Pulling the rip cord, it failed to work. Same with the rip cord for the escape  chute.  Spiraling down, I quickly deduced that my parachutes were not supposed to open. As I glanced above at the quickly receding figure of my wife, whose parachute did open, did I spot a glimmer of satisfaction spreading across her face as she eagle-eyed me plunging down?

            Realizing I had but seconds before I crashed into the terra firma, it did not escape me that the priority at the given moment is to organize my last thoughts in order of priority. Ironically, this , in a nutshell, has been the principal shortcoming of my life-concentrating on what I judged to be deserving of my attention to the absolute exclusion of everything and everyone else.

            Starting off, in my freefall, I am dying to identify the party who tampered with my chutes. Although I can name a long line of suspects, time being at a premium, the short list will have to do.

            Getting back to my wife of 25 years, Gretchen, she certainly has the motive and means. To spark our humdrum lives together, we came up with some fun things to do, like this parachute jump. Deathly afraid of heights, I skittishly agreed to go on the jump as a way of atoning for the countless affairs I have engaged in. Gretchen’s very expensive ace private detective had been most thorough in providing her with a detailed log of these indiscretions, including graphic photographs. As the sole beneficiary of the estate , totaling, at last check, $1.83 billion, she stands to reap a mega-fortune. Yes, Gretchen-now just a dot in the sky-has it in her venal, twisted mercenary being to do something like this!

            Regarding my worthless, base children, Ormond and Corrine, I wouldn’t put patricide not being in their dissipated, debauched natures. For that matter, so is virtually every other ignominy. Sent to the finest posh schools, this dynamic deficient duo wound up in and out of pricey drug rehab clinics. These siblings have succeeded in doing nothing more than squandering their fat, ridiculously inflated trust funds. Depending on paternal handouts, they, too, have ample motive. At any rate, with my demise, this leaves just one to go for them, doesn’t it?- A very expendable mother.

            Onto my business associates: Those I built my hi-tech empire with would have prospered very well on a pirate ship. They are not the kind to turn my back on. My Chief Exec, Annabelle, the figure directly under me-in more ways than one-did not rise through the ranks through or by altruism. A natural cutthroat, she savaged her way to her present position by taking no prisoners. With me gone, of course, she would stand to step right into my shoes.

            Now while I am at it, who else would get top billing a suspect? Personal enemies?  I could write a book with those who I had cheated, squeezed, swindled, misled, betrayed, or double-crossed. What can I say? Rationalize and declare that business is business? That I slop in the mud like all the others as a means of getting ahead? What is the point of these rationalizations as I am twirling downward?

            Then, of course, there are my paramours. As far as the succession of squeezes I have poked, each was either well-paid for her services and/or enjoyed her position at the office in exchange for her favors, a classic quid pro quo. Call these couplings simple business transactions. Did one of them get catty and decide to waste me?

            So, as I catapult down, it occurs to me that I have to choose the perp from a most crowded field. Maybe that is just the point.  No angel, I fully admit that I gave plenty of cause. I proved to be an utter failure as a husband and parent. I made hundreds of millions in my tech firm without paying the slightest attention to morals or ethics, a letter perfect capitalist entrepreneur.

            Checking below, as I can see that, as I am a football field away from hitting the ground, I had better get myself in position. I have decided to dive head first. My plan is to go out the same way that I came into the world. I have to say that coming to an end isn’t as bad as I thought. Pow! Slam! Bang! And it’s over. Simple as that. Well, here goes nothing! As for my closing words, I feel that I must——.

Robert Gamer currently lives in Danvers, Massachusetts. He is currently working on another novel.