|The Grandfather Clock (standard:romance, 946 words)|
|Author: Cyrano||Added: Jan 01 2009||Views/Reads: 1805/948||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|Time, in the end, is only what we agree it should be.|
Jack wakes, rises and makes himself ready. Today he wants to be extra smart because today is his last day. This evening he will walk home recalling sixty years working at the docks, and never once late. Jack will be missed. His face is familiar all over town, not just in the docks where he began as tea boy, till this as the ‘whistleblower'. It is a very important position; he was told when the promotion was offered to him. Jack attended a ‘special' school before being hired at the docks. He wasn't the brightest flame in his class, suffering mild learning difficulties, but Jack is a happy man for all his tribulations, and is well liked by all who know him. Jack found his place as a thirteen-year-old among brawny men, hard working, hard talking, no nonsense kind of men. There are no bullies in his environment, no braggarts; just do your job and you'll be okay kind of men. Jack had long earned the respect of his workmates by his unswerving diligence. Tonight Jack will return to an empty house. Never married, never had a girlfriend, but Jack cannot walk the streets without women, young and old, asking after him, touching his shoulder and smiling. Jack has a great many friends. He will go to his bed wondering what his future will look like. It will feel strange not to get up at 5 A.M. on Monday, and for every day after that, for the rest of his life. Outside snow is lightly falling, covering the ground in a powdery film. He sets off a little early, conscious that walking will be trickier, as he shambles his bent and buckled frame using his stick for support, a woolen scarf wrapped a couple of times around his neck, and his favorite flat cap covering his scalp. His long, tidily groomed beard, as white as the fresh fallen snow, is reminiscent of another well-loved figure at this time of year. To an outsider he might look like a lonely figure, shuffling along in his big dockman boots, but Jack is not lonely. His route is the same one he's trod five days of every week, for every year of his working life and to which he's seen much change. It is Jack's responsibility to sound the ‘whistle' at six in the morning for the start of work, then again at ten, so the men can break for tea, another blast at one for lunch, then three thirty for another break, and five, not his favorite whistle, to signal the end of the day. Today it will signal the end of Jack's working career. Jack makes one stop on his way to work, to check his watch against the old grandfather clock standing at the back of Simpson's watchmakers. Founded exactly fifty years ago this very day. Jack remembers the shop opening. He remembers his first look at the old grandfather clock. It took four men to lift and move it into position. It was a fine piece indeed. He stood at the window and looked at it for a long spell. Since the day it took its place at the back of the shop Jack has checked his watch against it. Perfect. The old grandfather clock never failed him. It keeps perfect time. Jack is about to continue his way when a man approaches. It is Mr. Simpson junior. His father opened the shop exactly fifty years ago, but had died twenty years since. "Hello Jack." "Hello young Mr. Simpson, you're opening early this morning." "Young? I like that, Jack, I wish. Yes, I have a special delivery to make this afternoon, and I want to be sure that everything is perfect." "Must be special indeed to bring you out on a winter's morning. I was just admiring the old grandfather clock in the back of the shop. Do you know, young Simpson, lad, I've been passing this shop since the day your father opened it. You were but a lad in short trousers. The day I was promoted to whistleblower, and every week day morning since, I look in here and set my watch by it. Never been a minute late, do you know that?" "Is that so, Jack?" He laughs wildly, as though he knows something no-one else does. "You've set your watch by the old grandfather clock for fifty years and then gone into the dockyard to blow the work whistle?" Click here to read the rest of this story (26 more lines)
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