Gravity of the Situation

Mister Kittredge said it in class and so it must be true that the force of gravity is very weak. He demonstrated, triumphantly holding up a magnet, bristling with paper clips which had easily escaped the gravitational pull of the massive planet under Henry and Rat’s scuffed shoes. Henry dutifully wrote this in his notes. Rat was not impressed, having long ago developed his own theories around what forces were weak in this world. Mister Kittredge, for one. On the other hand, there were forces with which not to screw around. Rat was very clear on those as well.

Rat, or actually Renny Andrew Torrance, suspected that Henry was one of those strong forces. Accordingly, he had allied himself with him on the first day of school in this podunk dumb little town that Mom had moved them to after Daddy took up with that woman. What Rat didn’t know was that Henry was in awe of his new friend’s fearlessness and bravado. Henry wasn’t sure why Rat liked to hang out with him, no one ever had before, but he wasn’t going to question it. He knew what the other kids, including his older brother, Mitch, said about Rat and he didn’t care. Rat was smart and thought of all kinds of cool things to do after school.

The coolest, and yeah, so far the most messed up thing, had been their tree house behind where the dump used to be before it got covered up and had about ten hundred spindly little pine trees planted on it. Henry never would have thought of using those old, oil stained pallets his Dad had piled up out back for anything. But leave it to Rat. It wasn’t so much that they were keeping the tree house a secret, but it wasn’t anyone else’s business and besides, no one asked what they were doing out in the woods after school in the nice weather.

When Mitch got wind of it, though, Rat got his first demonstration of why it was good to stay on Henry’s good side.

They’d been up there on a quiet afternoon, putting on the finishing touches, when Mitch’s head shot up through the hole in the floor where the ladder was. Mitch wasn’t a creep like the guys he hung out with, but he tried. And that day, he tried a little too hard. He got himself a broken leg for his trouble. Rat was astonished when Henry reacted to his brother’s taunts by giving him one good solid kick up side his head. Mitch must have been pretty surprised himself when he came to on the ground with bone sticking out of his left leg. Gravity won that round with Henry’s help. And that got Rat to thinking.

Of course, that was the end of the treehouse. Henry’s parents forbade him to hang out with Rat after school anymore. Because Henry got good grades and had never caused them any worry before, they figured he would do as he was told and went back to what they were watching on TV.

Rat’s next idea was a real doozy, so much so that Henry’s misgivings were written all over his face. Rat was used to this. Good old Henry would come around, though, and he did. Now they got serious about beefing up poor old weak-ass gravity’s reputation. It involved Mister Kittredge’s beloved Volvo and the massive elevator out where the grain siloes were just up County Road 10. And, boy, was this going to be something that people would be talking about for generations. And it was.

“Only Gravity” — AleXander Hirka, digital photo-montage

Published July 2016 as part of the “Two Stories Up!” Series (2016–2017). 
Two Stories Up! was an ongoing project that had Tammy Remington and AleXander Hirka (The Anomalous Duo) each composing a new (extremely short) short story every two months which was then sent via postal mail to interested readers.