“There it is!” Pinkerton exclaimed, his attention now on Jacob’s watch. “Haven’t seen you wearing it lately, why?”
“Huh…oh I, uh gained a little weight so it fits a bit tightly now. Probably need to get it adjusted, that’s all,” Jacob replied nervously.
“I doubt that, hand it here and I will show you a little trick I learned.”
For a moment, Jacob hesitated just staring at Mr. Pinkerton. He hadn’t let anyone touch the watch since Ernest and what was Pinkerton going to do!? Harold then reached and took the watch from Jacob’s hand and sat behind the desk.
“Do you have an ink pen around here anywhere?” Pinkerton inquired.
“Second drawer sir,” he replied.
“Thanks, that old watchmaker taught me this trick. It’s simple really you just apply a little pressure to the latching pin bending it a little and…voila! Mind if I?” Pinkerton asked, about to place the watch about his wrist.
“Yes, kind of,” said Jacob trying not to arouse suspicion.
“Ah sentimental value, I understand completely. Well then here you are; go ahead and try it now.”
Jacob slowly took the watch and placed it about his wrist closing the latch…NOTHING! No numbers! Nothing happened at all! Jacobs’s eyes widened brightly as he yelped, “What did you do?”
“I knew you would like it,” smiled Pinkerton (completely misunderstanding).
“Can you make it go back?”
“No need, if you lose a few, just push down on that latch a bit harder till it clicks.” Jacob then pushed further upon the watch latch and with the infamous click…the power of the timepiece had returned.
“Extraordinary sir, this will help me more than you know,” Jacob announced gracefully. For now, there was no need for him to carry it in his pocket any longer. He could wear it as normal; securely, and with a little effort, snap it completely into place activating it.
“No big deal my dear boy. My weight fluctuates so much I adjust all my watches in this manner.” Jacob smiled forgiving Pinkerton’s ignorance of the real solution he’d provided for him. Now he could easily activate the watch’s power at will. “Well then, I’m going to finish up some paperwork before I take everyone downtown for lunch in a few hours. You would make this old man very happy if you accompanied us.”
“I’ll be there sir.” Jacob replied.
“Yeah and about that, call me Harold from now on. You’ve earned it…besides, it makes me feel old the whole sir thing. See you in a bit Jacob.” With that he departed leaving the new CEO to be with his thoughts. Jacob (grinning roguishly) fiddled with the timepiece for quite some time before starting a little work of his own.
As the day turned to afternoon, Jacob found himself downtown for a 1 o’clock lunch. It would seem most of his cohorts made it as well as they shared plenty of stories from the company’s mishaps to the follies of the old man himself. For what seemed to be moments, literally turned into hours as the crew ate, drank, and laughed themselves into a small hysteria. Stanley of course proved to be the best at story telling (as usual).
“Remember when Pricilla flooded the women’s washroom and tried to cover it up?” he began. “Man, you would swear…” Just then Stanley was interrupted by a faint beeping sound. Jacobs’s heart sank as he looked down at his watch. It was his alarm screaming relentlessly, a reminder of what Jacob had irresponsibly forgotten.
“Shit! Borelli!” Jacob exclaimed nearly leaping from the table. “Thanks guys…I have sort of an emergency to tend to,” he said ripping the cloth napkin from his shirt and jogging toward the exit.
“Hey Jake, you forgot your suit jacket!” yelled Stanley.
Outside Jacob sprinted to his car quickly peeling off toward the expressway. “Shit, shit, shit!” he ranted. “If he dies I could never forgive myself.” In moments, Jacob had made it to the expressway ramp flooring the gas pedal as he merged into traffic. Extremely light traffic! “Come on baby,” he demanded while switching gears. The machine purred in agreement as Jacob hit breakneck speeds quickly exceeding 100 mph and more. As if trained, Jacob flipped the gears smoothly, weaving around what little traffic that populated the roadway until reaching his exit. “Good no cops,” he said sighing in relief.
