This story is read aloud at: https://youtu.be/smqaqTE2zmA

Synopsis: A gifted clock toggles the bond of an unhappy couple.

Historical reference

Margie was desperate to have both of her clocks chime at the same time. And they should be in synch with the courthouse clock as well, she thought. It wasn’t so much to ask her husband, Floyd, to faithfully wind the clocks at the exact same time every week so the resulting chiming would be uninterrupted. But he didn’t see the importance of it.

He thought she was unreasonable and had an unhealthy zeal towards keeping perfect time.

Of course, he would always be prompt at receiving his meals and going to bed, though. She had him trained.

One day she found on her doorstep a box of straw. Buried in the straw were a note and a clock. Margie’s first thought was, Would it keep good time with her current clocks? She did not even look at the note until her husband came home from work. She assumed that her good husband had given her the timepiece—he knew of her passion for perfect time.

At her husband’s prompt arrival at six o’clock, she thanked him for the gift. But since he knew nothing of the present, he investigated the box and the note. The note said, Meet me at the courthouse at seven o’clock, and I will tell you about the magic of this valuable clock. Whatever you do, don’t wind it until we talk!

Now, Margie and Floyd had simple habits each weekday evening. Supper was precisely at six o’clock. At seven, Floyd would smoke his pipe and read, while Margie crocheted. At eight, they would take their dog for a walk until nine. Then it would be time for bed.

Saturday nights afforded a bath in the kitchen instead of the walk.

So the implication that one or both of them should walk to the courthouse by seven, put a rush on their supper and a damper on their ordinary routine.

“But we must go to the courthouse to find out about this device! What if it is vexed? We could return it,” said Floyd.

“Certainly it is mysterious, but I don’t want to upset our ordinary routine,” she answered.

“Oh, you and your traditions! We live such uniform lives that I can practically predict when I will sneeze and when you will fart,” he countered. “If we hurry we can take the clock with us in a wheelbarrow and walk our dog at the same time.”

“I guess this will be acceptable for this one time. We don’t want to depend on careless alternatives to our pattern of living. Nothing is more important than continuity,” she replied.

And so it was. Their dog was surprised that he was being walked early. He knew when the clocks chimed eight that he should grab his collar and leash. Walking at 6:30 p.m. was unheard of in the Fritch residence.

At the specified time and place, the couple arrived to see a strange-looking man in a yellow slicker. There was no rain, so the slicker seemed out of place. Also, there was a bulge under the yellow coat that worried Margie, so she addressed the man with a voice of authority.

“Sir, you will not have a gun under your slicker. Drop it, or we will dump this clock out of the wheelbarrow immediately,” she ordered.

He quietly removed what was bulging from the slicker to show them an extremely large key. ”I have no gun on me. I’m unarmed except for the message that will change your lives forever.”

The couple lost their innate fear of the stranger when he continued to talk. “I possess this key to that magical clock you found on your doorstep today. The key inserts into the back and can be turned to the right to unlock ‘prompt traditions’ in your life.”

Margie stated, “Sir, I think that clock is something I could use. There is nothing as comforting as repetitive tendencies in my life.”

Floyd didn’t see the magic as something he would embrace. You see, Floyd was quite bored with the uniformity of his life. He’d thought of visiting saloons as a means of diversion in his practically scripted life.

“I don’t want this clock and its magic. Take it back and leave my wife and me alone,” Floyd said.

The man was compelled to list one concern of the perfect-timing clock. “If you choose to use this key, you will certainly have a set routine in life. But on the contrary, somewhere, one person on earth will be forever tardy to affairs,” ended the man.

“Who would it be?” asked Margie, genuinely concerned.

“It could be someone you know or a perfect stranger from somewhere else in these thirty-eight states of America.” With that, he threw the key into the wheelbarrow and left.

Floyd wanted to dump the items and go to a saloon for a drink.

But Margie pushed the wheelbarrow herself and chatted, “It is a perfectly good clock that will look great above the mantle in our bedroom. We don’t have to use the key to wake the magic. Let’s just take it home.”

So they did. She would use the key eventually, she thought.

Over time, she became antsy about the key and its magic.

There were plenty of stragglers in life already.

What would one more matter?

But for days they argued about the clock.

Finally one day she inserted the key as the man had said. Half an hour later at 6 p.m. her three clocks rang exactly as the courthouse clock chimed. She was elated.

Then Floyd did not come home for supper at six as he had for years.

He was VERY tardy.

She found his I’m-leaving-you note by the dog’s leash.

She decided she would miss his tardiness from her life.

Yes, she would miss him but was still delighted with her perfectly timed clocks.

Floyd left her boring lifestyle.

She lived in that same house, listening to her three clocks chime perfectly in unison with the courthouse clock, for forty-three years.

When the courthouse clock was stolen in 1929, she died and was forever known as that strange  ‘time crazy’ woman.


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