3 – Jeff
There was something about being on a thin piece of engineered concrete and steel that separated him from a four hundred foot plunge to an icy, rocky death below that made Jeff’s balls try to crawl up into his asshole. He wasn’t really afraid of heights, but for some reason, the first thing he thought of every single morning and every single evening as he crossed the canyon on the Borah Bridge, was that this time would be the time when the middle of the bridge would crumble and fall away seconds before he drove through the area it was supposed to be.
One of the reasons he loved his BMW so much was how it dampened road noise and vibration. The instant his tires left the blacktop and started across the bridge, the pitch and vibration changed. In his old rickety Toyota that he’d driven until two years ago, the shift made his fear even more pronounced. When he had gone shopping for a car, the first brand new car he would own, he made himself test drive it either across the Borah Bridge, or the Perrine Bridge that connected Twin Falls with the north side of the canyon and I-84, seven miles to the west. The BMW’s low noise and vibration, coupled with the killer stereo, had sealed the deal for him.
Cruising along the quarter-mile bridge with Zepplin cranked on the radio to drown out his fears, he saw someone near the halfway point. Crazy bastard was his first thought. Driving across the bridge was bad enough, but to stand in the middle of it with nothing except a guardrail holding him back from a vomit-inducing height was pure madness. As his car quickly approached the figure, high beams cutting through the blackness, he watched in fascinated, unbelieving horror as the body went over the side of the guardrail.
It took at least three seconds for his brain to register what he’d just witnessed. It took another three seconds for the anti-lock brakes to bring his European sports sedan to a complete stop. He almost threw open the door and made a run for the middle, but some rational part of his mind commanded him to drive the last hundred feet to the pull-out on the other side so no one would come flying through and not see his car in time to avoid crashing into it. The body going over the side fought with the sudden vision of another car careening into his, smashing through the concrete and metal railings, and plunging both cars into the abyss.
This immediately led his imagination to his paranoid scenario of the bridge collapsing, with him trapped in the middle on foot. A dark part of his brain lamented that at least in the scenario where he fell to the bottom trapped in his car, he would be able to listen to Robert and Jimmy until he was squashed like a bug from the impact on the rocks below.
By the time Jeff had driven the car off the road and into the pull-out, he was frantic with fear and dread. He nearly decapitated himself trying to get out of the sedan, forgetting to unlatch the seat belt first. On the third push of the release button, it popped free and he was instantly running toward the middle of the bridge. His $74,000 car sat idling, high beams still glaring at the rock wall in front of it, door open for anyone to hop in and drive off.
As he neared the spot where he thought the person had gone over the guardrail, he began shouting as loud as he could. It didn’t register that if someone went over the side, they’d have hit the bottom before he had even pulled off the road. In the event of some crazy miracle that whoever had made the plunge actually lived after hitting the bottom, there was no way possible that they would hear him yelling from four hundred feet up. The distance was too great, as was the wind that howled under the girders below the roadway.
Jeff felt the wind begin to tug at him as he stopped at the midpoint of the bridge. He had bailed from the car too quickly to grab his good flashlight from the safety kit in the trunk. Not that it would do any good to see anything going on at the bottom. What the hell am I thinking? Whoever that was is dead, and I don’t even have my phone to call the police. He shouted one last time into the night before turning to head back to his car to grab his phone. A car began crossing the bridge, headlights briefly lighting up the area around Jeff enough to see someone clinging to the lower railing. Jeff’s heart leapt into his throat at the sight. There was nothing under the person’s feet except a few inches of steel, and only one vertical pole to hang on to.
“Hey! Hey you! What the hell are you doing?” he shouted over the side. The car didn’t even touch the brakes as it cruised by his wide open, idling BMW. It was probably a local, and he knew as a local himself that tourists and high schoolers from around the area would visit the bridge at all hours of the day and night. He would sometimes laugh when he’d drive over the bridge and see a car in the same situation as his. Dumbass tourists was usually the first thing that came to his mind.
“Leave me alone!” a girl’s voice shouted at him over the wind spiraling under the bridge.
Another car, this time coming from the south side toward him, lit the bridge up once again as it passed. He caught the sight of bright red hair and dark skin.