Wednesday, August 24, 2011

THE INCHWORM by Robert E. Petras

The few who knew him called him the Inchworm for his passion to go as near as possible to the fulcrum balancing creation and destruction.

He first neared perfection on a Saturday afternoon at a small airport during a stunt plane performance.  While Cessna planes moaned overhead, wheeling spirals and figure eights, he elbowed his friend Mackey, then pointed to a young woman standing within a packed crowed of spectators.  “See that girl in the purple sweater with the big boobs. I bet I can place both my hands on those babies without her or anyone else knowing it.”

“You’re on for fifty bucks,” Mackey replied.

eHHHHe watched the Inchworm wedge through the crowd, all heads tilted to the bright blue sky, riveted to the airplanes as the Inchworm positioned himself behind the woman, wrapped his arms around her and ever so slowly drew his splayed hands upon her breasts, exerting no more tactile force than a shadow.

The nearness of perfection intoxicated the Inchworm—attainment of the mastery of going ever so close.  But he was so cool.  He learned how breathing deeply and slowly could calm the nerves, giving him the steadiness of a surgeon, no an artist—an artist in the midst of creation.  The Inchworm also learned how this controlled breathing calmed his entire being, even his soul, by lowering his heart rate below 30 beats a minute. 

Achieving this rate while performing his art, time became still, sound the hollow ringing of a seashell, like riding his Suzuki near the edge of a cliff, inching closer and closer and closer until finally the wheels teetered along the edge, teasing gravity, time an eternity between two heartbeats.

He inched toward the limits of his subconscious while skydiving, bungee jumping and white water rafting, always shadow-caressing that final inch.

Only remaining now was the egoless I, the taste of cold steel from a .38 revolver inside the mouth, trigger cocked, squeezing as gently as an infant, a little more, a little more, a little…

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