Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Oops (01/14/10)
TITLE: A Grate Ending
By Bryan Ridenour
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"Oops? Is that all you can say? Oops?" Tyler muscled past his best man, rushed down the church aisle and bounded up two steps leading to a spacious platform. Dropping prostrate, he peered into the heating grate. Somewhere in the darkness, a golden band rested out of sight.
He pushed to his feet, sighing heavily. "Gerald, what were you doing up here with the ring anyway?"
Gerald shifted nervously from side to side. "I was just practicing."
Tyler shot Gerald an angry glare. "Practicing for what?" he managed to ask through gritted teeth.
Gerald tugged at his collar; beads of sweat pooled on his brow. "I was practicing the pass."
"I was practicing the pass," Gerald repeated. "You know; the minister asks if there's a ring for the bride; you turn to me; I pass you the ring. I was practicing the pass."
"I took it cleanly from my pocket, but on the imaginary pass, I fumbled." Gerald's shoulder's slumped as his eyes dropped to the floor. "It took two small hops and..." Gerald's voice trembled, "sailed through the grate."
Tyler's features softened. "Hey buddy, it's gonna be alright. Do you have that mini-flashlight I gave you?"
Gerald wiped his eyes on his tuxedo sleeve. "You mean the groomsmen gift? Sure." Gerald pulled the flashlight from his interior coat pocket. "Here."
Tyler shone the light into the pitch-black ductwork; a small circle of gold reflected the beam.
"There it is!" Gerald pointed excitedly.
Tyler stood, grinning ear to ear. "Gerald, I have a confession to make."
Gerald turned to face his lifelong friend. "That golden band is nothing more than a washer covered in spray paint."
"That's right," Tyler continued. "You have a real habit of losing things and dropping things, right?"
Gerald's face colored crimson.
"I couldn't take the risk of you letting the ring slip through your fingers, so I kept it--giving you a fake."
A smile played at the corner of Gerald's mouth. "I'm not that bad, am I?"
Tyler smirked. "Don't you remember being dubbed 'Da Fumbler' in High School?"
Gerald nodded. "Yeah, but I thought that was a cool German superhero."
Tyler shook his head and both friends busted into raucous laughter.
"So," Gerald started, composing himself, "the real ring is safe and sound?"
"It's right here." Tyler dug into his coat pocket and displayed the band in his open palm.
"It's a beauty," Gerald remarked.
Gerald reached for the ring, knocking it from Tyler's hand. Both grabbed wildly, catching nothing but air. A sickening clink told the story.
"Gerald!" Tyler shouted, snatching the flashlight.
"Oops," Gerald moaned dropping to his knees.
Tyler chuckled then laughed heartily. Dangling from a chain around his neck, the ring rested securely. "Gotcha."
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