A Trip to The Top of the Parachute Jump

Parachute Jump
The following is a very old outtake (2002) from my Coney Island novel

(title still under wraps.) And so is the painting.



ON THE GROUND where once flowed the Canarsie Indians’ Sacred Spring there arose a gigantic tower, a parachute ride of dark-red latticed steel. From the ride’s summit silky-white parachutes float to earth in a randomly falling ballet, while pairs of riders ascend to heaven through the cotton candy clouds, terrified, thrilled, as each parachute is hoisted up, hovers in the sky, plunges, then bursts open.

 

Dad puts his arm around the back of the seat. I direct my gaze up at the circular web of steel in the sky and am filled with a deep sense of longing. It’s an island of pure, blue coolness high above the feverish crowds. Suddenly the cables tighten. My pulse starts hopping, skipping, jumping for joy, as up we go. Roaring crowds, carnival barkers, hurdy-gurdy music, and thundering surf fuse into a vibrating chant, the hum of humanity resonating in my ten year old body. As we rise through the air, the noise of the world fades, until there is nothing but wind whistling through the cables. We hit the mooring with a jolt. With a final lurch the great gears lock the seat at the top, then all, save the sea breeze, is still. The vast Atlantic Ocean is flowing towards us over the horizon, rolling in on the waves, crashing to shore, its depths a dark mystery, its surface reflecting back the blue of the pure blue sky. All is blueness: blue clouds, blue sea, blue moon etched lightly in the azure heavens. Even the fresh salt breeze is blue, the blueness of vast open space, of coolness, of freedom.

 

Then the mooring lets loose, and we’re plummeting, falling from the sky like Icarus. There’s an explosive WOOUPH, then the parachute is billowing above us like a great white morning glory that floats us gently back to a world we left long ago.

 

When I first started writing this novel twenty years ago this was the first scene. Later it became the last scene. And still later, as the plot changed, my style got more terse, and subplots were laid to rest, I deleted it. The scene was drawn from a vivid childhood memory, an epiphany almost, but that’s the way of fiction, you have to, as they say, kill your darlings.

Posted in: Blog & Stories

12 comments

  1. Jim says:

    Here is a picture of the Parachute Jump I took a few years ago.

    • Chuck Schorr says:

      Sheila I was also about 10 when I first rode the parachute jump. I still remember the rush I had then AND I also think about the narrow lap strap we had. No Way OSHA would allow that now. Love Chuck

    • Sheila says:

      Thanks Jim. Beautiful picture.

  2. John Sosh says:

    Cool. Looking forward to Thur.

    • Sheila says:

      So glad you’ll be tuning in. If you have any appropriate art for that week’s post, I’d love for you to post it.

  3. marilyn says:

    Very nice…love the painting. The did look like morning glories. I was too chicken to go on the ride.

  4. Sally says:

    Playland in Rye had a parachute ride. My mom’s on-the-ground terrified and crazed reaction to our ascent and descent was much scarier than the ride. Campanulas remind me of the parachutes.

  5. Phyllis says:

    cant wait to read more. So what’s taking you so long. Uncover more.

    • Sheila says:

      You’ll have to wait for my weekly blog! I plan to blog every Wed. so tune it on Thur.

      • jeannie Stonebrook says:

        Really like seeing Coney Island through your 10 yr old eyes. I taught school at Lafayette for a year and passed Coney Island every weekday on the train. Also went swimming there a couple times and ate knishes at Nathans. All this 1970-71.

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