“Bad as it can probably get, but there’s nothing neither of us can do so I’m gonna need you to get back in—”
“I was supposed to pick up my wife from the airport; I just want to be sure she’s safe.” Jacob reached into the car, grabbed his cell phone, and called Theresa.
“Look I’m not supposed to give out any information but quiet as kept the only woman was African-American so I’m sure your wife is fine.” Jacob dropped the cell phone and looked up at the officer but said nothing. As the phone hit the ground, you could hear Theresa’s voice mail. Jacob quickly ran past the officer toward the wreck. “Sir, you can’t…” The police officer’s voice was quickly drowned out by the deafening pound of Jacob’s heart. The saliva in his mouth thickened, as he saw the aftermath of what appeared to be a head on collision of a semitruck and a taxi cab. The truck driver stood next to police officers sobbing as he answered questions. A gurney with a black zipped bag rolled toward a nearby ambulance. “Please no, please god no.” Jacob whispered to himself as he stepped toward the paramedics. “Is it a woman? Please tell me!” Stunned and off guard as the paramedic went to answer Jacob, Jacob quickly grabbed the zipper and pulled. Slow…everything moved slowly now as Jacob’s fear became reality. He could see hair and glass, then, her lips, his wife’s beautiful lips now lifeless and stained with blood. All he could do is grab her hugging her tightly! “This is my wife! THIS IS MY WIFE!” he screamed wildly. “Please do something, please!” His words broke down to sobs as a slew of officers grabbed him and removed him from the scene.
Jacob now again saw himself in the present, his arms tightly wrapped around his own body. He could almost feel her again just for a moment. Slowly he walked away from the shop and looked once more to the sky. At this point, he thought to himself, he would befriend the rain and embrace it. For today, it would offer him solace as it splashed against his face, concealing his tears.
Jacob returned home both mentally and emotionally exhausted. He took a towel from the bathroom wiping his face, as he sat on his bed staring at the nightstand. This time he would open the “other” drawer. The drawer he’d promised himself endlessly that he would never open again. As he reached and slowly pulled it open the sound of liquid, fighting gravity could be heard swishing about. Jacob reached down and grabbed the bottle of brandy staring at the label a short time as if reading it. Like clockwork, he knew the way his night would continue, and end if he’d decided to open it. With a short scorn Jacob tossed the bottle back in the drawer and slammed it shut. Today he would claim sanctuary and hold on to what little sanity he had left. With that, he jumped out of bed, took a quick shower, and began to prepare his favorite alternative, chamomile tea.
“If anyone can calm and soothe the soul it’s you, old friend.” Jacob smiled speaking to the teabag as if reunited with a long-time acquaintance. Dropping it to the bottom of his favorite mug, he poured the boiling water slowly savoring the already present and peaceful aroma. As he placed the kettle down, Jacob couldn’t help but notice the pale and discolored space on his left arm. It was one of the only places on his body that hadn’t met the likes of a suntan and perfectly resembled the shape of his watch. How could he miss something so small as much as he did? He felt incomplete without it. It was one of the very few objects that Jacob hadn’t managed to misplace over the years and he never knew how much he would miss it, until now. With yet another sigh, Jacob returned to his bed and decided he would do something different tonight, sort of a special treat. Instead of crunching numbers till bedtime, he’d binge watch one of his favorite shows. However, one lone episode and twenty minutes later, Jacob reneged turning in for the night altogether.
That whole night Jacob rested uneasy. He woke for the third time reaching for what was normally present at the corner of his nightstand. How remarkable, he thought to himself. That single object was the only thing he had in his home that granted him the simple luxury of time. Not a single clock inhabited Jacob’s condo and he smiled at the sheer simplicity of his dilemma.
His cellphone could have possibly served the purpose of timekeeping, if not for its age and inability to hold a charge. With a single “click,” Jacob turned on his nightstand lamp and sat up. He couldn’t sleep and at this point it didn’t matter. For his smile grew wider as his thoughts again shifted, and he remembered the day he took on the great responsibility, of continuing a legacy!
