Celebrates a great American ritual---


He glanced up at the clock.  It was the enemy.  It ticked away the minutes, the seconds.  There were no hours anymore.   Only short ticks at the end of the yardstick of his life as he knew it.  He sighed lustily and reached for the coffee cup near his elbow.  Without looking he took a swallow and almost gagged when all he got were the cold dregs at the bottom of the cup.  It wasn’t just the clock, he thought as he glanced at his watch.  The notes, the papers, his own anxiety were all the enemy.  It was life or death and it would certainly be death if he didn’t get this done in time.  Why did it always come down to the last minute?  He felt as though he had a gun pointed to his head.  And now, with only minutes left, his brain felt like molasses. 

He looked at his figures again.  Yes, if he calculated this in.  Yes!  That was the missing part.   This added to that.  And then added to the first.  It all worked!  It would work!  He threw the calculations down on the last paper and gathered them up and stuffed them into the envelope.  If only he could make it on time.  Dashing out the door, he fairly leaped into his car and turned the ignition before he had settled into the seat.  The seatbelt was clicked into place as he shifted gears and gunned out onto the road. 

Only a few minutes and too much road.  Would he make it?  Would he be in time?   He had to be.  He roared down the main street and into the parking lot where he fairly screeched into the only parking place left, cutting off someone else in the process.  It didn’t matter—not now, anyway.  He was flying from the seat even before the engine had died and sprinted into the door. 

Faces turned to greet him and he stared open mouthed at those in front of him.   “I thought you said you were never late getting your return in,” he said accusingly to the blond-haired man in front of him. 

Chip blushed.  “Well, you know . . . um, well, with Cheryl and I and all that’s been going on….   Well, time just got away from me.”

“It was that last damned mission,” growled Nelson from in front of Chip. 

The others just shrugged. 

“We’ve got to find a good accountant next year,” Lee said with a sigh.  “I think they would be able to pay their mortgage with just our business.  

“You said that last year, Skipper,” Sharkey growled from behind him. 

“Is there anyone who isn’t here?” Crane asked. 

Everyone looked around.  “Riley,” Kowalski muttered.  “His girlfriend thinks doing income taxes are fun.”

Everyone groaned as the clock ticked the seconds to the midnight hour.  Postal clerks glowered at them as they took their forms and stamped them.  ‘April 15’….  But the collective sigh told the story.  They had beaten the enemy once more.   Without word, with an innate inner knowledge, they all headed across the street to Blalock’s Bar, which for some reason stayed open late on April 15th. 



Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea Contents
Main Page