54,55,56, Oh! The pogo stick record had just been broken by yours truly. It had not been broken for weeks and was the first time in a long time I held the title. Boy was I excited. It’s not often you beat the iron man, and when you do, you celebrate!
As I gloated about being the new champ, a stray dog came to join the party. Something was off with this dog. Instead of happy yelling he pouted quite softly. As we pet him and tried to see what was wrong we finally saw, there was what looked like a baby coming out of his ass. We had no fucking idea what to do so we ran home slightly terrified screaming like little girls OH MY GOD did you see that OH MY GOD!?
It was a fun day. I got called home for bed, I gloated a little more about my accomplishments and ran inside. The iron man spent the rest of the night practing, tuning his approach long after I had left.
We met at the stop sign again the next day, pogo sticks in hand. As we walked to the end of the street we saw what looked like a large tree branch in the road. We hadn’t left that there, this was our block, who put It there? As we got closer we realized with amazement that this log came out of that poor dogs ass. It was the size of a coffee can. After some screaming, astonishment, and dissection we got down to pogo business. 41,42,43 oh beat that I said confident even if he could beat that I still had the record. But then, as if I should have been surprised, 43, 44…55,56,57…74,75…,97,98 ohhh! My record had been shattered. You see, if the iron man had a goal there was no competing. It’s just the way it was. You learned to appreciate It and admire him for it.
When we were kids we were the nobodies, the loners, the rejects. While lunch tables were grouped into clicks like the jocks, the nerds, the band geeks, or even the regular dudes, we sat alone. A strange group of kids with no clear meaning or any discernable quality to group us together and none of us gave a shit about that. While each of us had things we were good at, like drinking or drugs, guitar, running or art, somehow we managed to group together and continue on the path to mediocrity. Except one, the iron man. The iron man was a great athlete but didn’t stick with the jocks. Instead of playing football he chose to run on the track. Although talented he was not the best runner in the county. But he had a new goal and while most of us spent our weekends getting drunk, he spent his weekends practicing relentlessly. it wasn’t long before he achieved his goal of becoming county champ in several categories. Day in and day out his name would be heard over the loud speaker at school for achieving some new record or helping the team reach another milestone, but no one ever have the iron man the credit he deserved and he never bragged about it or show bloated. He just trained to be the best he could be. While most of our high school tried so hard to tell us how amazing they were with everything they did, the iron man just showed us with results.
As we went away to college he’d earned tremendous scholarships and earned a spot on the college roster. As the year went on he achieved great academic and athletic success. But the path everyone takes was not for the iron man. If he was going to make an impact in this world it was not going to be by sitting in some class learning from someone who had read some books and never actually done anything. He was going to learn how he always did, by setting a goal, working his ass off and achieving greatness. So he quit college with almost a full ride and near perfect grades .
When we turned 19 he was offered to take a test to become iron worker in the big city. He aced the test. A few months later he started his career as an iron worker just before his 20th birthday. He quickly excelled to be very well respected in his field. I was at a party one night 50 miles away from the city and got talking to a few guys. One of them was an iron worker. Knowing the chances were slim I asked anyway, “i know an iron worker named Jim Brady, do you know him”. These hard ass Brooklyn dudes lost their tough guy accent and hard attitudes and gushed over the question ” You know brady?” They said, “that guy is crazy”. “He’s a machine”. “Makes the rest of us look bad”. ” He got kicked off my job for climbing 20 stories without the security rope”. The stories of legends.
We spent most of our early years talking about girls, but very little time actually talking to them. Eventually, as real life set in he began to talk to girls a lot more. Soon he found the one. They were head over heels for each other. I saw a look on his face I hadn’t seen before, calm and truly happy, maybe it was the face of achievement. After I first met her I lost touch with Brady for about a year. He was off being ‘all in’ on his next goal. About a year later we met at a party they were so happy and so complimentary to each other. I knew they could make each other happy for a long time. Until one day. She had found God and that left little room for the sins and risks the iron man brought to the equation. She had gone all in.
What had he done to deserve this? Like everything he’d done in the past he had gone all in, but this time there was nothing he could do to practice harder to achieve his goals. He changed after her.
The iroman continued working at his career but now had something to prove to everybody. He began over exerting himself at work, pushing limits even his Iron body could not handle. He ended up laid out for several weeks with a nearly broken back those first few years. He shaved his head and eye brows and attempted demand the respect he deserved. He was tired of waiting for people to get how incredible he was so he showed them with his skin head and eagle tattoo emblazoned on his chest. At this time he also started pushing the limits of adrenaline. He started sky diving to blow off extra steam. The days he felt worse he’d take more risk pulling the cord lower and lower. He started drinking excessively and fighting. He still was performing at work but he was starting to unravel.
It took many years after the September 11the bombings to start rebuilding the world trade center. When the job req came open he was at the top of the list to rebuild the most important building in the world. The iron man jumped at the opportunity. Not long after we spoke, He told me about his ambition to rebuild America’s tallest and most important monument and how he though he could really make an impact. Jokingly I said, you just want to build it so you can jump off it. He paused, thought a moment and grinned. “You maniac” I said.
