I don’t know how New Years Eve has been for you but for the two of us the past several have rolled out as follows: a quiet evening at home with a nice supper, followed up with a movie, which we interrupt around midnight to watch the ball drop. On the turning of this year, prompted by my bride, we tried something different…I believe she felt that the new adventures we were embarking on had changed her perspective and called for a different approach, which should be a part of our NYE.
Her idea was as simple as it was apropos—we come home, get settled and then each of us supply one sentence to the other. Beginning from that sentence each sits down and writes a short story before the evening is over—limit three to five pages. Wonderful. Of course, me being me I tried to complicate it and plan the evening out in forty-five minute blocks with breaks for snacks, chats and supper. I also came up with five sentences for her to choose from instead of one…that’s me, to be sure, but not in the spirit of the evening. So I let that go, handed off just one of my five first lines and we were on our way.
As it turned out we did take a couple of breaks for a quick chat and some supper—I am thinking that the writing, breaks included, took a little over three hours—and the result was lovely. You will probably have guessed that they were both romances, but each took individual personalities and quirks along for the ride. We read the stories aloud, talked about each one and then…you guessed it again…we turned on the TV and watched the ball drop.
In case you are curious, here is my NYE story—after a bit of editing which consisted of tightening up the word count and checking some facts. I send this out to you in gratitude for reading and walking with me into the new…
As he sat on the bus bench, listening to his transistor radio, hoping that the battery wouldn't run out before the football game was over, he wondered why, of all the four seasons, he hated this one so much.
“Another time out?”
“Didn't they just take...”
“Look Jackson,” Andrews intoned, “The Bears called that one,” a finger point. “Now we're talking the Cardinals!”
“...oh,” was Jackson's response. “I must have missed that subtlety.”
“Subtlety!” Andrews squawked. “Come on friend, we're talking about the game here!”
“And St. Louis must beat Chicago—or else..?”
“You got that—or else.”
Thankfully, the bus pulled up. Once on board there would be no need for his battery weakened five dollar radio. Every other passenger on board would be blaring their own Japanese jobs or maybe even one of those newfangled Boom Boxes. The only problem now was how to keep this treble throated St. Louis Cardinal fan quiet on a Chicago city bus full of bird busting Bear fanatics...
St. Louis made it to the 18 yard line—4th and 2. They decided to go for it.
“Bad choice.” One of the Chicago faithful spouted from the back of the bus.
This same thought was on Jackson's mind as he put his hand over Andrew's mouth and in clamping down, kept the peace.
Why am I here? Jackson wondered. Do I have some kind of death wish?
Must be—considering the company he chose to keep.
Andrews was Jackson's most controversial co-worker at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Sure, Terry, unlike Alan, was motivated, and the most rewarded clerk on the floor—but there was something else. Something that kept all of Jackson's other co-workers at arms length. Terry Andrews was a girl.
Somehow, the pair managed their trip from Michigan Avenue to Evanston before the final play of the game. The Chicago rooters were screaming pass interference while the St. Louis faithful applauded some superb examples of man-on-man coverage. Cardinals 38 Bears 21. The controversy that followed raged for the remainder of the season...
Week seven and the teams stood even, 4 wins—3 losses.
“How bout I let you buy me a couple of beers to celebrate!” Terry cried, slapping Jackson on the back.
“How bout you buy me another nine-volt battery,” Alan said, shaking his radio. “This is the fifth one that's gone flat since the beginning of the Fall.”
“Done!” Andrews extended a hand for the high five.
“You know, Autumn used to be my favorite season...” Jackson mumbled
“Ahhh, what a season!”
“But, maybe you're right...”
“Back in September, I thought I'd figured out the attraction...” Alan said.
“Took you long enough!”
“And nine is my favorite number...”
“And early in the season...”
Jackson cut her off. “But now, I don't know what to think.”
“Are you sorry?”
“Want to back out?”
“Not even close to that.” He was resolute.
“Then, what's the…”
“It's this winner take all business.” Alan tried to find Terry's eyes. “Seems like a frivolous way to...”
“Enough!” Her turn to cut him off. “This is home. Come on up.”
It took a couple of minutes to navigate the fifteen stairs to the top of the stoop. A few more to get to the second floor. Alan noticed that she was moving slower this week. Every step seemed to carry a bit of a wince. He helped her into a chair before pulling up one for himself.
“You know it's not what I want.” She said. “This way you get your fair chance.”
“But it's me too.”
“I'm doing all the work.”
“Enough—nine more games will decide it.”
“Nine again…” Alan sighed.
The Bears went 10 and 6 that year, to top the NFC Central. The Cardinals finished 9 and 7. But Alan Jackson didn't celebrate the end of football season. His celebration came on New Years Day, when Winter became Alan’s favorite season, along with the arrival of a seven pound baby daughter.