“Don’t look down!”

There it sat. In a file box on the corner of his desk. Finally, Sherm Feldmeier had completed his manuscript. The Great American novel, or at least Sherm’s version of it. And it only took him seventeen years.

Seventeen years doesn’t qualify one as an “overnight success”. Hell, Sherm thought, “I don’t even qualify as a long-term success. He of the prestigious vocabulary and all the resolve of strawberry gelatin. He surely had much to say, but Feldmeier always fell short of the mark. Gung-ho until crunch time. And then the bottom drops out.

In the corner of his ersatz office stood his file cabinet. The place where all his great thoughts and ideas go to die. Sherm always saw himself as the guy out on the tight-rope, all balanced and assured until he glanced at his feet and saw the precipitous fall that awaits him. Then, with his composure blown tumbles head over ankles to a violent end.

In his head, the manuscript spoke to him. It said “SPLAT!” Sherm couldn’t understand why after all this research and preparation he would be so terrified by rejection that he saved his every publisher the trouble of reading his masterpiece tome.

“Do I, or don’t I?” was always in the back of Sherm Feldmeier’s mind.

His father was a mench. A real human being, never afraid to put himself out there for all to rely upon. Sherm asked him once why he was so fearless putting himself on the line like that; out on the high-wire.

“Confidence comes from right here” the elder Feldmeier would say pointing to Sherm’s chest. “And…” he continued, “don’t look down”

Sherm had all these questions bounding around in his head, but very few answers. “Confidence” he muttered, rubbing the middle of his chest. “The worst thing to happen would be that I would fall flat on my tuchus”, Sherm rationalized. “What would be so terrible?” he asked himself. “I pick myself up and dust my pants off. I’d try again”

Feldmeier stood staring at the corner of his desk. The doorbell resounded once or twice before Sherm took action. Two steps closer and he was standing over his parcel. In to his hands it was lifted, it’s heft and girth made it feel like an impressive work, even if it was only drivel. Tucking the box under his arm, he made the last few steps to the front door.

Over and over, in silence Sherm muttered his mantra. The purpose of his craft rested in its effectiveness. As he opened the door he saw the young courier in his pressed uniform poised to greet him. Feldmeier took a deep breath and let it out slowly, handing the package to the carrier.

The jovial driver wished Sherm a good afternoon and turned on his heels toward his livery van.

Sherm didn’t hear the young man’s goodbye. He didn’t hear the car door slam, or the engine turn over. Feldmeier could not hear the whine of the gears as he accelerated down the street and out of view. All Sherm Feldmeier heard was his father’s resonant response.

“Don’t look down!”


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