Finally, he was able to cruise at a “legal” speed as he turned onto his street in search of Borelli’s squad car. There it was…but where was he? Jacob parked in the only space available as he peered across the street into the police cruiser. Borelli was nowhere to be found. “I wonder,” Jacob whispered as he forcefully snapped the watch further into place. And again, there they were…the numeric madness proudly displaying a digital death for all still amongst the breathing. “Red numbers, red numbers,” Jacob repeated trying to focus. There they were! Two structures down from where Jacob stood, in Frank’s Deli officer Borelli stood grabbing his usual meal. “I should have known,” Jacob said softly to himself. What he didn’t understand is what would happen to the officer who now had but a few minutes left. Just then Jacob noticed Borelli’s behavior changing. He shook his head in a “no” fashion to the deli owner while speaking into his radio. “That’s it, he’s responding to a call!” said Jacob now trying to make his way across the street before the officer. Giving up on the traffic light for assistance, Jacob darted out into the street with his hands out hoping to make his way across. He had nearly made it when—boom! The distinct sound of metal hitting flesh echoed the city street as Jacob was thrown in the air momentarily before meeting the ground. The car that struck Jacob was pulling from a nearby parking space, the driver paying attention to the traffic behind him instead of what was ahead. Jacob got to his knees trying to escape dizziness. As he looked behind himself, he could see Officer Borelli exiting Frank’s still in dialect with the black box resting upon his shoulder. In desperation, Jacob sprang to his feet with all his might fleeing toward his apartment to only trip up the stairs before entering.
“Unit 702 respond.” ordered the voice from Borelli’s radio.
“This is unit 702 I’ve already receive a previous call, I’ll be 76 to the disturbance in a moment,” Borelli replied.
“10-4 officer, just a reminder all suspects are considered armed and dangerous. I repeat, all suspects are considered armed and dangerous please proceed with caution.”
“I copy dispatch,” Borelli replied waving his hand at the radio afterward.
As Jacob slid into his apartment (still off balance) and headed swiftly to the kitchen yanking open various drawers before finally grabbing a steak knife. “I hope I’m right about this,” he said returning outside. He could see Borelli now preoccupied with the driver that hit him. Borelli furnished the pedestrian with various nods as he took down information on a small notepad. Now was his chance! Jacob ducked creeping down the stairs then darting left toward the squad car. He had just about made it when his right leg gave way sending him once again to the ground as he slid and hit the squad car shoulder first. Ignoring his injuries, Jacob stabbed at both the front and rear passenger side tires repeatedly. The weight of the car shifted downward with the expulsion of air bringing the rear window lower and removing Jacob’s cover. He then laid his back flat against the rear door placing the knife in his pocket. Slowly (and painfully), the battered man turned his head while sliding upward to see Borelli who now himself was trying to cross the busy street. A slow sigh of relief escaped Jacob as he could see Borelli’s numbers had reset and were replenished plentifully. Only one thing remained an issue…how the hell was he going to make it back to his home without being seen? In a similar fashion as Jacob before him, Borelli tried crossing the street with his hands out beckoning vehicles to stop. He was in luck; the long and loathed traffic light began to change giving the round man a chance to jog across. That was until one impatient driver decided to race through the amber light coming to a screeching halt nearly hitting the officer. Borelli was infuriated. “Watch out you moron, its peo
ple like you that give my department a reason to have me friggin stranded out here every day! This is a waste of my talent. I shouldn’t have to baby sit these idiots,” he said finally making his way to the squad car.
“What in the hell!” he shouted, as he walked to the passenger side of the car bending down inspecting the tires.
“Unit 702 to dispatch,” he moaned into his radio.
“Go ahead for dispatch.”
“Yeah, I’m gonna have to 10-22 that 27-8 call, my squad is sittin on two flat tires both on the passenger’s side.”
