Flash Fiction 03: Tuffy The Tumbler


Tuffy was the star tumbler on our country high school gymnastics team. He also played eight-man football, and that's where he got his nickname. He was a squat lil' dude with muscles up to his forehead. Man, even his ears were crammed with sinew. But most of his popularity accrued from his outstanding gymnastic tumbling ability.

Well, school ended and he couldn't make a living wearing tights. No “wanted” signs for flipping around on a sheet of vinyl wrapped foam. So, he decided to work construction. There was a power plant being built outside outside of his town—only a few hours away, so he went ahead and applied for a job. Seems very few cowpokes wanted to work the high steel. Well, Tuffy also excelled on trampoline, so he wasn't afraid of heights or falling at all. He was hired on the spot. Bonus: It paid well for a hick in the sticks. Tuffy dug right in.

The building was enormous. It was a clear and crisp morning, and Tuffy was working near the top of the steel skeleton frame, and was swinging back and forth suspended by a rope thicker than his arms. Back and forth. Back and forth. “Now all he needed was a pair of tights,” he laughed to himself. What Tuffy didn't realize is that the Grim Reaper was right there hangin' on to that rope beside him. Hicks are none too bright when it comes to high steel construction. It's not a “normal” job in farm country. It seems that every time Tuffy swung this way and that, the rope was being cut by an I-beam above. A bizarre, inside-out pit-and-pendulum type a deal was goin' on. Of course, no hayseed iron worker was above watching out for Tuffy, so, eventually, he took the big dive. Witnesses said that he was tumbling around every which way at first, but he amazingly straightened himself out for the final fifty feet. He nailed the landing, feet first, of course, with phenomenal agility; it mattered not. Tuffy was now truly squat. His thighs were pokin' out of his shoulders. But, he was still alive and kicki…, well, talking!

They packed him in the back of a lil' ol' rusted-out Toyota pickup and raced him down the bumpy gravel roads. And he was still aware and talkin' a couple hours later as they pulled into the hospital parking lot. He fizzled-out completely before he was rolled into Emergency. The Reaper held up ten skeletal fingers—Tuffy's terminal tumbling routine was positively Olympian!

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