There were some who spent the savings of several generations on one last spree. Many insulted those they could not afford to insult and kissed those they shouldn't have kissed. No one wanted to end up without confession. The parish priest gave preference to the pregnant and to new mothers. This self-denying cleric lasted three days and three nights in the confessional before fainting from an indigestion of sins.
When midnight came on the last day of the century, all the inhabitants of San Jose de Gracia prepared to die clean. God had accumulated much wrath since the creation of the world, and no one doubted that the time had come for the final blowout. Breath held, eyes closed, teeth clenched, they people listened to the 12 chimes of the church clock, one after the other, deeply convinced that there would be no afterwards.
But there was. For quite awhile now the twentieth century has been on its way; it forges ahead as if nothing had happened. The inhabitants of San Jose de Gracia continue in the same houses, living and surviving among the same mountains of central Mexico--to the disenchantment of the devout who were expecting Paradise, and to the relief of sinners, who find that this little village isn't so bad after all, if one makes comparisons.