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
do so, due to the lack of a Year ‘0’, and gone with the flow of
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
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
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
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
bad, and it was starting to snow again. On top of all this, I was
completely schnockered, having consumed obscene amounts of alcohol
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
Reeves’ accent changed. This is a dangerous game. People
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
(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
situation. His name was Jonesie, a pretty generic, if somewhat
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
woman to ever walk the face of the planet. In my opinion (and I
never wrong), she was absolutely perfect in every way, shape, and
Her only flaw was owning that damned cat, but that’s forgivable.
It should be fairly obvious that I worshipped the ground she walked
For the entire three years that I had known her, I pretty much bent
backwards to treat her like the goddess I firmly believed her to
Of course, I’d never said anything, fearing horrible, soul crushing
She had to know how googly-eyed I was over her, but she never said
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
off to parties of their own at their friends’ houses. Tons of
was purchased, as well as tons of alcohol. Her family owned a
entertainment system, so that was taken care of. Enough fireworks
and similar small explosives were purchased to decimate a small town,
were sent out, and fingers were crossed against police involvement at
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
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
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
was an event deserving of a wild, no-holds-barred, reality-altering
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
it that much more special. Attending this party had been my
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
was reserved solely for me to kiss at midnight, but that I’d finally
her out. My very life, it seemed, was anchored in this party.
So, of course, everything rapidly spiraled
directly into hell
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
little smiles my way, and I was constantly sheepishly averting my gaze
when we made eye contact. It only served to put me more
The dwindling hours before the party seemed to last millennia all by
but at last people started showing up and the celebrations got
I milled around, mostly with Katie and my best
friend Seth, sipping
the vodka-laden Kool-Aid modestly, since the night was still
Just before eleven, somebody decided to put in “Devil’s Advocate,” for
the sole purpose of giving structure to the art of getting
Everyone who wanted to play grabbed a shot glass, and settled down
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
to the rules. I was indescribably happy. I had a warm,
glowy feeling inside, which can be partially attributed to the obscene
amounts of alcohol I was consuming, but mainly due to the presence of
smooshed against my side.
It was time for things to unwind.
At 11:25, the call came from the other room: “FIRST
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
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
I gotta pee really bad anyway.” I got up. “I’m reservin’
f’r when I get back. Your pillow’s just gonna be gone for a
I squeezed her hand and stumbled out to help haul the second keg in.
The cold was biting, and there were little snow
about in the strong wind. Ted and I managed to get the keg in,
I pushed the door closed, dropped my jacket near the coat rack, and
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
THUD! It was the sound of a door being blown open. I
“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
her cat. She’d gotten him as a kitten for Christmas six years
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
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,
and I had gotten along really well. If he got hurt becase I
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
Through the haze of alcohol, I pinned all my guilt onto the cat, and
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
a point where I could scoop him up. God knows how I managed to
over without falling immediately, but I did, without fear. I was
usually petrified of heights, but at this point I was too drunk and
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
and I started to scream. Then there was a jerk, and my scream
with a startled, jolting yelp.
After a second of hard thought, I realized I had
I looked up in time to see Jonesie jump over the railing and wander
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
to be replaced by anger (mainly at Jonesie), and annoyance. A
at my watch told me I only had twenty minutes to save my own life
gain control of the cat, and make it back to Katie’s in time to receive
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
“Secondly,” said, “I resolve to kick your little
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
pulling myself up, I was likely to slip. However, if I did
I’d eventually slip.
“Damned if you do, damned if you don’t,” I
“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
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
but, screaming in pain, I managed to haul myself up and stand on the
Jonesie backed away, but remained close as I hugged a support beam,
raggedly. After a minute, I gathered my wits enough to reach out
with one arm and grab Jonesie, who came willingly enough. I
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
“GITTIT!!!”, and the other inexplicable slang of my town’s hillbilly
It was a swerving pickup of drunken, yelling
rednecks. The horn
was blaring, and the driver was flashing his brights as the truck
recklessly across the bridge. Beer bottles sailed over the edge,
smashing on pavement and the railing as they tried to clobber Jonesie
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
to Jonesie, who did a number on my arms, chest and face with his rotten
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
I’d been hit by a train. Blackness and freezing cold wrapped
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
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
her door, and hearing inside dozens of voices chanting, “TEN!
“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
“Holy shit!” said whoever opened the door.
I collapsed into the
“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
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
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
the entire evening wasn’t a total loss. I began smiling, and
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
and then wandered, shaking the water from his fur, to Katie, who
him up and kissed his head, fussing over him. THE FUCKING CAT
STOLE MY KISS, DAMMIT! All that effort and pain so I could
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…