It wasn’t long before the most important person building the world’s most important building was selected for a centerfold on the Sunday edition of the New York Times. Luckily that Sunday morning I bought the paper and happened upon the insert. Of course he didn’t tell me about it to show boat. There was the iron man, on top of the world’s most important building in the world’s most important city in with a full page spread in the world’s most important newspaper. I was proud.
When the day came to put the final spire on the tower he was the one to guide it into place, sealing a new achievement of building as the tallest in the western hemisphere. Crowing him one of the greatest iron workers ever. But that wasn’t enough.
Several months earlier he started plans to pull off the greatest feat NYC had ever experienced. He was going to jump off the world trade center. Hed been planning since before he was even on the job. I like to take credit for giving him the idea but it turns out he was BASE jumping long before I brought the idea to him. He’d been planning the goal for a long long time. This was not something that could be planned with haste. The potential consequences were big. He could fall and die. Or worse fall and end up in jail for years. He enlisted some more experienced base jumpers to help him with the plan. Together they planned the world’s greatest base jump.
As the day drew nearer I questioned him about it and jokingly said I’d be the getaway car, still never having confirmed the plans were real. He laughed and we went on with our chat.
“Thank the fucking dear Lord that we made it here”. The night the spire had been put in place, a crisp September night it happened.
The next day I saw on the news that a security guard had seen 2 men with parachutes land near the world trade center. I knew immediately it was him. The iron man had successfully jumped from the building which he built. The blip on the news was gone the next day and it seemed it went off without a hitch.
Out of nowhere, months later dozens of cops showed up at each of the four guys houses. They raided each of the houses and found videos of the jump. Overnight the city turned an American hero into a villain. Saying he “desecrated a monument”, never once giving him credit for building it. Saying he “endangered people on the ground”, never mentioning the combined 1000 jumps the jumpers had practiced to get to this point and the years of careful.planning. As the time passed it became clear the police were going to leak the video. Already 10’s of thousands of dollars in debt from lawyer fees the group decided to release the video on their own. Once again the police took this opportunity to degrade the iron man saying he was just in this for the publicity. They couldn’t have been more wrong.
The jumpers eventually owned up to their actions and turned themselves in. They were willing to accept the punishment for their crime. They knew based on previous BASE they’d be charged with a misdemeanor for tresspassing, face some community service and pay even more hefty fines.
The city had other plans, to try to send them away in a max security prison for 7+ years. The trial lasted over a year and was really tough on the iron man.
The iron man was cracking. Under huge financial burden and worrying about losing his job he dove deeper into his vices.
The city spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on trials and lawyers, trying to throw the book at the iron man. After emptying his bank account on lawyer’s fees, the iron wound up with a result he were willing to settle with in the beginning. The only winners in this case were the lawyers which combined made over a million dollars. All could have been avoided if the DA didn’t feel the need for job security and had any consideration for tax payer dollars.
Near the end of the trial the iron man moved on with his life. He got a new job. Even with this * on his resume his reputation lives on and employers are still eager to hire him any chance they get.
One morning at his new job something out of the norm happend. As he pulled up to work to park his motorcycle in his regular spot there was another bike in the way. He went inside not understanding the fate that was upon him.
That day he worked from a few stories up and noticed there was a group of people all gathering in the ground floor. As he looked closer he realized what this was, something he’d seen many times before. There was a female on this job. He’d seen this before. The group of guys gushing over this girl, all fighting each other for a one of 30 chance to be the one she liked (if she was even interested). He was not interested in that game.
Later in the day they crossed paths and she Immediately she recognized him from the news. Knowing the legend that he was in the trade, she admired him. Knowing the legend he was in life she blushed and shied away. He thought this was her clearly expressing she wasn’t interested.
At the end of the shift he went to leave. As he approached his motorcycle he heard a bike startup. He looked up to see the girl from earlier getting on her bike. She had gotten out of her work gear and was showing some skin. He liked what he saw but knew he had no chance. As he hopped on his bike he looked over and said “nice bike” which he immediately regretted. Flustered she quickly rode away. He repeated the words to himself “nice bike? What an idiot!”.
The next day he had been transferred to another site. He thought about her often, like the one that got away.
About a week later he got a message in instagram. “hi Jim, I don’t know if you remember me, we worked together for a day. You said I had a nice bike. I was wondering if you wanted to go riding sometime. Let me know.”
I knew something was up when I hadn’t heard from him in a while.finally last week met them at a party. I immediately put my foot in my mouth when I arrived as I looked at them both and asked “who else is here that rode the other bike?”.
We spent the night remminicing about old times as I filled her in about the Jim I knew. We talked until the sun came up, except of course when they were making out. Naively I asked how long have you been together, expecting the tongue down the throat to signal a few weeks max. I moved in a little over a year ago I guess. She said. I had no idea how to respond so I told an embarrassing story about the iron man. As the sun came up they walked to their bikes, arms around each other. He put on her helmet and smacked her ass. As he turned to me to say goodbye I saw a face I hadn’t seen for years before. A little happy a little calm, the face of achievement. As they rode off I knew she had no idea the incredible live, passion, and exciting times she was in for…