As Jacob walked away from the store, he couldn’t help but feel like he had forgotten something. “Wait, he never charged me for anything.” As Jacob approached the store once more and grabbed the door, he noticed it was locked. The lights were off as well. This was impossible! He had only been gone from the store for less than a minute or two. Jacob tried peering through the filthy windows while calling Ernest’s name. To no avail, he stopped for a moment looking in his bags, and with everything accounted for decided to go home.
With a swift swing, Jacob’s apartment door flew open as he stepped in sitting his bags on the kitchen table. He again returned to his cabinet to prepare something hot to calm his nerves. Moments and a teabag later, Jacob kicked off his shoes, went back to his room, and emptied his bag’s contents onto his bed. He took a deep breath picking up the earrings first holding them to the light. “They would have looked lovely on you,” he said softly. He opened the drawer of the nightstand and placed the earrings next to her picture. Passing a gentle kiss from his lips to his fingers then finally to Theresa’s photo, Jacob closed the drawer while exhaling deeply. He placed the briefcase on the floor and opened the watch’s box, removing the booklet that lay beneath. Positioning himself to lie down and read, Jacob nearly smashed the last remaining item on his bed, the glasses given to him by Ernest. “Damn! You guys were almost goners,” he said placing them on his nightstand. With his attention back on the matter at hand, Jacob opened the booklet and began to read. A few pages and a couple of chuckles later, Jacob flipped furiously through the remainder of the booklet exclaiming, “You have to be kidding me!” It was impractical, unbelievable, and just downright ludicrous! Jacob flung the booklet over his head causing it to slide across the nightstand then fall underneath. “Nice old man but a complete nut job,” said Jacob while putting his hands behind his head. So, it was finally over, his quest complete. Tomorrow he would go about his unexciting daily routine once again. It did however, bring back an ounce of youth and excitement (if only for a moment), thought Jacob. But just what if? Jacob turned over and took the watch out of the box. He then stood and placed it on his wrist slowly. With a final “click” as he fastened it Jacob stood still, as if waiting for something. He then crept slowly to his bedroom window drawing the blinds looking outside. Shaking his head and dropping the blinds, Jacob grumbled to himself “You’re about as bad as he is Jacob.” Disgusted he’d even catered the thought of the booklet’s contents, Jacob took off his watch, set his alarm, and began preparations for tomorrow morning.
He first fondled through the rain-warped documents one by one tossing items he didn’t need and placing the remainder in his new briefcase. Next, he took a small calculator and placed it by his watch. Every morning he would put the miniature device in his pants’ pocket keeping it handy for whenever he needed to make a quick but critical calculation. Skipping dinner, he then spent the next few hours on work and finalizing various documents for the day ahead. Finally, after a quick change of clothes and gargling of mouthwash, Jacob found himself back in bed prepared this time, for a peaceful night’s rest.
The sun displayed a magnificent glow this morning. It was as if the writing of a new and exciting story had just begun. Oddly enough, Jacob found himself up five minutes before his watch could fulfill its daily duties. Running his usual script, as Jacob got out of the shower he heard a faint knocking at the front door. “Now who could this possibly be at this time of…?” Jacob’s speech was stolen as he opened the door to find Sheryl on the other side. She stood smiling, one hand twirling about a curl in her fiery red hair. In the other, she held a plate neatly wrapped in cellophane.
“I didn’t mean…to catch…you at a bad time.” Her words were broken as she gazed upon Jacob still wet with no more than a mere bath towel hindering her already visually pleasant experience. At a loss for words, Jacob continued staring at the marvel of a woman before him. Her milky pale skin bared not the slightest imperfection. Her lips, displayed the same crimson red her hair boasted without the aid of cosmetics. It was magical, as if she were permanently aroused and yearned to place her fire about the cooling lips of a man. Even her freckles did nothing less of complimenting her already defined beauty as they sparkled stunningly, like the dust of a thousand finely crushed rubies. “This is for you, and maybe later dinner and…uh…company if you like.” No matter how hard Jacob tried words still eluded him. Sheryl stepped past the nearly catatonic man and placed the plate on his kitchen table. With a final smile and wave goodbye, she left and went back into her apartment. Jacob, now finally snapping out of his daze, ran to his closet hoping his wonderfully odd experience wouldn’t cost him being late for work.
