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Scott D. Zachary

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Member Since: Aug, 2003

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The Quickest Way Down
By Scott D. Zachary
Friday, September 12, 2003

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I enjoyed writing this post to the Forum so much so that I thought I would post it as a short story also.


I just suddenly became aware of what I’ve been doing here in this thread. It parallels another story from my past . . .

About four years ago, I attempted to team up with a much bigger software company, Pick Systems, in an effort to recruit their help in marketing my boat manufacturing and accounting software package (the THRUST Manufacturing System). One of their top technical wizards came down from Chicago to the Arkansas "outback" where my virtual office was tucked away among the thick pines on my six acres. After four solid days of in-depth review, Leo, the Pick Systems expert, said he was thoroughly impressed with my nearly 300,000 lines of programming code and with its operational effectiveness at Kenner Boats.

Having achieved my goal of gaining Leo’s confidence in my software, I asked him if he would like to relax and go swimming at Lake Dardenelle. He said he would love to unwind, so Leo, my girlfriend, and I drove to my favorite swimming hole located in Flat Rock State Park. Leo said he wasn’t much of a swimmer and was content to wade along the shore. I love to swim almost as much as I like to breathe, so I dove in and swam out into the channel. As I breast-stroked past a vertical cliff on the other side of the lake, I noticed a man sitting at the edge of the precipice, about fifty feet up. Since I had seen a few people jump from where he was sitting on previous occasions, I hollered at him and asked if he was going to jump. He told me that he was thinking about it, and then asked me if I was going to jump. I really hadn’t considered jumping that day. In fact, on a number of previous visits to Flat Rock, I had tried to summon the courage to climb up there and jump, but I always chickened out.

A brazen impulse prompted me to say, "Sure, why not?" I swam over to the cliff, climbed to the top, and sat down next to that man who was contemplating the quickest way down. He told me that he had to do it because his eight-year-old daughter was watching from the other side of the lake and would be disappointed if he didn’t jump. Noticing Leo and my girlfriend jeering at me, I told him that I had to do it in order to impress my business associate who was visiting from Chicago; and of course, I also wanted to score points with my girlfriend.

After some intense internal debate, I said something like the following to my fellow want-to-be jumper: "It’ll sound like I’m talking to you, but I will actually be coaching myself into leaping out into all that empty space in front of us." I proceeded to verbally seek the appropriate logic (or illogic) that would persuade myself into taking the plunge. I don’t recall the initial part of my soliloquy, but the final words that convinced me are still crystal clear in my memory. They came from a popular country and western song of that time: "You can quit drinking and quit smoking, you can attend aerobics classes, you can diet and you can quit eating meat, but you’re still gonna die." At that moment I stood up, stepped back several paces, bellowed Tarzanically, and sprinted past my fellow would-be jumper out into midair. Once I was eight or ten feet horizontally away from that cliff, I hung there—fifty feet above the water—for what seemed like an impossible amount of time. In fact, I had enough motionless time to look back at that man, look down at the water, and look back at him again before it registered in my mind what I had actually done. I clawed at the air all the way down in a frantic attempt to climb back up. Of course, my fellow jumper then had to follow my lead. He stood up, shook his head, and stepped off the cliff. His daughter, my girlfriend, Leo, and everyone else over at Flat Rock cheered. I was ecstatic—I finally did it!

That was a lot of words to say that I appreciate having your virtual ear while I coached myself into smacking "Scorn THIS" over the fence.

Thank you,


Feel free to print this story and share it with your friends, but please give credit to the author, Scott D. Zachary.

Please watch for my thriller novel, Scorn THIS, published by Llumina Press—available October 1, 2003. Advance orders may be placed at or on Llumina Press’ toll-free number: 1-866-229-9244.


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Reviewed by Shorty White 7/6/2006
Great read. We all have to go sometime and due to the way this crazy way this world is today, we should live for the moment and not worry about when that day will come. While we know it is inevitable, at least by living each day to the fullest, hopefully when that day comes we will not look back and say if only I would have done so and so. Keep up the good work - enjoyed your writing.
Reviewed by Brenda Ross 9/23/2003
Great anecdote. It has always been my contention that I only want to die once and when the time comes I will deal with it as best I can. But in the mean time it seems pointless to use fear as a deterent against trying new ventures.
Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 9/13/2003
Excellent write, Scott; enjoyed the read! :D (((HUGS))) and love, your Texas friend, Karen Lynn.
Reviewed by Tami Ryan 9/12/2003
As always, you're a real pleasure to read, Scott! Very well done.

Reviewed by Ed Matlack 9/12/2003
Well, Scott, as always you present a story of personal triumph, that keeps me reading and hoping for more...please! Thanks, ED & Woofie

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