Monday, January 09, 2006

One Day at a Time

2005 used one hand to shake the empty Fritos bag. The other, he used to wipe grease on his T-shirt. “Hey, John,” he called, “you’re out of snacks again. Fetch me those chips in the cupboard. I can’t get up now. It’s Tatum O’Neal’s turn to dance.”

John Left walked over to the TV and switched it off at the console. The image of Tatum O’Neal and her partner twirling about dissolved into a blank screen.

“Hey!” exclaimed 2005. “What’s the idea? Some host you are. Keep it up and I might feel unwelcome. Turn Tatum back on.”

Left folded his arms and stood in front of the TV. “In case you haven’t noticed, the holidays are over. Don’t you have somewhere to be?”

2005 scratched the stubble on his face. “Well, yeah. But I’ve got to reexamine my options first. Make a few phone calls. Figure out my next move. I’ll get it done soon.”

“That’s what you said back in November,” said Left, standing his ground. “You haven’t done shit since then. All you do is sit on your ass, gobble junk food, run up the phone bill and watch TV. Sorry, ‘pal,’ but the party’s over. Time to move on.”

“Look, Johnny-boy. You don’t want to get stirred up. Think of your delicate condition.”

“I am. It’s not that ‘delicate’ anymore. And I’d probably be a lot farther along if I didn’t have to deal with a layabout like you 24-7.”

“I told you, Johnny. I got it all planned out.” 2005 tapped his forehead with his index finger. “It’s all up here. I just got to wait for the right opportunity and spring into action. You can’t rush these things. Timing is key.”

Left didn’t reply. He exited the room. 2005 cracked a satisfied grin, dug into the candy dish sitting on the coffee table in front of him and shoveled a handful of M & M’s into his face. He could hear Left moving through the house, but he paid little attention. 2005 had used the remote to switch the TV back on and was fully focused on the waltzing figure of Tatum O’ Neal. Not bad, he thought, ogling Tatum, for a recovering smack addict.

Minutes later, Left reappeared. He tossed a bulging Minnesota Vikings gym bag onto the couch next to where 2005 was sitting.

“Hayb! Whub’s dis?” asked 2005, his mouth full of chocolate.

“I did you a favor,” said Left. “You’re all packed and the car’s warming up outside. Remember that fifty bucks you won on the football pool? It’s just enough for a bus ticket out of town. Come on, I’ll drive you down to the depot.”

2005 sat there with his mouth agape. A yellow M & M was still sitting on his tongue. Before he could say a word, Left grabbed him by the hand and hauled him to the door.

“B-but Johnny!” whined 2005. “You can’t do this. Think of your shoulder. Who’ll keep you company while you’re convalescing?”

Left shoved 2005 out the door. Once outside, he led his rotund guest to the idling Volvo in the driveway. By the nose. “My shoulder’s just about fine. I won’t need any company, ‘cause my convalescing’s done. As is your stint of freeloading here.”

A swift kick in the ass propelled 2005 into the back seat of the Volvo. In a flash, Left was behind the wheel and on the road. The old year sat and chewed his nails.

“You’re gonna regret this, Johnny,” said 2005. “I’ve stuck by you through thick and thin. You’re gonna miss me when—”

“Don’t even say it!” said Left, hanging a sharp right. “No, I won’t. You were the worst year ever. I’m gonna miss you like. . .like a shoulder injury.”

The Volvo skidded to a halt in front of the Greyhound station. Left exited the car and ran around to the passenger’s side. He opened the door, grabbed 2005 by his leg and pulled.

“Please, John, don’t do this!” pleaded 2005, clinging desperately to the seat. “One more month! Just give me one more month, to get my head together! You know I don’t move fast. I like to examine all the angles first. I look before I leap! Please, John, I’ll be good, I promise!”

Left dragged 2005 onto the sidewalk and dropped him there in a trembling heap. He returned to the car for the Vikings bag; this he dumped on the pavement next to ’05. He pushed a fifty-dollar bill into the old year’s sweaty palm.

“There,” exhaled Left, “you’ve got just enough cash to buy a one-way ticket to Minneapolis. You’ll love it there, since you’re such a Vikings fan. Better hurry. The Dog leaves in about fifteen minutes. Thanks for a rotten, miserable and wasted year. Never come back now, y’hear?”

Left hopped back into his Volvo. 2005 screamed something as his beleaguered former host zoomed off. Left, however, cranked up the radio to avoid hearing it. An oldies station. Katrina and the Waves were warbling “Walking on Sunshine”. Left sighed. Even Katrina’s caterwauling was preferable to 2005’s.

“Pardon me,” said a sqweaky voice from in back. “But could you change the station? Unless you like this retro crap.”

Left glanced into his rear view mirror. Mini-Me—or his twin brother—was sitting in the back seat, wearing a top hat and a diaper.

“How the hell did you get in here?” Left asked, turning down the volume.

“I slipped in when you were wrestling with that fat greasy guy on the sidewalk,” said the little person. “I’ve been waiting for you. You’re John Left, right?”

Left winced. “Yes. And I’ve only been hearing that joke since I was ten years old. Glad you got it out of your system. Sorry I’m late, but the old year was reluctant to leave. Please tell me you’re totally different from him.”

Mini-Me laughed. “Don’t be so impatient. You and I have plenty of time to get to know each other. Let’s just take it one day at a time. Speaking of time, what time is it?”

Left checked the dashboard clock. “It’s 8:15pm. Why?”

Mini-Me’s eyes widened. “Step on it, would you, John? ‘Dancing With the Stars’ is on tonight and I want to catch the show. Tatum O’Neal is on there, and let me tell you, she is quite the hot-tie!”

Left groaned and drove on. “One day at a time,” he said to himself. “One day at a time.”


Blogger Cardman said...

Too funny! We all have our little things we'd like to leave at the bus depot. Your writing is great! Looking forward to more of '06!

1:44 PM  
Blogger Happy Villain said...

Great story! I really hope 2006 is going to be much better to you than 2005. And it's good to hear your shoulder is nearly back to normal.

Let's see if you keep your word about posting with greater frequency. :)

8:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2005 did suck...great writing

8:28 AM  
Anonymous Bloggeries said...

Genius! Genius I say!!

Cannot believe I am about done with this review. I want more!!

Please tell me where you sent 2005? Since 2006 has not yet grown, I may have to go re-visit the other guy. At least he knows what I like!

8:22 AM  

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