I could always use a little more time and it just so happened that the gentleman seated across the aisle from me wore a rather nice black and gold Movado. I wore a flat gray quartz, well worn and nothing to look at, but it held time to perfection. Only amateurs wore anything with more than a ten-second variance. (Per annum mind you, not some department store model that could lose thirty ticks every month.)
But it wasn’t the old man’s timepiece that caught my eye; he was running a full two minutes fast. How long had the fool been walking around carrying all that extra time?
Get Across the Darkling Free!
“Nice watch you have there,” I said, loudly enough to get his attention.
He peered over the top of his paper, unsure if I was addressing him or the clueless skirt and blouse wearing office drone to his right. I swapped my normal wolfish grin for a sheepish smile.
“Your watch-” I said again, and brandished my own plain affair. I tapped the face in case my words were lost over the steady click-clack cadence of the train, “-it’s very sharp.”
His interest piqued, he folded the paper and laid it across his lap. “Not too many young men care to wear a traditional timepiece nowadays.”
“Savages.” I replied, to which he laughed. When he was done I continued to soften him up. “Can I have a look?”
“Be my guest,” he said, and extended his arm across the aisle to me, “but mind the finger prints… please.”
I gave him my best earnest nod. “Of course,” I replied, and took him by the wrist making a show of examining the face. I oohed and aahed at the fine cut of the inlay and the understated elegance of the black leather strap.
I met his eye and held his gaze fast while my thumb swept counter clockwise over the minute hand and I whispered a perfectly timed incantation.
“Sorry, I didn’t catch that last bit,” he prompted, as he sat back in his seat.
I held up my own watch again. “I’m afraid it will be some time before I can afford anything as nice as that.”
He laughed at my pun and added his own: “your ‘time’ will come, young man.”
The brakes squealed and the train swayed as we entered the station. I was prepared to make my exit, but he rose from his seat instead and we exchanged goodbyes.
I looked down at my quartz and smiled. One hundred and twenty seconds stitched in time; enough to hop past a problem or even slide back for a quick do-over.
I glanced over my shoulder as the train began to pull away and nearly jumped out of my seat. He stood outside the window and made a show of checking the time. “Thank you,” he shouted through the glass, “You’ve relieved me of the worst two minutes I’ve had all week. I wouldn’t try using them if I were you though.” A wolfish grin split his face as the platform disappeared from view.
~ The End ~
As a husband and father of two, Hamilton Kohl frequently finds himself in need of a couple additional minutes on most days. He writes from his cubicle in the scant seconds when his corporate overlords aren’t looking over his shoulder. He hasn’t owned a watch in years.