Party Bounce

READ FLASH FICTION SHORT STORY BELOW (about 700 words)

When I repeatedly fell flat on my back — and sides, shoulders, knees and head — it wasn’t a complete surprise. I mean, when was the last time you tried to walk through one of those bounce house inflatable play structures? You know, the kind you see at children’s birthday parties, work picnics and local fairs?

Anyway, even if you’ve never been in one, all you’ve got to do is look inside and see that it’s not likely you’re going to walk more than a few steps before falling. That’s the point. Only kids would think that’s enjoyable.

For adults, they should be classified as public torture chambers.

Only seconds before the debacle, my wife caught me gazing inside the contraption and thought it prudent to suggest I walk away. Yet, the kids at the extended family gathering were in the pool and the brightly-colored bouncy structure seemed forlorn with no one in residence.

Now, some of us over a certain age might have learned that such wifely advice could just as easily be deemed wisdom. And since my actions sometimes seem to lack such, it’s easy to say I would have been well advised to listen.

But I didn’t.

In my defense, her suggestion was not conveyed as a casual mention or polite support. She remarked rather loudly, “Get the hell away from that thing before you do some damage!” With that kind of encouragement, who could not go in?

The problem wasn’t falling. The inside is well-padded. The problem was the beer. The too many I had before entering.

Although this particularly bouncy house had no maximum age restriction, it should have had an alcohol restriction. And frankly, it should have had an age restriction with or without alcohol. I mean, older human bodies sans alcohol don’t like falling repeatedly any more than those with.

Did I say fall? That’s being generous. That presumes one was standing. Maybe even standing with some semblance of control. There was no instance I fit that definition. I couldn’t even say I rightfully fit the definition of crawling, as I hoped to get the heck out of there after my first few milliseconds upon entering when I became propelled like a random pinball. Which would have been bad enough, except in this case, none of my limbs or joints were being propelled in the same direction.

Although it took me long enough, the only smart motion I made was none. In other words, I gave up and acquiesced to a painful death. After it seemed the last of the beer, burgers, hotdogs, corn-on-the-cob, chips, cookies and whatever else I had consumed were ejected in all directions, I lost the will to live and stopped moving. At last, the kaleidoscope of motion ceased.

My wife spared me the final indignity of needing to be carted away in an ambulance by insisting that no one call 911 as I lay conscious but moaning: the featured object within an abstract art installation of vomit and regret. Someone had deflated the contraption until I could feel the earth beneath my broken arms, legs, ribs and head. Well, in truth, nothing was actually broken, but everything felt like it should be. The stability of the earth was as comforting for its firmness as it was uncomfortable for aggravating all my aches.

Two people helped me out of the deflated cloak of embarrassment and my wife directed them to our car, to deposit me in the back seat. She told them she’d be back to clean up the mess and pick up the kids after she put this human wreck to bed.

I had to call in sick on Monday so I could visit the doctor at my wife’s instance. He said I would be fine but recommended I avoid further bounce house ambitions, with or without beer, regardless of any necessity to spite my wife.

“Do me a favor…” I sheepishly asked before exiting, “…don’t mention any of that to her.”

by George Alger

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