Angus sat up abruptly, the unnerving sound of his watch alarm a singing intrusion into his fragile sleep. He was surprised to see that he was on the couch, then numbly recalled why.
“Fred. Fred. Freddy. It’s almost time.”
A hint of a person, pretzeled into a Lazy Boy, unfolded its legs and arms, groaning with the effort. “Oh shit, honey. It used to be easier than this.”
“Everything used to be easier, Freddy.”
“Can’t we just sleep through it this year, Angus?”
“No, we cannot just sleep through it. Daylight savings gives us an extra hour of life every November at 2:00 AM and we will celebrate it just as we have every year since 1984.”
“Neighbor Sebastian says we don’t really gain an hour because we jump ahead in March and lose an hour.”
“Sebastian wouldn’t know an extra hour of life if it kissed him on the ass.”
“Wouldn’t care to see that, Angus. What do you want to do with our extra hour?”
“I bought some bubbly for the occasion.”
“Gives me gas. How ‘bout we just dance our extra hour of life to ole blue eyes?”
“No dancing, Freddy. Knees are acting up.”
Are you kidding me, Angus? You’ve got two new ones.”
“You know what the doctor said, Freddy. No lateral movements.”
“We’re not playing ice hockey, Angus. We’re dancing for God’s sake.”
A fragile silence hovered over the two men, their heads lowered in shared frustration.
“Too bad we can’t just give away our extra hour of life, Angus. We’re getting too old to enjoy it, anyway.”
Forgetting his knees, Angus jumped up with a lightness that surprised him. “Brilliant idea, Freddy!”
“Love being brilliant. Would like to know why.”
Angus slid across the wooden floor in his knee-high socks, finishing with a Fred Astaire flair. “What’s brilliant, husband, is we give our hour of extra life away; a symbolic gesture toward the ones we love most.”
“That’s nutty, Angus. And you know me, I love nutty. But how?”
Angus emitted a mad-scientist giggle and squeezed into the Lazy-Boy with Freddy. “We’ll write down the names of everyone we love. Then at 2:00 AM, we’ll each pick a lucky winner.”
“Ok, got that part. Then what?” Freddy held his cell phone up to his ear. “Hello? Person that I love? I’m giving you an extra hour of life. What? What’s that? You think I’m screwy? On drugs? Senile?”
Angus laughed. “Send them a postcard, Freddy.”
“They still make postcards?”
“Damnit, Freddy, I don’t know. Maybe something Hallmarkian.” Angus dramatically swept his index finger across the air, as if pointedly reading.
“Soon enough you will be raving
Feeling good, not misbehaving
Here is something you’ve been craving
Courtesy of daylight saving.
From me to you – my extra hour of life!”
Freddy giggled. “Sounds like a Burma Shave ad, Angus, but I’m all in. What’s next?”
“Ok, we’ve only got 27 minutes until 2:00 AM when the clocks move back. Write down the names of everyone you love. Then, at 2:00, we’ll draw names out of a hat. The winners get an extra hour of life, courtesy of Freddy and Angus.”
Freddy glanced around the perimeter of the room, a quizzical look on his face. “Who owns a hat around here?”
“You do. The fedora you wore when you were Bugsy Malone last Halloween.”
“Oh, yeah. One slightly used fedora coming up! You get the paper and pencils. Woo-hoo, who knew that giving away an hour of life could be such fun!”
Angus and Freddy dashed about the house, briefly crossing paths, only pausing long enough to embrace before hurrying on. They reconnoitered at the dining room table and began cutting the paper into thin slips. Soon, there was a pile in front of each man.
“Alright, Freddy. Only eighteen minutes to go. Write down the names of everyone you love!”
“Everyone, Angus? Every single person I love?”
“Everyone, Freddy. Start with those you love most and move backwards from there. Now, go, go, go!”
Both men began writing feverishly, occasionally pausing to consider a name before writing it down. As the pile of names before each man slowly grew, their writing slowed, with occasional bursts of scribblings. And then, almost simultaneously, both men looked up.
“I can’t think of anyone else,” Freddy confessed.
“Neither can I,” said Angus. “But that’s ok. It’s time. 1:59 am, to be exact.”
“Ok. What Now?”
Angus scooped up the slips of paper and spilled them into the fedora. “Time to draw a name, husband of mine. Get ready. Five – four – three – two – one! Pick a name!”
Both men plunged their hands into the fedora, swishing them around as if their fingers could discern the most deserving recipient of an extra hour of life. Slips drawn, they eagerly read the names.
“Oh, my,” Angus breathed.
“Oh, dear,” Freddy gasped.
“I drew your name,” said Angus.
“And I drew yours,” said Freddy. “When you said to write down the names of everyone you love, starting with the person you love most…well, I just naturally wrote your name down.”
“That’s what I did too,” Angus admitted. “Now what?”
Both men stared at each other, their plans, their glorious plans gone awry.
And then, realizing what capricious fate had given them, Angus and Freddy started to laugh.
It began as a delicate undercurrent of laughter but quickly crescendoed into rollicking, tearful, breathless laughter, the kind of laughter that insists on having its day and not relinquishing it until fully expended.
“Angus,” Freddy sputtered between gasps, “my dear husband of 38 years, I hereby bestow upon you my extra hour of life.”
“And I, dear husband,” Angus managed, wiping away tears, “Do solemnly… or rather, not so solemnly, grant you my extra hour of life.”
Their testimonies complete, their laughter spent, the two men embraced.
“How about I crack open that bottle of bubbly?” Freddy offered with a wink.
“Splendid, husband. I’ll crank up the hi-fi and put on old blue eyes. These re-built knees of mine still have a shimmy or two left in them.”
The two men moved effortlessly throughout the dimly lit house, the silence broken when a champagne bottle popped its cork and a scratchy recording of Frank Sinatra singing ‘Love is a Many Splendored Thing’ began to play.
And then, Angus and Freddy came together as two people do, who have lived in love for 38 years. They danced, they sang, they drank champagne, celebrating the greatest gift they could have ever given or received – an extra hour of life with each other.
About the author:
Dave Bachmann is a retired teacher who taught writing, reading and life skills to adolescents with special needs in Arizona for 39 years. He now lives in Cali, writing stories and poems for children and grown-ups with his wife Jay, a retired elementary teacher along with their 15-year-old lab, Scout (of To Kill a Mockingbird fame).