A Bridge Into the Next Millennium
For that one perfect girl out there,
Who I’d jump off bridges for.

    Given my situation, and the fact that in just over twenty minutes the second millennium would slip away and a new would start, I thought it would be, well, prudent, to make a few New Year’s resolutions.  I had long since given up arguing that, technically, the year 2000 did not mark the beginning of the new millennium, and that instead 2001 would do so, due to the lack of a Year ‘0’, and gone with the flow of celebrating it at 2000.  It gave me an excuse to party my ass off twice.  Once for the fake millennium, and once for the actual one with every other anal dweeb who chose to make an issue of it.  At the time, though, it was something of a moot issue, since I was fully expecting to be dead or on the fast track out before 1999 ended.

    I firmly resolve not to die tonight.  I thought to myself.  That was a pretty good start.  It got the tough one out of the way.  If I could stick that one out, I could do anything.  It was a long shot though, seeing as how I was hanging by the tips of my fingers off a bridge thirty feet above a river.

    Yes, that’s right.  You heard correctly.  I was hanging off a bridge.  To make matters worse (and this took some doing), I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt, and one tennis shoe.  The wind was bad, and it was starting to snow again.  On top of all this, I was completely schnockered, having consumed obscene amounts of alcohol before I wound up in my little dilemma.  At the party I’d recently left, my friends and I had been playing the “Devil’s Advocate” drinking game, which consisted of taking a shot of either Jack or vodka every time Keanu Reeves’ accent changed.  This is a dangerous game.  People usually drink themselves into the 7th level of Hell before the movie is a third over.  Lord knows I had.  The tall glass of Kool-Aid hadn’t helped.  (It had been reasoned that since vodka was clear like water, it was an acceptable substitute).   I had been drunkenly dangling there for about two minutes when the cat came back.

    The cat was the most direct reason I was in this rather unfortunate situation.  His name was Jonesie, a pretty generic, if somewhat oversized tabby, and the object of more hatred at that moment than any cat really deserves.  I think at this point some explanation is due.

    Jonesie the cat belongs to Katie, the most phenomenally beautiful woman to ever walk the face of the planet.  In my opinion (and I am never wrong), she was absolutely perfect in every way, shape, and form.  Her only flaw was owning that damned cat, but that’s forgivable.  It should be fairly obvious that I worshipped the ground she walked on.  For the entire three years that I had known her, I pretty much bent over backwards to treat her like the goddess I firmly believed her to be.  Of course, I’d never said anything, fearing horrible, soul crushing rejection.  She had to know how googly-eyed I was over her, but she never said anything.  So, it stayed at the level of a very close friendship and nothing more.

    The party she was throwing for the Millennium had been in the works for more than a month.  Her parents were visiting relatives out of state, and she had managed to shuttle her younger brother and sister off to parties of their own at their friends’ houses.  Tons of food was purchased, as well as tons of alcohol.  Her family owned a great entertainment system, so that was taken care of.  Enough fireworks and similar small explosives were purchased to decimate a small town, invitations were sent out, and fingers were crossed against police involvement at any point, since most of the party-goers were still a year or two short of legal drinking age.  It was never mentioned, but naturally assumed as an inevitability that someone would bring pot.  The idea was neither openly opposed nor approved, and nobody would be complaining if it just happened to turn up at some point.  To sum it up, the party was going to be mind-bogglingly fun; morals were to be checked at the door.  It was generally accepted that missing this party would be a bummer of Biblical proportions.  Everyone was hyped up about the party, and the novelty of the New Year itself.  The dawn of the third millennium was an event deserving of a wild, no-holds-barred, reality-altering blow-out like this.

    Had the party been thrown by anyone else other than Katie, I still would have gone, sure, but since it was her party, all the powers of the universe would not be able to keep me away from it.  It made it that much more special.  Attending this party had been my life’s goal since it was first conceived.  And, as if attendance weren’t vital enough already, I had decided that not only would I ensure that Katie was reserved solely for me to kiss at midnight, but that I’d finally ask her out.  My very life, it seemed, was anchored in this party.

    So, of course, everything rapidly spiraled directly into hell that night.

    I arrived early to help Katie set stuff up, and relax a bit before people started rolling in.  I was more nervous than I’d ever been in my life.  I could tell she knew something was up; she kept tossing little smiles my way, and I was constantly sheepishly averting my gaze when we made eye contact.  It only served to put me more on-edge.  The dwindling hours before the party seemed to last millennia all by themselves, but at last people started showing up and the celebrations got swinging.

