In time I recovered, and gave up all notions of flying like Superman

Junior’s Dead!

By —— Bio and Archives--March 1, 2019

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For some kids, surviving until adulthood is nothing short of a miracle. When I was ten years old, my yearning to fly like Superman almost nipped me in the bud.

At that age, I idolized comic book characters — Batman, Robin, Spider Man, Plastic Man, and Wonder Woman, but my number-one hero was Superman. I marveled at his strength, his X-ray vision, and the way women fell all over him. But his flying skills fascinated me most.

Often I daydreamed … what must it be like to zoom through the air at supersonic speeds, to alight wherever I wanted? I had to find out. With a child’s fearless, innocent faith, I decided to parachute off a barn on my father’s Mississippi Delta farm, and for a brief few moments, experience the exhilaration of breaking earth’s surly bonds.


To make the parachute, I stole one of Mama’s bed sheets, tied four equal lengths of rope to its corners, and fastened the ropes’ other ends to my blue jeans’ belt loops. From the barn’s top, I planned to fling myself outward, throw out the sheet, and float gently to terra firma.

With the parachute under one arm, I climbed a ladder on the barn’s backside and scooted along the apex toward the front, where the roof projected outward and supported the hoist used to move hay from the loft.

After checking my knots once more, I prepared to jump. Looking down from my lofty perch, I saw a diminutive form waving his arms and gaping up at me in absolute horror. It was my boyhood best friend and mentor Jaybird.

“Lord have mercy,” the old black man screamed, his face ashen and eyes bulging. “Boy, you come down from there right this minute! Don’t you dare jump!”

“But Jaybird, can’t you see that I’m wearing a parachute? Wait right there — I’ll float down to you.” With that, I hurled myself into space.

Three ropes deployed, but the fourth tangled, causing my accelerating descent to deviate from vertical into a swooping spiral. For a few fleeting seconds, I glimpsed a blur of white sheet, blue sky, and the barn’s front wall.

Then, with a sickening thud, I smacked into the barn, ricocheted off, and plummeted straight down. Just before impact, Mama’s sheet snagged a set of deer antlers nailed over the barn’s front door, slowing me slightly before ripping loose and fluttering down to cover my crumpled, unconscious body.

When I came to at the hospital, a ring of frowning adults, including the doctor, nurses, Mama, my father, and Jaybird, were staring down at me. Every square inch of my body was bruised, abraded, bandaged or splinted, and the slightest moves evoked agonizing groans.

In time I recovered, and gave up all notions of flying like Superman, but my poor mama was never the same. For years afterward, she shuddered at the memory of that fateful day when Jaybird stormed on the porch, pointed toward the barn and shouted those terrifying words: “Junior’s dead!”


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Jimmy Reed -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Jimmy Reed is an Oxford, Mississippi resident, Ole Miss alumnus, Army veteran (Vietnam Era), former Mississippi Delta cotton farmer and ginner, author, and retired college teacher. His short story anthology, Boss, Jaybird And Me, is available at Squarebooks.com (telephone: 662-236-2262). His latest collection of faith-based short stories, entitled One Hundred By Five Hundred, is also available at Square Books (telephone: 662-236-2262) and at amazon.com. To receive Reed’s free weekly newsletter, send an email address to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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