Now dressed and heading out the door Jacob turned back, grabbed the plate from the table, and put it in the refrigerator. As he jogged down the stairs, he could not see the usual slew of taxies that normally populated the busy streets. He needed to hurry, driving was out of the question, and the bus would take forever, he thought. “I wonder what time it…Shit!” exclaimed Jacob looking down at his bare wrist. As he headed back toward the stairs, his attention was diverted by the sound of screeching tires. Jacob turned around to see a car weaving in and out of traffic at great speed. He could also see a man with a black briefcase heading in the street’s opposite direction, with a pair of small white cords dangling from his ears clearly not paying attention—BOOM! By the time Jacob heard the sound, the man was in mid air, and his brief case flung to the sidewalk. The car zipped past Jacob as he ran toward the man. At least a good ten feet past the point of impact the man’s body lay lifeless. As Jacob called for help on his phone, he could see a massive pool of blood forming. He looked upon the man nervously, the sun glistening brightly revealing Jacob’s own reflection in the man’s depleting life source. Jacob leaned closer, his heart beating profoundly. At that moment, the man sprang up grabbing Jacob’s arm screaming relentlessly. Blood poured from his eyes and ears…
“Ahhhh!” screamed Jacob as he sprang upright knocking his pillow to the floor. His mouth was dry, his body was soaked, and his heart raced like a wild horse. A dream! It was all a bad dream. Jacob, still in mild shock slowly crept out of bed. He cringed grabbing his sheets as his alarm went off scaring him nearly out of his skin. Silencing his watch Jacob went to the bathroom flushing his face in cold water. He looked up above the sink basin in the mirror. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d dreamt. If he did, he had no recollection. Back in the kitchen Jacob opened his refrigerator. He sighed deeply as he closed it. There was no plate. “Oh well, at least nobody’s dead,” said Jacob miserably. He went back into his bedroom, sat down, and opened “the drawer.” He took Theresa’s picture out shaking his head and speaking softly. “I don’t know what I feel anymore Theresa. Just looking at another woman feels like cheating. Do you want me to move on? Please tell me what to do, I just can’t…don’t want to let you go. With those last words, Jacob placed the picture upright on his nightstand. He then got up slowly to begin his day.
All throughout the morning, as Jacob got ready he stayed in deep thought. He remembered once reading a book about dreams and a certain passage that caught his attention. It was said that people dreamt mainly of two things, their inner most fears and their inner most desires. “Is it time to move on?” Jacob questioned himself as he locked his door and stared at Sheryl’s. A brief smile was able to find its place on Jacob’s face as he remembered the “pleasant” part of his dream. He chuckled to himself as he stepped outside.
“Sir, can you tell me what time it is?” asked a young teenage girl passing by.
“Sure sweetheart, it’s…Damn I forgot my watch.”
“Thanks anyway,” she said while waving goodbye.
Jacob ran back up the stairs and back into the house grabbing both the watch and his handy calculator. “You’ve got to get it together Jake,” he said aloud to himself. A taxi was approaching as Jacob returned outdoors and stopped in front of him.
; “You need a ride Mac!” exclaimed the driver.
“Yeah just give me a sec,” replied Jacob.
Jacob took his watch (still in hand) and flung it on his wrist. He put down his briefcase for a moment to use his other hand snapping the band in place.
With a simple click, Jacob’s heart dropped. “They” appeared right before his eyes, over every last person as far as he could see. Numbers, numerous numbers over all their heads, all counting down like timers. It was just as the booklet said, thought Jacob now terrified. He slowly stepped away from the cab, his eyes fixated above the driver’s head. In an unearthly translucent blue, the numbers counted down from seconds to minutes, then hours (in which the driver seemed to have thousands). “You commin or not, I ain’t got all day!” exclaimed the cabbie. He too now began to look up in the air wondering what Jacob was observing. “What, you never seen a bald guy before?” the driver said while rubbing his head. “Fucking weirdo!” and with that the cab driver road off.