Everyone had left, and Jacob was full and relaxed. He sat alone at the dinner table as his father returned and sat down next to him.
“So, what did you think?” asked his dad.
“Remarkable” replied Jacob, “This is actually the first time you were able to throw me a surprise party and it actually was… a surprise. I must be getting old.” His father smiled. It was a characteristic almost identical to Jacob’s and what he’d missed most about his dad.
“So, are you going to let me see this thing or you gonna keep it all to yourself? I threw the graduation dinner, now you caught up the goods!” Jacob reached behind him and took his diploma out of its envelope. He looked at it, shaking his head for a short moment before handing it over to his father “Wow, a Master’s in Accounting and Finance! So, after a couple years of hard work and countless flights, this little puppy here sealed the deal.”
“Yeah Mr. Pinkerton has already given me my salary increase and the house is ready for me and Theresa to move in.” With Jacob’s last statement, his father leaned forward and spoke softly (as if others were in the room).
“How is Theresa?” he asked with a concerned expression.
“Oh, she’s very excited. Relocating will be a big change for the both of us but she is making preparations for her transfer as we speak.”
“Oh yes I’m sure she is but what of; you know, her appointment?”
“Dad, it’s ok” replied Jacob, “She’s still going to see a specialist. Actually, I happened to have found an excellent fertility center near the new house. I made her an appointment but the only days they have available will be a few months from now. Not to worry though, did some research and they are one of the best in the nation. Plus, it will give her some time to settle and finalize things with her job and the transfer.” His father nodded in agreement as he listened to Jacob.
“Well let me just say this” started Henry once more, “The next ‘achievement’ I expect you to hand over to me, better burp when I pat his back and spew on his grandpa’s shirt!” Jacob smiled looking down as if thinking about what his father said. Realizing that maybe he was putting too much pressure on Jacob, Henry decided to change the subject. “I have something for you, uh may I?” Henry asked while holding up the diploma. Jacob tilted his head slightly cocking an eyebrow wondering what his father would do next. Taking Jacob’s silence as permission, Henry began rolling the diploma into a scroll. He then placed it in his lap for a moment and asked Jacob to look away momentarily. “I’ve waited for this day for what seems like forever.” As he spoke, his father’s words were shaken as his eyes glassy. “Take care of it and it will take care of you, your grandfather used to say to me.” Jacob then quickly turned around as his father handed him back his diploma with the watch wrapped around it. He crossed his arms in the traditional manner as if presenting a student with a diploma. Jacob followed along smiling and accepting his gift. “Let this be your third graduation my son, a graduation into a long-kept tradition!”
Jacob was speechless. He closely observed the renowned device, quickly forgetting the achievement beneath that it wrapped proudly around.
“It looks a lot different from when your grandfather gave it to me. It becomes more modern with each restoration but inside it’s still the same family heirloom we all cherish so dearly. And of course, this day shall come for you and your son. I wish you didn’t have to leave Jacob, I will miss you dearly my son.”
With the echo of his father’s last words in his head, Jacob again found himself staring at his blank wrist.
He stood up from his bed and looked out the window shifting his thoughts for just a moment. He needed some time to think, time to himself. Jacob paused for a quick moment then picked up his phone and called in sick. Today he would relax, take things slowly, and not worry about the concept of time. And with that, Jacob went back to sleep.
Later that morning was odd for Jacob, foreign so to speak. Not racing about his apartment frantically in pursuit of a timely appearance at his job. He got up and turned on his television checking the time. “Wow 11 a.m. already!” he said smiling delightfully surprised. Hungry, he readied himself and walked to a small diner, which happened to be right across the street from a certain shop. He entered seating himself and stared out the diner’s cloudy window.
“Would you like to start off with some coffee sweetheart?” asked the waitress as she approached. She held a coffee pot in one hand loosely, with it tilting just moments away from spilling.
