Tyler stood of the edge of the spillway and looked down. He was sure he would have the courage to jump, but now he had second thoughts.
"C'mon Boss, piss or get off the pot," one of the jumpers jeered.
Tyler took a deep breath and tried to remember why he was there; what he had to do. It all started when Mateo crashed yesterday.
Tyler and Hien sat at the base of the spillway, like they did every day after school, watching jumps. They critiqued and teased jumpers who used "training wheels" on their boards. The jumper before Mateo activated his stabilizer thrusters early and slowly floated down. He cruised over to the shore where the two boys sat.
"Weak!" Tyler and Hien laughed. The sound echoed off the rock canyon. The jumpers up on the edge of the spillway laughed as well.
"Dissed! Dude. That was a grandma jump." Hien was still laughing.
"I don't see you two up there. It's easy to heckle from the sidelines. You make a jump then we'll see how weak you are," said the jumper. He looked up to the spillway ledge and saw the others point and wave him off dismissively.
"Well, if I had a real board, I would jump, no problem," said Tyler.
"Bad jumpers blame their gear," the jumper said. He clicked out of his board and walked down the road back to the the neighborhood.
Tyler and Hien shrugged. They looked up to the ledge and waited for the next jump. They saw Mateo look over the edge.
"Hey, Mateo!" the boys called. Mateo waved, then disappeared.
"Here it comes!" Tyler said.
Mateo shot out over the lip of the spillway and sailed downward. He dropped in a perfect graceful balance, crouched on his board, ready to fire off his thrusters at the last possible moment. In an instant, he hit the water with a smack, his board creating a large splash. Everyone froze and trained their eyes on the point of impact.
"Oh no!" Tyler cried. He and Hien jumped into the water and swam to where Mateo fell. They found him under the water still clicked into his board. The boys struggled to get him to the surface. They used all their strength to get Mateo to the shore. He was not breathing.
"What do we do?" Hien was distraught.
"We have to do compressions!" said Tyler. The boys flipped Mateo over and unzipped the top of his suit. Tyler placed his interlocked hands on Mateo's sternum and began to press down.
"Come on man!" Tyler shouted
"Oh my God, dude, I don't know. Come on Mateo!" Hien wrang his hands. "Are you sure you know what you're doing?"
Mateo began to cough. He spit up spillway water and made heaving gasps for air. He blinked his eyes.
"Who there, take it easy man," Tyler patted him on the back. He looked at Hien. "Lifeguard training."
That was a close one.
Mateo sat in silence for a few minutes, then he spoke.
"Yeah, that was a pretty nasty fall," Hien said.
"What happened? Did your thrusters malfunction?" Tyler asked.
"No, I just fired off late. I pushed it too hard. That was way too close. I'm done." Mateo got up and clicked out of his board.
"Done done?" said Tyler.
"Yeah." Mateo left his board and his control rig on the shore and began to walk away.
"What about your stuff?" Tyler said.
"You can have it if you want. Just don't hurt yourself too bad," Mateo said, and walked away. Tyler and Hien looked at the gear. The board was a top notch Sato 55 and the rig was a Cypress system. The board was only moderately damaged.
"Hey, I can fix this." Tyler said.
"Go ahead man. I'm not gonna do any jumping with that board. The thing's bad luck. You saw what happened to Mateo."
"Come on, he said himself. He fired too late. He always pushed it further than anyone."
"He was also really good," said Hien. "You only have street drop experience. You've never done a proper jump."
"What, you think I can't?" Tyler said.
"I think you'll see when you get up to the ledge. There's a reason we're down here and not up there," said Hien.
"Screw that. I've always said I can do it. I'm gonna do it tomorrow."
"Here, check this." Tyler grabbed the board. He looked up to the spillway ledge and called out, "Tomorrow I'm jumping!"
"We'll believe it when we see it Tyler," the jumpers called.
"I swear it. I'm going. If I don't jump, I'm the biggest poser out here."
"You are the biggest poser out here!" the jumpers laughed.
Hien tried to stifle a laugh. Tyler shot him a furious stare.
"I'll see you tomorrow then," Tyler said. He walked back to his house and spent the night repairing his new board for his jump.
The biggest poser out here, Tyler thought. He stood on the edge and watched the water rush down the spillway.
"Okay, step back little man," a tough-looking jumper said. He walked over to Tyler and put his hand on his shoulder.
"Hey, back off!" Tyler shouted.
"Whoa! Temper. Look, we don't have all day. You're not going to jump, we can see that. So step back."
Tyler stepped back from the ledge. The jumpers began to laugh.
Biggest Poser he said to himself. He threw the board down and clicked his boots in. He hit the throttle and shot off the edge of the spillway. There was a brief sensation of weightlessness, then suddenly he plummeted toward the water. His finger shot to the panic button. He remembered the jumper from the day before. He remembered Hien laughing.
He held off as long as he could until fear overtook him. He pressed the button and the thrusters fired. He began to ease his descent, but the water kept coming at him.
"Shit!" Tyler screamed, and he plunged into the water.
He was still conscious and his suit kept him buoyant, but his board kept him from surfacing. He clicked out and the board sank. When he floated to the surface, he saw Hien staring at him.
"Dude! You're okay!" Hien embraced him. "You are so stupid!"
They swam to the shore. Tyler tried to stand, but his leg gave out.
"I think I sprained it," Tyler winced.
"Dropping in like that? Yeah, lucky you didn't snap it off. Your form sucks." Hien said.
"Still, I did it." Tyler smiled.
"True. True." said Hien.
He braced Tyler and helped him to his feet.
"You know, I think I know what I did wrong. Next time if I—"
Hien cut Tyler off. "Okay. How about we go home first?" They began to walk back home when a jumper from the spillway called down to them.
"Hey Tyler! You suck!"
"Kiss my ass!" Tyler shouted back.
"Whoooah!" the jumpers feigned, as if offended.
Tyler and Hien walked down the road together.
"Seriously though, I know what I did wrong." Tyler said. "I just need to get a new board. That Sato 55 rode a little stiff. I can take a summer job, save up. Just a few tweaks and I think I can have it dialed in—ooh, my leg."
Hien shook his head in defeat. "You, my friend, are a lost cause."