There Is No I In Challenge

Submitted into Contest #94 in response to: Start your story with someone accepting a dare.... view prompt



  There’s No I In Challenge—George Davis

  Hamilton Joseph Feeney has always been a cautious person. Not one to perform any act outside of decency, and dignity. Today, however, Hamilton has accepted a severe challenge. If he finishes the task set before him by his looney neighbor, Oscar Means. Oscar challenged Hamilton to a dare. Hamilton is to jump from a three-story building into a small plastic swimming pool. If he does this stunt, his prize will be two-fold. One, he will be a hundred dollars richer. Two, he will win the hand of Michelle Knickerson, the most admired girl in all of Bickford High.

  “Come on, Hammy. Just think, my dad will give me the hundred dollars, and I will, with some reluctance, give up my girl, Michelle.”

  Hamilton has admired Michelle since first grade. He often dreamed of the two of them going to Ray’s Malt Shop after school and enjoying a Coke together. He is too shy to ask her for a date. Too shy to venture out into uncharted waters, so to speak.

  “I don’t know, Oscar. I certainly could use the money, and I’d love to have a chance to date Michelle Knickerson. However, jumping into a five-foot-wide plastic swimming pool from your third-floor porch is a little too risky.”

  “Ah, come on, chicken. There’s nothing to be afraid of. My brother and I have jumped off that porch a thousand times. It’s a piece of cake, Hammy.”

  On the other hand, I could drown in the water. 

  “Okay, Oscar. I accept your challenge. When do you want me to do this thing?” 

  “How about Saturday morning. Say, around ten? My folks will be grocery shopping, and there’ll be no problems.” 

 “Okay, this Saturday at ten. I’ll be there, Oscar,” I said. Hamilton spent the rest of the day, and into the night thinking about what he got himself into today. Hamilton thought I would have to be a suicidal maniac to take such a challenge. However, to keep face. I accepted. My end is in sight, but I’d rather risk everything than go out of this world as a coward. 

  Thursday morning finds our daredevil over at the Wayfarer Diner on Main Street in Bickford, Maine across the Sagamore River bridge in his hometown of Cumberland Falls. 

  “Good morning, Hammy,” Winnie the waitress greeted her customer. 

  “Good morning, Winnie. I’ll have my usual.” Hamilton’s usual was two over medium, home fries, crisp bacon, and one slice of wheat toast with peanut butter. 

  “Coming right up,” Winnie said. 

Finishing his breakfast and leaving Winnie a good tip, he left the diner. 

  Thursday night and Hamilton sat thinking. It is too late to back out now. Why did I ever make such a foolish mistake? I will surely die. There is no way I can survive that leap from the third floor into that small swimming pool. 

  Friday, the day before the hair-raising fete, or more likely, defeat, Hamilton thought. I must be a fool. But, then it is to win the hand of a dream date, Michelle by name. Hamilton has adored Michelle from afar since sixth grade. Oh, what one does in the name of love. 

  Two a.m. Hamilton was still wide awake. He had been pondering his fate since nine o’clock. The more he ran the film through the theater of his mind, the more he became anxious. At ten o’clock, he had twelve more hours of life left. ‘Why don’t you look on the positive side?’ His conscience seemed to say. ‘Why not picture your life with Michelle Kickerson, instead of planning your funeral. Plan your life, and what it will be like with the girl of your dreams.’ 

  Seven o’clock, still wide awake, Hamilton got up, showered, no need to shave. The undertaker will take care of that. He was in no hurry to get dressed. He sat on the edge of his bed for, what seemed like two hours, but, in reality, only fifteen minutes. The ringing phone jolted him from his reverie. “Hello, Hammy. Just checking to see if you’re ready for today’s undertaking.” 

 It was, Oscar Means. “I don’t know about you, Hammy. But, I’m really psyched to watch you perform.” He laughed and hung up the phone without giving Hamilton a chance to speak. 

Hamilton drove over to Oscar’s home at nine-thirty. No sense in getting there too early. After all, it was his last day on earth, so why hurry it? 

  “Well if it isn’t Michael Phelps in the flesh,” Oscar said, in a mocking tone. 

  “Don’t get smart, Oscar. I promised to do this, and here I am.” 

   “Aren’t you a little nervous, Hammy? I mean, it isn’t every day you get to perform,” he sneered. “By the way, I’ve invited Michelle over to watch. Of course, she doesn’t know you are going to make your swan dive, Hammy. She thinks she’s gonna be here to watch my little nephew in his swimming pool. She loves children, you know; She wants a whole quiver full when she gets married.” 

  “You didn’t.” 

  “Oh, but I did, Hammy. I thought it might build you up a little.” 

  “That’s cruel. I wouldn’t do that to my worst enemy. You are a sadistic, maniacal monster, Oscar.” 

  “Thanks, that the best compliment I’ve received all year.” His fiendish laugh echoing, making Hamilton’s heartbeat even faster. 

  “What are you doing, Oscar?” Michelle asked. “What’s Hamilton doing up there on that porch?” 

  “Oh, I guess I forgot to tell you. Today, for your entertainment my friend, and yours, Hamilton Feeney is going to do his famous, or future famous dive into four inches of water.” 

  “He is not. Hamilton, come down here right now,” Michelle hollered. 

  “I can’t, Michelle. I agreed to do this.” 

  “What for? What’d he promise you?” 

  “A hundred dollars…and…?” 

  “And what, Hamilton. What else did he promise you?” 

  “Er…he said…a date with you was part of the deal.” 

  “You don’t need to do this to date me, Hammy. I will gladly go out on a date with you. And, drop this monkey like a hot potato.” She snarled at Oscar. 

  “No, Michelle. A wager is a wager. I must do this.” And with that, Hamilton stepped off the porch. He thought to himself. Now, I will never know the thrill of dating Michelle, never get a chance to propose to the one I would marry if I wasn’t going to die. 

  “Say good-bye to your friend, Michelle,” Oscar said as Hamilton’s body was plunging toward the plastic pool. 

  Hamilton didn’t make it to the pool. He got hung up in the first-floor canvas awning and rolled off onto the ground, unscathed. 

  “That’s not fair,” Oscar said. “I forgot about that awning. No hundred dollars for you, Hammy. You didn’t do what was agreed upon.” 

  “I don’t care about the money, Oscar, though I did end up in the pool, didn’t I?” He laughed. 

Hamilton and Michelle were married two years after Hamilton’s brave act. The two have three children, and Hamilton is president of Bickford Savings Bank, while his nemesis, Oscar Means is a janitor at that bank. 

  I hate to say it, but what you sow, you reap, or as the world would say, ‘what goes around, 

 comes around.’

May 20, 2021 13:36

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