    I milled around, mostly with Katie and my best friend Seth, sipping the vodka-laden Kool-Aid modestly, since the night was still young.  Just before eleven, somebody decided to put in “Devil’s Advocate,” for the sole purpose of giving structure to the art of getting plastered.  Everyone who wanted to play grabbed a shot glass, and settled down around the living room.  Katie sat down next to me, I’m happy to report, and we wound up, before too long, with our arms around each other, all cuddly-like.  We all took our shots like good boys and girls according to the rules.  I was indescribably happy.  I had a warm, happy, glowy feeling inside, which can be partially attributed to the obscene amounts of alcohol I was consuming, but mainly due to the presence of Katie smooshed against my side.

    It was time for things to unwind.

    At 11:25, the call came from the other room: “FIRST KEG’S DEAD!!  SOMEONE HELP ME BRING IN THE OTHER ONE!!!

    Not knowing what I was getting myself into, I called, “I’ll be there in a sec! Hold on!”  Katie made a sad little pouty face.   She’d been reclining on me.

    “You’re my pillow, dammit.  Stay,” she said with the slow deliberateness of someone who is becoming very drunk.

    “I’ll be right back,” I said in a similar manner.  “Besides, I gotta pee really bad anyway.”  I got up.  “I’m reservin’ you f’r when I get back.  Your pillow’s just gonna be gone for a sec.”  I squeezed her hand and stumbled out to help haul the second keg in.

    The cold was biting, and there were little snow flurries blowing about in the strong wind.  Ted and I managed to get the keg in, and I pushed the door closed, dropped my jacket near the coat rack, and wandered back into the living room.

    “You’re four shots behind,” said Seth.  I took two, and was about to throw the third back, when Katie tugged my sleeve.

    “Didja close the door tight?  I’ sticks s’metimes if i’s cold, an’ doesn’t click all th’ way shut.”

    “I dunno.  I’ll go check, and you’re reeeeal dru-,” THUD!  It was the sound of a door being blown open.  I stumbled quickly out.

    “Don’let Jonesie get out!”  Katie yelled, but as she did so, I saw the furball darting out the door.

    “Shit,” I said, bolting after him, “I’ll get ‘im!” Katie followed me to the door

    “Hurry!  It’s almost midnight,” she called after me. “You gotta be back t’ gimme my kiss!  I got you reserved for me!”

    I almost fell down her porch stairs in my elation, but somehow recovered, and yelled as I tore down the driveway behind the fleeing cat, “I’ll be back!  Don’ kiss anyone else!”

    It should be pointed out at this point that Katie absolutely loved her cat.  She’d gotten him as a kitten for Christmas six years ago, and loved him more than most people love their children.  However, she preferred him to be an indoor cat, and never let him out unless she was with him, so Jonesie was always trying to escape.  He’d managed it a couple times, and always came back in a day or so after having God knows what kind of little cat adventures.  Up until that night, Jonesie and I had gotten along really well.  If he got hurt becase I hadn’t closed the door correctly, I would feel like something ranking between roaches and bat guano.  Katie would be mortified.

    Luckily, I caught up with Jonesie a couple minutes later on the bridge down the street from Katie’s house.  He was wandering along the side rail.  I approached him.

    “C’mere Jonesie, c’mon, let’s go back s’ I can get my kiss.  You don’t wanna be out here anyway.”

    “Meow,” Jonesie argued, and jumped down, not onto the street, but onto the small ledge on the other side of the railing.  I swore drunkenly.  Through the haze of alcohol, I pinned all my guilt onto the cat, and decided logically that the entire thing was his fault.  I leaned over the railing, which was slightly higher than my waist.  The effort made my head swim violently.  Jonesie wandered ccasually away from me, turned, and regarded me.

    “You little shit.”


    I came to the conclusion that the only logical solution would be to inch my way along the railing and try to usher the stupid animal back to a point where I could scoop him up.  God knows how I managed to get over without falling immediately, but I did, without fear.  I was usually petrified of heights, but at this point I was too drunk and angry to care much.  I inched toward the cat.  The cat inched away from me, probably thinking me quite insane.

    Then I tripped on my shoelace.  I figured, as time slowed down, that I was pretty much dead.  The world started to fly upward at me, and I started to scream.  Then there was a jerk, and my scream died with a startled, jolting yelp.

    After a second of hard thought, I realized I had caught myself.  I looked up in time to see Jonesie jump over the railing and wander over to me to peer at the spectacle from behind the fence.

