the delight of discovery as he immediately tested the pot he had just bounced on.

Kieth watched on with interest.

“Did you find one?” he asked, genuinely wanting to know.

“Yup.” the man answered simply. And then looked from the spot on the ground to the clear, blue sky above and then over to the trees that lined the field.

“Okay, let's see if this works.” he said to himself as he strode in big, meter-length strides away from the spot to the trees, counting as he went.

Kieth watched with a perplexed look on his face and counted along in his head; twenty paces.

The man then turned back to face him and the spot. He waved his hand for Kieth to move back.

“Could you step back a few paces, please?” he asked politely and Kieth hopped out of the way, going back almost to his bench, then stopped to stand and watch for what this strange man was going to do next.

Back at the trees, the man took a few deep breathes which he blew out with force while shaking out his arms and hands to loosen them up.

And then began to run full tilt towards the spot on the grass he had bounced from.

Keith's eyes widen as the man sped towards the spot. At around seventeen paces he leapt up like a long jumper and stretched out with his legs to land, full force on his bounce point.

He landed dead on and bounced, rocketing into the air.

Kieth's mouth dropped open as his eyes shot up to watch as the man climbed higher and higher upward until he was no more than a dot against the blue, cloudless sky.

When he could no longer make out where the man had gone, Kieth looked around to see if anyone else had seen what he had just witnessed, but there was only him in the park at the moment.

He put his hand on his hip and scratched his head with the other.

After debating it, he walked over to the bit of ground the man had launched from and padded it with his foot.

It seemed just as solid as the ground around it. Nothing special at all.

He looked around again to see it anyone was around; a couple holding hands walked along the path through the park and he smiled at them as they passed him and continued on through.

Once they had gone he took a deep breath and did a hop onto the 'bounce point'.

As he hit, the ground gave way into a sink hole and he landed off balance, rolling his bad right ankle.

Limping home on his swollen ankle, book in hand, he decided it was still good practice to never ask strangers their business.

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