Frank stood at the edge of the cliff. A thousand feet below lay a body. It was nothing more than a contorted dot. Frank stared downward for at least a minute to ensure the person at the bottom of the canyon was not moving. When Frank was satisfied, he looked up towards the sky, shook his fist towards the heavens and yelled, “Ha!”
A chipmunk moved tentatively out from a bush. Frank turned, and he and the chipmunk stared at each other. “Don’t worry little guy. I won’t hurt you. I guess I can’t say the same for Jerry.” A chuckle escaped Frank’s lips. The chipmunk grabbed a nearby nut and nibbled on it while he examined Frank.
“Oh, you want to know what just happened? Okay, I’ll tell you.” Frank turned towards the rodent slowly until he was facing the chipmunk and bushes, and his back was to the cliff. “You see, Jerry and I were best friends. In fact, you might even say we were brothers. We had been roommates back in college. Both of us were electrical engineers. We would schedule all of our classes together and study with each other. I guess it wasn’t very long before we started competing on our grades. Jerry always won those contest.”
Frank stopped his story to the chipmunk. He took a step back, leaned backward, and looked over his shoulder. Jerry’s body still lay lifeless.
“Where was I?”
The chipmunk just looked at Frank.
Frank smiled, ” Oh yes. My buddy down there, Jerry. Well, he seemed always to win. We both got hired by the same company, and Jerry became my boss. We both dated the same woman in the office, and Jerry married her. Well, he married her, but I got her.”
The chipmunk finished the nut and seemed to sit. Frank noticed an acorn near his foot and gave it a gentle kick towards the animal. The chipmunk took a quick step and began to feast.
“Anyway, Jerry’s life wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. You see, the higher you rise in the ranks, the longer the work hours. So, while I wallowed in middle management, Jerry was on his way to the executive suite. Unfortunately, that left Doris at home alone. Oh, sorry, Doris is his wife’s name. She’s a knockout platinum blond and has a body that won’t quit.”
The chipmunk cocked his head to the left.
“Yeah, you know what I’m talking about, don’t you little buddy. Well, I decided to visit Doris while Jerry was working late. It seemed the right thing to do. After all, I was dating her when Jerry first took her out, so we all know each other. Let me tell you, little buddy; she was one lonely woman. It seems Jerry was so obsessed with making the big leagues he forgot all about Doris sitting alone at home. You know the cruel irony in all of this? Doris didn’t even care about money. She just wanted a roof over her head and a man to keep her company. Old Jerry was tilting windmills, as they used to say.”
The chipmunk finished the nut and began to wave its tiny arms. Frank noticed another acorn and shoved it his way.
“Well, I guess you know what happened. Doris and I finally hooked up. In fact, she was going to tell him about us next week. Jerry really was an idiot. Do you what he did on his first weekend off in two months? He went hiking with me, here, today. How stupid can one man be? Is it any wonder Doris decided I was the better man. Well, we were walking along here when Jerry suddenly stops. I thought we were taking a water break. Oh, that reminds me.”
Frank stopped talking, pulled out his water bottle and took a long drink. He put the bottle back in his waistband and continued.
“As I was saying, I thought we were going to take a drink. The next thing I know Jerry’s yelling at me and accusing me of sleeping with Doris. Of course, I was, but I was still surprised by the ambush. The next thing I know he takes a swing at me. I ducked and shoved him, and he does a swan dive to the bottom. I guess I showed him who the real winner is. He took my grades, he took my positions at work, but he couldn’t take my woman.”
Frank let out a bitter laugh that began to grow. The laughter started to bounce off the canyon walls and seemed to fill the sky. He roared in triumph and let the sound fill the heavens. When he had no breath left, he stepped back and tried to regain his air. His left foot found the edge of the cliff and the loose gravel gave way. With his arms swinging forward Frank tried with all his might to remain on the precarious ledge he had placed himself.
The momentum from his arms began to work in his favor, and the trunk of his body started to lean forward, but his left foot hung out over space and began to surrender to gravity. Frank attempted to fall forward, but the momentum of his left leg carried his right leg over the edge. Frank’s belly hit the dusty floor, and he felt his body continue to slide over the granite-walled cliff. With his feet trying to find a foothold his hands managed to dig into the dirt until they discovered some small shallow roots to aid in their desperate bid for some friction. His falling stopped.
Frank took slow shallow breaths and tried to figure out how to climb his way back onto solid ground. The chipmunk stood there staring at Frank. Suddenly he darted towards him in tiny leaps and bounds. Frank wondered what his new friend would do to help. The chipmunk ran up, bit Frank on the nose and scurried off. Instinctively Frank grabbed his nose, and gravity pulled him over the cliff to his friend below. Frank’s screams echoed until his body reached the bottom and thudded next to Jerry.
The chipmunk chattered and danced in a circle before retreating to the safety of the bushes.