I eventually cornered the genuine van Asch. I asked him the length of the bungy cord. His eyes invisible behind mirror shades, he answered, "Long enough."
Could he give me a number?
"You asked for a number. Would you prefer three? How about 39?"
I persisted. Any injuries?
"Well, yes. The spectators often get sore necks. And one guy stubbed his toe running up the path from the river after his jump." Not a hint of a smile.
It was by now late afternoon. I took a deep breath and handed over the equivalent of $40. After being weighed to ensure proper adjustment of the bungy, I crawled out onto a small platform. Helter Skelter wrapped a nylon strap around my ankles, pulled it tight and hooked the bungy cord on the strap. Heart pounding, I hauled myself up and hopped to the edge of the abyss. "Toes over the edge," he commanded.
"Take some deep breaths and relax." I tried to conjure up a recurring dream I have in which I euphorically swoop and soar like a bird.
"Look straight out at that cliff over there. I'm going to count down from five, and then I want you to dive out as far as you can."