“Yes, I would” Jacob replied still staring outside. He positioned himself in his seat to better see out of the restaurant window. He could see Ernest’s shop as dreary in sunlight as when raining. How could he manage to stay in business? It’s not like people were busting down the door for his services. What was his real purpose there?
“Honey you gonna order something, or just stare out the window all morning?” asked the waitress. She’d returned with a roll of paper towels underarm; pencil and tablet in hand, chewing her gum profusely and impatiently.
“I will take this morning’s special.” Jacob replied while stirring his coffee. The waitress leaned over Jacob putting her exceptionally large breasts in his face and peered out the window. She then shrugged still unaware at what Jacob could have been so interested in outside. She smiled partially embarrassed by the other view she had inadvertently provided for Jacob as she leaned back over then walked away.
After eating less than half his food, Jacob decided to go shopping. His mindset had again changed, and he’d hoped to speed up the day killing as much time as he could until picking up his watch. Besides, he’d needed a new briefcase and folders, as his one lone folder was diminished by the elements during yesterday’s events.
Arriving at the department store Jacob stood greeted by the smell of what seemed like a thousand different perfumes and colognes. Each one wielding sword and shield battling for supremacy in what was left of the unoccupied air. How could anyone smell one from another at this point, he thought? Needless to say, numerous patrons gathered spraying the fragrances about little white cards, fanning them in the air before finally inhaling the scent and deciding. As Jacob walked toward the men’s luggage, he passed a jewelry rack and paused. Catching his eye were a pair of oval-esc earrings. “Not too flashy but a bit more on the classy,” she used to say. Jacob smiled and grabbed the earrings as they would make a perfect gift for his wife.
Sometime later, Jacob found himself in the lower level of the store at an in-house café grabbing refreshments. The three items he’d picked was enough shopping for one day and now he would relax. He looked at a small clock on the wall as is displayed an exciting 3:15 p.m.
“Sick my ass! Man, you’re the last person I would have expected to run into here. So, what’s up with playing hooky Jake?” exclaimed Stanley as he slid into a chair across from Jacob startling him.
Stanley Burgress was the closest thing Jacob had to a best friend. They met when Jacob was first hired at Pinkerton Tower. An extremely loud and boisterous man, Stanley had the reputation for throwing the wildest parties of anyone at the office. This struck most as odd for his appearance versus persona were a complete mismatch. With a receding hairline, perfect circular glasses, and a beer belly your average couch potato would be jealous of, Stanley was far from what one would perceive or expect of a “Party Animal.” Stanley waited, patiently staring at Jacob for a response.
“I uh, just needed a little time off to vent Stan, you know how that is. So, what are you doing here?” questioned Jacob.
“Not just me. Hey Ken, look who’s here!” Stanley yelled while turned around in his seat at a man across the café. Distracted by Stanley a very short Indian gentleman overfilled his Slurpy drink in a panic yelling “Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God!” repeatedly. Jacob couldn’t help but smile as he shook his head remembering that long ago it was he that used to be Stanley’s sidekick.
“So, you’re dragging Ken with you on your lunch break again I presume? What’s the event and where is it going to be?”
“That’s why you’re so much higher up at the job than I am. Some way somehow you just know everything!” said Stanley with a sarcastic grin.
“No, I believe it’s because I actually do some work around the office instead of being on the internet doing god knows what all day.” By this time Stanley had grabbed Jacob’s drink slurping it in front of Jacob like a child. “You know I don’t want that back now, right? Stan, will there ever come a point in time when you will realize that A. you’re a married man and B. you’re almost my age?” Stanley looked at Jacob killing the last of the drink then sliding it back to Jacob.
“I’m sorry Jake was there a point or moral or something I was supposed to pick up on? C’mon man you need this, Catherine is going out of town so this one’s at my place tomorrow. You never go out, you never do anything!”
“How do you know what I do?” interjected Jacob defensively.
“Look Jake, remember a long time ago when you and I first decided to go out what Theresa told you?”