Jacob however was frozen. He just couldn’t believe what he was witnessing! His attention was then drawn to a shifting of colors, a small way down the street. There, he saw a different timer over a young man carrying a small briefcase. His, displayed a panicking red, with only fifteen seconds and counting! Just then Jacob heard the terrifyingly familiar sound again of tires screeching! As Jacob ran toward the man, he could now see it was him! It was happening just as he’d dreamt. The same black briefcase and those fucking headphones dangling out of his ears! Jacob ran vigorously toward the man yelling, “Hey, hey look out!” 10—The man still looking in the opposite direction wanders into the street just as before! 9, 8, 7—Jacob in his diligence stumbles into a woman knocking her coffee from her hands as he continues toward his target. 6, 5, 4, 3—Jacob reaches the man as the vehicle approaches wildly. The man finally sees the car but has no time to react! Jacob leaps…With a thump, both men hit the ground stopping traffic on the opposing side of the street. The car continues its course as if unaware of its potential victim. Amazed as scared, the man looks up at Jacob.
“Oh my god, you saved me!” he exclaims in a shaking voice. Breathing heavily Jacob stood up extending his hand to the man. By this time, countless others had exited their vehicles offering assistance. As the man stood to his feet, Jacob watched the counter reset from all zeros to the now known safe blue with plenty of new numbers to spare. Puzzled, the man looked up in the air following Jacob’s eyes. “What is it?” he asked.
“Uh nothing; are you going to be ok?” Jacob asked while releasing the latch of his watch.
“Hope so, maybe you should follow me around the rest of the day.” Jacob looked at the man and said nothing. Instead he took his fingers and pointed toward his own head tapping his ears a moment, then shaking his head in a “no” fashion. The man (ashamed) knew exactly what the jester meant as he peered down at the smartphone, which still lay on the ground with music blaring from the attached headphones.
With a swift fling of his front door, Jacob found himself back in his condo pacing the floor. He was partially in shock and completely in disbelief. He called his job taking another day off while heading toward his kitchen. Grabbing a glass from the cupboard, he slammed it on the counter looking back toward his bedroom. His heart was beating heavily and sweat streamed down the sides of his face. Looking at the glass once more, he pushed it angrily into the sink and went to his room. Freeing himself from the captivity of his shirt and tie, Jacob scanned his nightstand clumsily looking for the booklet. “C’mon I know you were just here!” His voice was desperate and angry as he plopped down on his bed holding his head. Finally, a lone drop of sweat slowly made its way to Jacob’s nose. It fell gracefully to the floor, becoming a beacon of hope as it revealed the whereabouts of his lost treasure.
The book lay underneath the nightstand on the floor just barely out of view. Jacob with a nervous and clammy hand retrieved it and started reading once again. The first seven pages described the “gift” the watch possessed. Finding what he wanted, Jacob began reading aloud softly as if to completely understand the text before him.
“He who wears the watch about the left wrist will obtain the gift of ‘sight’ and perception,” it began, “He will be able to see in entirety, the time one has left in the cycle of their existence.” So, then it was all true! Jacob turned a few pages more, this time reading a new passage. After a brief moment, he stopped reading and slowly placed the book face down on the nightstand. He went back into his pocket and placed the watch next to the booklet. For certain he was nowhere near ready or prepared for what he’d just read. He had to tell someone about this but who, who would believe him? “You weren’t raised a coward Jacob!” he exclaimed to himself nervously. With those last words Jacob turned to his closet and grabbed an old antique mirror and positioned it next to the nightstand. Not quite what he had expected as the mirror displayed his reflection from his feet but only to his neck. “Figures,” He moaned. Jacob slowly reached for the watch simultaneously eyeing the booklet as if it were alive or threatening. He positioned himself in front of the mirror viewing his shaking hands as he placed the watch on his right wrist this time. With the all familiar click, Jacob stood motionless. He slowly began to bend down in front of the mirror finally revealing his own pale reflected face. He could see it now just as all the others, frantically ticking away with no remorse. “What! This can’t be right!” yelled Jacob. “No, no.” Jacob stood up backing away from the mirror. In his anger, fear and frustration Jacob took off the watch throwing it into the mirror.
