American Lenny

By Frank Byrns

"If it ainít one goddamn thing, itís another!!"


"Look, you asshole Ė if I miss this meeting because of you Ė Iíll throw you off this damn bridge myself!!!"

"Jesus Christ, just go ahead and do it!!"

Lenny surveyed the scene below carefully. This one Ė this one was gonna get real ugly real quick. Not exactly what he was trained to do, but he could handle it. He ran the situation through his mind again as he approached, barely able to think beneath all the car horns blaring and screaming motorists in his mind and on the bridge below.

What an asshole, he thought. Picking five oíclock traffic to climb over the edge of the Edmond Penn Bridge? For somebody screaming that there was nothing to live for any more, he sure wanted to go out with a bang.

He glanced to the west, where the Jefferson Falls PD was stuck in the same traffic mess this asshole was causing. They werenít gonna get here any time soon. And from the look on the assholeís face, he wasnít jumping any time soon, either. He checked the time again. 4:51. Things were only going to get worse from here.

"A-Central, Iím going in," he signaled.

"Copy that, A-2."

Lenny broke out of the lazy orbit he had been doing, high above the bridge, divebombing towards the asshole.

"Look! Up in the sky!"

"Itís The American!"

Lenny loved that shit. It was the best part of the job, as far as he was concerned. Made him feel like a rock star, or the center fielder for the Yankees, the Dallas Cowboy quarterback. Here I come to save the day, he sang softly to himself as he descended.

Lenny landed softly on the bridge, on the other side of the steel guide wires from the jumper asshole. He was pleased with himself; the flying had been easy, from the get-go almost, but he had had trouble with the landing. Itíd been almost three full years now, and he was just now starting to get the hang of it.

He thought the cape had something to do with it. It was a little heavy, he thought, and somehow threw him off balance when he landed. He had tried to get rid of it, but the PR assholes made that a no-go, and it was right back on the next day. Some bullshit about Q ratings, and Gallup polls, and whatever. . .

Lenny adjusted his mask, gave a little wave to the cheering commuters who had now climbed out of their cars for a better look, thankfully laying off the horns to let him work.

"Donít come any closer! Iím gonna jump!"

Here we go, Lenny thought. Letís hear all about it.

"Sir," he said loudly, just in case there were any media present, just like heíd been trained to do. "Sir. You donít want to do that, sir. Why would you do that?"

Lenny took a careful step towards the man, who flinched, but was otherwise still. "She canít Ė She canít do this to me! Her and her lawyers! Theyíre my kids, too, dammit!!"

Fuck, Lenny said. At least now Iíve got an angle to play. "Sir," he said, taking a step over the guide wire, not worried about anything, the guy, now that he was close enough to actually read him, obviously too much of a chickenshit to actually do it. "If you do this, your kids. . .youíll never see them grow old. Never see them graduate from law school Ė "

Fuck! Shoulda said medical school! The guy said he hated lawyers! "Never see them get married." Softly, now, right beside the man. "Never see your grandkids."

The guyís eyes were still wild, but Lenny knew he had the situation under control. He spoke very softly now, the media too far away to hear anything now. "Listen to me, asshole," he said. "You got a shit deal in life? Fuck you. These people here on this bridge Ė theyíre trying to get home, take care of their own shit deals. And youíre messing all that up."

Lenny was rolling now, getting through. "I donít give two shits one way or the other Ė Jump or donít. I. Donít. Care. Just get the fuck off this bridge, so we can get on with our lives."

The guy didnít move, didnít speak, stunned by Lennyís spiel. Lenny reached out a hand to the man, and in a moment that would replayed on every front page and every six oíclock broadcast in America, the man took it.

And then the man jumped.

You fucker, Lenny thought, his genetically altered body easily supporting the weight of his body and the shock of his fall.

I canít believe this. The man flailed, wiggling, trying to get free, Lenny making no effort to pull him back up. As far back as the media was, it probably looked to the world like he was doing everything he could to hold on.

And then Lenny let go.

The man plummeted, and Lenny made a good show of reaching for him, throwing himself onto the deck of the bridge in effort. He flew after him just a hair too late, and followed him down just a hair too slow, and was just a hairís width away from grabbing the man before he splattered into a wet mess on the concrete and steel base of the bridgeís support pillar, and bounced off, down into the river below.

Lenny turned around and headed back for the bridge. He landed softly Ė another nice one, he thought Ė and made another good show, this time staring longingly towards the water, head bowed in apparent disbelief, thanking God he had the mask today, to cover up the big grin on his face.

Fuck it, he said. Traffic problem solved.

The End

Copyright © 2004 by Frank Byrns

Bio: "Previously, I have published Sunvolt at, and my story Ridealong will be included in the upcoming issue of Unwarranted Confessions. During the day, I am a mild-mannered retail manager. But by night. . ."


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