“That she had no idea how we could call ourselves friends because we were complete opposites?” replied Jacob.
“No, when she… hey she actually said that about me?”
“Never mind that Stan it was a long time ago and yes I know what you’re talking about.”
“So, then you’re coming?” asked Stanley.
“Although I don’t look forward to the two-hour drive from my place to yours, I will try my best to make a cameo at least.” Stanley immediately grinned from ear to ear.
“Ok then but just to let you know damn near the whole office along with a batch of new hotties will be there. Hell, I might even invite old man Pinky himself!” Stanley stood grabbing Ken’s famed Slurpy and drinking from it as he approached the table. Ken looked at Stanley in disgust, waved at Jacob, and proceeded back to the fountain to get another drink.
“You still haven’t learned your lesson from calling him that huh?”
“Hey, I give everybody nicknames, I’m Stan, you’re Jake, and he’s Pinky the boss man. Hey even Ken is Ken.”
“Stanley, Ken is Ken because no one in this universe can pronounce his real name,” replied Jacob.
“Ok then ‘Mr. Pinkerton’! Is that better?”
Jacob now partially ignoring Stanley looked back at the clock and realized it was time to go. “Alright, I gotta run but I’ll see you guys tomorrow.” Jacob grabbed his coat and bags from the chair and ran up the escalator.
He didn’t have far to go and as he arrived at the door of the shop he paused taking a deep breath before entering. As usual, silence was abundant, except for the slight tickings of the shop’s many timepieces. Jacob rested his bags next to the counter and before he began to speak, was greeted with a familiar voice.
“Welcome back Mr. Jacob I’ll be right with you.” Ernest came from the back with a small box in hand smiling at Jacob.
“How did you know it was me?” Jacob asked.
“You see these new spectacles I’m wearing?” asked Ernest in an almost ghostly voice. “They have a special gift my son. They allow the person that wears them the ability to see through walls!” Jacob stood partially terrified at the man’s voice and waited for his next statement. “Got you for a second didn’t I?” Ernest laughed a hearty laugh that turned into a cough by its end. “This is for you. I took the liberty of removing the tattered band and adding a traditional linked band instead. I hope I didn’t go too far
. Go ahead, open it, and see for yourself.”
With his heart pounding, Jacob took the small maroon-colored box from Ernest’s grasp and opened it. He was speechless. The watch was immaculate to say the least. A sparkling marvel of pure perfection no matter which angle viewed upon.
“Thank you so much Ernest; your reputation precedes you,” said Jacob now beginning to try on the watch.
“No!” exclaimed Ernest nearly shrieking, “Not yet.”
“What did I do? What’s wrong?” Jacob said panicking and quickly removing the watch.
“It’s…the finish I applied just recently. Give it at least until tomorrow before you try it on. Last, you should also under no circumstances try on the watch until you have read the manual.”
“Manual?” questioned Jacob.
“It explains in detail the watch’s new features.” Ernest looked down at the box pointing, his hand shaking as if nervous for some reason. Jacob removed the small pearl-colored pillow that lay inside the box, revealing a booklet underneath. “Uh not here, take it home. Read it while you’re relaxed with an open mind. You know, over a nice merlot.” Jacob shook his head confused as he replaced the book, pillow, and watch back inside the box. “Oh, I almost forgot these are also for you.” Ernest then took off his spectacles, wrapping them in a silk-like cloth and then handed them to Jacob.
“I don’t understand. Is there something I should know?”
“I would guess not,” replied Ernest. “I am an eccentric fellow, but you shouldn’t let that scare you away.”
Jacob looked up from the box stunned to find Ernest gone. The only movement was the small curtain that (like an illusionist) Ernest would appear and disappear into without a moment’s notice. Jacob turned and grabbed his bags. The last thing Ernest said was exactly what Mr. Pinkerton had said to him while describing the old man. But how could that be? Had they spoken to each other recently?
Borrowed Time Page 2