Something was wrong; it had to be all wrong. Jacob grabbed the booklet and read the pages once more this time tracing the lines with his index finger to be sure.
“Beware,” began the passage, “for if the bearer of the watch places it about his right wrist, he will not be able to see the time of others but of himself instead.” Jacob slowly placed the book on the bed and grabbed the calculator from his pocket. With the numbers still burned in the back of his mind, he started doing what he did best, calculations! As he factored in all the necessary equations, he began shaking his head. No matter how many times he did, the answer remained the same. Terrified, Jacob now realized by the numbers he’d seen that he had a little over three months before his timer would reach zero and… “No, how is this possible? I can’t die! I’m perfectly healthy and I feel fine.” Jacob said trying to reassure himself. “So, what is going to happen to me then? Why is any of this happening to me!?” Jacob stared at the shards of glass that lay on the carpeted floor. Through the puzzle-pieced reflection, he could see the watch under his bed. He frowned as he reached down and picked it up. How could this be, that the thing he prized only second to his wife he now had a confused form of hatred for? He didn’t want to “know” and how was this considered a gift? It seemed more like a curse if anything. He was angry, and he wanted answers! Jacob put the watch back in his pocket and grabbed his shirt heading out the front door. He knew who had the answers, the old the man responsible for the sudden change in his life…Ernest!
Jacob scurried down his stairs taking a different route to the back of the building. He approached a two-door garage and with a simple keypad entered his code accessing the shared space. Before the door could fully open, Jacob had ducked inside and got into his car. With tires screeching, he peeled out of the alleyway and into the intersection. As the other cars exhibited detest for Jacob’s reckless approach with horns blaring, Jacob himself could only think of one thing… time!
As he approached the watch shop from the other side of the street, he sat for a moment in disbelief. The store seemed to be condemned, but how? Jacob got out of the car running across the street to confirm his fears. Every window was boarded, and he couldn’t see the slightest sign of lighting anywhere inside. It was as if the building had been abandoned for years. Jacob hurried about the back of the store to see if he could find a way inside but instead he was only greeted with more disappointment as the pla
ce seemed impenetrable. “DAMNIT,” Jacob screamed while kicking the old structure, “Why me, huh?” Exhausted from his ordeal Jacob sat down on the back steps of the store. A million thoughts rushed through his mind all fighting for stage time. He needed to relax, calm down, and compose himself. The only real proof he had was the situation with the man he’d saved. What if it was all part of an elaborate set up? But for what and why, who would benefit from his stress and borderline insanity?
Jacob got up from the steps brushing the crushed pebbles from his pants as he went back to his car and headed home.
That whole night Jacob struggled with how to find proof if what he had witnessed was real. His other thoughts dwelled on how he would come to his demise when his time was up and if he could save himself as he had the nameless gentleman earlier. It was a long and stressful day and finally just before sunrise, sleep returned Jacob’s way.
When Jacob finally awoke, it was plenty past 10 a.m. and far past his job’s allotted call-in time. He could hear the faint sound of his cell phone vibrating somewhere not too far in the distance. It was reminding him he had messages and they were probably all from Mr. Pinkerton himself asking for his resignation. Jacob grabbed his pants taking the phone out to check his voicemail. It was Pinkerton alright but asking if he was ok and telling him not to worry about the no-call for he’d called HR for him correcting the minor infraction. “Minor?” Jacob said lightly to himself. “That man is indeed a true friend.” A small smile wondered aimlessly stumbling upon Jacob’s face reminding him he was at least, still human.
“That’s it, Dr. Kendal!” Pinkerton’s message had given Jacob an idea, if his health were to fail for any reason Dr. Kendal, his medical practitioner would know how and most importantly why. With that Jacob hit the shower and soon found himself at the doctor’s office. Waiting nervously, he sat with three other patients, two men and a woman. The woman (directly next to Jacob) sat waiting while furnishing Jacob with a brief “hi” and warm smile before picking up the next magazine from the office table and continuing to read.
Borrowed Time Page 3