Tom Benecke makes an impulse decision to retrieve his yellow paper from the ledge in Jack Finney’s short story “The Contents of the Dead Man’s Pockets.” He takes a few minutes to examine the circumstances, noting the ledge is as wide as the length of his shoe, before his grabs his coat and climbs out the window.
The ledge is perched eleven stories above busy Lexington Avenue in New York City, but Tom is undaunted as he leaves his apartment. Without analyzing the situation for too long, he begins to move along the ledge sliding one foot after the other with his face up against the building. Although he miscalculated the width of the ledge a bit, he moved along confidently, turning off his thoughts and acting on instinct. As he moved, he balanced on the balls of his feet in a similar fashion to a tightrope walker. It was not until he reached the paper and knew he had to bend over to retrieve it, that self-doubt arose.
Without pause he continued--right foot, left foot, right foot, left--his shoe soles shuffling and scraping along the rough stone, never lifting from it, fingers sliding along the exposed edging of brick.