12-01-2012, 07:52 PM
Springs looked up at the giant TV over the bar. He watched a commercial for the History Channel's Doomsday Countdown beginning in December. There would be nonstop programming about killer asteroids, nuclear war, diseases, zombies taking over the earth and all that BS. Oh, yeah, something to really look forward to, all right. Of course, there'd been a lot of hoopla about the world coming to an end on the twenty-first of December lately. Hell, you would have to have been living under a rock not to notice it!
Naturally, Springs didn't believe any of it for one minute. Cynicism came with age, and he had plenty to spare. Besides, there'd been nut cases running around saying the world was going to end ever since Billy Sunday. Bearded hippie types bearing picket signs that the end was tomorrow, or overzealous religious freaks blathering on and on about the Last Judgement--he'd seen them all through the decades. Yet the human race still lived on, bringing about the next generation, and the next, and the next, going about its business as usual.
Still, the doomsayers persisted, babbling about The End, calculating the exact time and date the world's number came up, warning everyone to prepare for the end of the world. Just when, and how, it would end had been anyone's guess. The usual scenario had been a big storm, with thunder, lightning, hail, earthquakes and fire falling from the sky--big Day of Judgement stuff like that. Floods, fires, famine, etc., etc.--just one big natural disaster after another.
Then, when they dropped the A-bomb on Japan, all bets were off; they could bring about the end of the world with just a push of a button. That had hit home to him during the Cuban Missile Crisis back in Sixty-Two: the Commies had their nukes lined up right in our backyard and were just one flick of a switch away from total annihilation. He remembered sitting with Mick, Blusey, and Shorty at Mick's mansion when the crisis was at its peak, drink in hand, wondering if the Russkies would ever be crazy enough to pull it off. Thankfully, the Commies agreed to pull out of Cuba in exchange for the US's withdrawl of its missiles from Turkey, ending the stalemate. It had taken some quick thinking on JFK's part to dodge that bullet. All in all, there had been a few close calls in the course of his lifetime--the Crisis, the civil rights movements that resulted in violence, Nine-Eleven--but somehow the world always managed to pull through, and he managed to pull through with it.
Springs turned back to his Manhattan. Yeah, he managed to pull through, only because he had something to live for back then, his son, Brian, being number one on the list. When he received the telegram from the military regretting to inform him of the loss of Brian Joseph Springer, PSC, in a minefield somewhere in the middle of Vietnam, it was as if the world had ended for him right then and there. From that moment, life had spiraled downhill. His second marriage ended in divorce, just like his first. His "business partners" passed away, one by one: first Blusey, then Shorty, then, finally, Mick. When he had suffered that bout with stomach cancer, a part of him had wished he would die soon, just to end the dreariness and the lonliness of his life.
Now, here he was, drowning his sorrows with one Manhattan after another. The doc said he needed a pacemaker, though at his age the odds of his surviving the operation were risky at best. Well, so what? He had taken bigger risks than that ever since he joined The Guys in their business operations in Vegas. And even if he did kick the bucket finally, well, again, so what? He had lived a good, long life (though much of it hadn't been so good, relatively speaking) and he was tired of living, anyway. Maybe he should just bide his time and wait for his number to come up, just like Mick did. Why go through the time and expense of prolonging it?
Springs looked up at the TV screen once again. It was broadcasting some big deal about the Mayans prediction about the end of the world in December again. So the world's number was coming up, too. Well, one thing was for certain, he thought: one of them wouldn't make it to see the New Year.