    And that’s how I got into my happy little fix.  In the strangeness of the situation, an out-of-place calm settled over me.  Panic fled, to be replaced by anger (mainly at Jonesie), and annoyance.  A glance at my watch told me I only had twenty minutes to save my own life somehow, gain control of the cat, and make it back to Katie’s in time to receive my kiss.

    I noticed my left shoe was missing, and decided that it really didn’t make one damn bit of difference right now.

    “Meow.” Jonesie said, sounding a little sympathetic.

    “Secondly,” said, “I resolve to kick your little ass.”

    Jonesie hopped up on the railing and peered at me, saying nothing.

    I dangled, freezing, shivering violently with what was probably hypothermia.  I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t hang on forever.  If I tried pulling myself up, I was likely to slip.  However, if I did nothing, I’d eventually slip.

    “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t,” I mumbled

    “Meow,” Jonesie said indifferently.

    After another few seconds, I decided it made more sense to try to climb up.  At least that way I had a chance of making it back on time.  It was slim, but worth a shot. The effort was excruciating to my frozen, drunken muscles.  Sheer panic and adrenaline were possibly the only two things that made it possible, but, screaming in pain, I managed to haul myself up and stand on the ledge.  Jonesie backed away, but remained close as I hugged a support beam, breathing raggedly.  After a minute, I gathered my wits enough to reach out with one arm and grab Jonesie, who came willingly enough.  I hoisted my leg up over the railing.

    Things went to hell again.

    There was a  loud roaring noise approaching.  Above it, I heard loud voices calling into the night, “RIIIIIP!!!”  “BIG DAWG!!!”  “GITTIT!!!”, and the other inexplicable slang of my town’s hillbilly population.

    It was a swerving pickup of drunken, yelling rednecks.  The horn was blaring, and the driver was flashing his brights as the truck veered recklessly across the bridge.  Beer bottles sailed over the edge, smashing on pavement and the railing as they tried to clobber Jonesie and I.

    Jonesie, having been successful frightened by the hicks’ display of maturity, flew into a  psychotic panic, and slashed my face.  I screamed again, and toppled backwards.  Off the bridge.  I swore heartily as I fell, fell, fell.  The whole way, I clung tightly to Jonesie, who did a number on my arms, chest and face with his rotten little claws.

    The drop lasted forever, and I was beginning to think I had already hit and was dead, descending into hell now for my sins of the evening, when more pain than I thought possible racked my body.  I felt like I’d been hit by a train.  Blackness and freezing cold wrapped around me.  I lost all sense of direction, and was again sure I was dead.

    Then I bobbed to the surface, gasping and coughing, and convulsing.  I was in agony.  Still clutching a now limp Jonesie, I began kicking toward what I hoped was the shore.  I blacked out a couple times, I think, but soon I hit the frozen mud and clawed my way up the bank.

    I don’t remember getting back to Katie’s.  It was a miracle I even found the right direction.  I have a dim memory of thudding against her door, and hearing inside dozens of voices chanting, “TEN!  NINE!  EIGHT!”

    “Oh my God, are you okay?”  The voice was behind me. Katie.  Dimly, I reasoned that she must have gone out looking for me, and seen me stumbling up her steps. I felt her grab me, as the door opened from inside.

    “Holy shit!” said whoever opened the door.  I collapsed into the house.

    “FIVE! FOUR!!…” the chant halted suddenly, as everyone saw me.

    “got your cat,” I mumbled.  Jonesie stirred, and crawled out of my arms.  I was distantly glad he wasn’t dead, but only for Katie’s sake.  Voices melded together above me.

    “Jesus, look at all the blood…what happened to that cat…is that a bone sticking out of his arm…whose arm?…his arm, you idiot, cats don’t have arms…what the hell’d he do jump into the river…is he okay…is her cat dead…is HE dead…is there any more eggnog…someone call an ambulance…where’s the phone…I already called…”

    Something warm pressed against my lips.  My kiss!  I had gotten my kiss!  Elation welled up inside me, and I felt like maybe the entire evening wasn’t a total loss.  I began smiling, and opened my eyes a bit, intending to pull Katie closer and kiss her again.  My hand touched something soft; her hair, I naturally assumed, but then my vision cleared.  Jonesie stared at me, and licked my mouth again, and then wandered, shaking the water from his fur, to Katie, who scooped him up and kissed his head, fussing over him.  THE FUCKING CAT STOLE MY KISS, DAMMIT!  All that effort and pain so I could get a kiss from the cat owned by the woman I loved.

    I passed out thinking, What a way to start…I should’ve pushed that damn animal off the bridge…