February 16, 2020

"Bottles & Stairs" - The Misadventures of Little Rudger

I remember the day that Bottles died.

Independence Day is a funny holiday. For one evening, once a year, this great country celebrates it's freedom by recreating the sights and sounds of the war fought to earn such freedom. Traumatizing animals and war veterans with PTSD alike. As an adult, it's a holiday one could probably do without. As a teenage boy, however, it's a great time to run wild in the streets on a skateboard.

Bottles' family wanted to attend a firework event at a local high school. So Bottles, Robot, and Little Rudger agreed to go, but only as long as they could bring their skateboards with them. They arrived at the event in the afternoon while the sun was still shining bright. Fireworks would not be displayed until after dark, so the three boys took off on their skateboards to find some curbs to slide around on, or some stairs to throw themselves down. Enter, the "ten-stair."

Skateboarders refer to a staircase by the amount of steps within the set of stairs. A beginning skateboarder would first learn how to go down a curb or single step without falling, then advance to a double-step or "two-stair." Then move on to attempting a "three-stair," a "four-stair," and so-on and so-forth as the skateboarder's skill progresses.

Skateboarders also commonly measure themselves against each other by the largest amount of steps one can throw themselves down, while being able to land safely on their board and ride away in one piece. It was common to hear skaters ask each-other "What's the biggest stair you can do?" Robot could do a five or six-stair, Little Rudger had done a four-stair, but Bottles was prepared to top them all by attempting a 10-stair. Impossible! The biggest stair Robot had ever done before was half the size.

Little Rudger wasn't one for taking big risks. His style of skateboarding was a mix of risk and caution. Little Rudger didn't mind attempting new tricks he had never done before, but he tried them within reason. If Little Rudger had landed a three-stair once or twice, he would attempt a four-stair. Robot, despite being the most talented skater of the trio, had a much more cautious approach. Robot wouldn't attempt a six-stair until he felt he had mastered a five-stair with multiple attempts. Bottles was the complete opposite of Robot. Bottles would try anything if he thought it would impress others.

Despite his two friends urging him otherwise, Bottles was determined to attempt the impossible ten-stair. He started off, as many skaters do, by launching himself down the stairs while intentionally kicking the skateboard away in mid-air and landing on the ground with his feet. He did this a few times to "feel out" the jump. Once he determined he could handle the jump, he stopped kicking the board away in mid-air and attempted to land on it. After a few attempts, it was clear that Bottles had a possibility of pulling the trick off. So he kept trying.

And then, it happened. Bottles died.

Bottles had thrown himself down the stairs once more. Robot and Little Rudger watched him sail through the air in perfect formation, board directly underneath, perfectly level... time froze. And then it all came crashing back to full speed, as Bottles' back foot was too far back on the tail of the board when he landed on the ground. The board shot out from underneath, and Bottles fell face first on the hard concrete with a loud "SMACK!"

"Oh man, Bottles died!" cried Robot. Little Rudger was in shock as he watched Bottles lie on the ground motionless. Just when one of the boys was about to run off to a payphone (cellphones didn't exist back then) to call an ambulance, a green fairy came down from the sky. She wiggled her butt over Bottles face, leaving gold flakes of pixie dust all over him. Bottles coughed.

"Oh shit, Bottles is alive!" said Robot. Yes, Bottles was alive, but not in very good shape. He was clearly in a lot of pain. After catching his breath, Bottles slowly got up to his feet and limped around like a dog who has seen his last day. Robot and Little Rudger watched their broken friend cautiously. They asked Bottles if he was ok, or wanted to go home. Bottles simply said "no" and then wandered around collecting his missing limbs and popping them back into place. Surely, this skate session was over. Bottles, however, wasn't done. As Little Rudger and Robot sat around chatting, Bottles was plotting his revenge on the ten-stair.

Revenge would be short and sweet, because moments later, Little Rudger and Robot perked their heads up when alerted by the sounds of skateboard wheels hitting the pavement. It was Bottles coming full speed on his skateboard back towards the ten stair. Again, he flew through the air in perfect formation, board directly underneath, perfectly level... time froze. And then time resumed when Bottles landed perfectly on the skateboard at the bottom of the stair case. "Woohoo!" exclaimed Robot and Little Rudger, as they both threw their own skateboards into the air in celebration of their friend's impossible feat.

Bottles raised both hands above his head and simply said...

"Now I feel no pain."


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