WATCHING THE CLOCK ON OLD YEAR'S NIGHT
by Matthew Sanborn Smith
Unbelievable. Just a year ago he was a fat and sassy little baby, shaking it for all to see in nothing but a white sash and a suntan. Now here he stood, hunched over his cane, bald head aglow above the comet-like tail of his long white beard. He looked again at the clock. Not much time left. This must have been how Saddam felt just a couple of days ago. When that big bloody ball descended mere hours from now it would be like watching the executioner's switch thrown in an unbearable slow motion.
What a screw job. It hadn't even been much of a year. Damned elections. Between the attack ads, the debates, the pundits and election day coverage itself, he'd missed out on days of quality television time. He wasn't a political animal. 1968 had enjoyed politics. Now he'd had a good life. All 2006 had wanted was new episodes of Married With Children and there wasn't a chance of that happening.
At least he had half an Olympics. If they hadn't switched their crazy little system around, he wouldn't have had that.
2006 hoped there was such a thing as reincarnation. Imagine coming back as 4017! He bet that would be a cool year. Maybe they'd have world peace by then. No, No! A leap year! What could be better than being a leap year? To have your life artificially extended by .274 percent. Man, that would be sweet. What would he do with an extra day if he had it? Catch some more of the Twilight Zone marathon, he supposed. Eat a whole bag of Doritos. He really liked the Twilight Zone. And Doritos.
But of course, all that extra life would have been stolen from three other years that had their lives cut short by six hours each. He didn't think he could live with the guilt of those poor suckers' hours on his hands.
Wait a minute! He was one of those poor suckers! Who was it? Was it 2004 that stole his time? Or would it be 2008? He wanted revenge on one or both of them suddenly, more than he wanted anything else in life. But those years weren't here to face him like men. His eyes filled with water until the clock on the wall blurred.
"Stop it, stop it, old man," he told himself. He wiped his face. "This is the hand you were dealt. Make the most of it. Seize the day."
He checked the clock again, with a clearer head. He turned on the TV. Cheers would be on soon. It was one with Diane. He liked Diane.