“That’s a 10-4, 702 you have permission to disregard. Give us your 20 and we’ll send a tow.”
Disgusted, the officer ran his fingers across the numerous puncture marks on both tires. He then took off his hat and ran his stubby fingers through his hair but a moment before exclaiming, “Goddamn skateboarders!”
Lucky to have seized the moment to escape, Jacob now laid on his living room floor breathing heavily. Remnants of gravel were embedded underneath his fingernails (two which were now bleeding). His right leg was still hurting and the left side of both of his suit shirt and dress pants were torn. He was filthy yet victorious as he unsnapped his watch mumbling, “Good job Jacob…good job!”
The word of the day would be sore, as Jacob struggled to his feet only to fall several times before deciding to lay still. “Jesus Christ, I feel like I was hit by a train,” he said, trying once more. With success, he grabbed his cell phone and called a cab. Something wasn’t right with him and he wanted to make sure it didn’t get worse. So Jacob got ready as he regained his composure and wormed into a cab heading for Dr. Kendal’s office. Hopefully, this would have nothing to do with the unexplained decrease in time he’d had remaining.
The nurse recognized Jacob upon entry as she quickly grabbed a wheelchair, seated him and began with his vitals.
“My lord Mr. Parnell what happened to you?” Jacob just looked at her for a while, he hadn’t really thought about what he would tell anyone as to how his condition came to be.
“My head hurts when I talk, can I just see Dr. Kendal please?” he said while hoping to save face. The young nurse nodded as she took the thermometer from his mouth discarding the plastic covering. Soon Jacob found himself ironically once again in the same examining room as when he’d last visited.
“Jacob I told you, you were completely—what, what the hell happened to you?” Dr. Kendal screeched (his demeanor quickly adjusted). “I thought you were back here on that whole ‘I think something is killing me business’ and I find you in here like this? Start from the beginning and tell me exactly what happened.” Kendal’s voice had now turned pleading and worried.
“I was hit by a car crossing the street yesterday, but the driver wasn’t really moving fast, so I figured I was ok.”
“You figured you say…yesterday? Jacob, you should have gone to the hospital as soon as this happened. Instead, you pop in my office and a day later on top of that. For a man of your intellect I wonder about your common-sense factor sometimes. I’ll send someone to get you cleaned up and order up a few X-rays. But if this looks bad I’m having you transferred to the hospital.” Jacob nodded, his eyes glossed over and head hanging low like a young child being scolded.
The rest of the day until the early evening hours Jacob would take several X-rays and await the results. He had grown quite tired and longed for a shower to release himself of the pungent smell of iodine and bandages.
“Hello Mr. Parnell,” started the night shift nurse. “You are going to be fine and should be able to return to your normal activities tomorrow. A light sprang to your right leg is all we could find. No fractures or breakage of any kind was present, so your pain is probably just bruised tissue and severe muscle strain. Just take it easy when you get back to work and exercise a little to prevent stiffness. But don’t overdo it ok?” she said handing him a small clipboard with his discharge papers for signing.
“Is Dr. Kendal still here?” Jacob inquired.
“No actually he is out on an evening house call, but I will be sure he touches base with you as soon as he is available. Is there anything else I can get you?”
“No, thank you.”
“Alright then you have a pleasant rest of the evening Mr. Parnell and be careful.” As the nurse left and the door slammed shut, Jacob again found himself amidst disappointment. Two things were now bothering him immensely. One, he still couldn’t not figure out for the life of him (literally) but the other however…was just a click away.
So with his thoughts in their usual scattered formation Jacob drifted home slowly. He was tired and still very achy when he arrived, hoping that to be a good excuse to abandon his research and theories of his missing time. He took a deep breath while staring into his washroom mirror, his eyes glassy, his body fatigued. And then there it was, that simple “clicking” sound that Jacob had now grown to loath and in his case, even fear. With the watch securely fastened upon his right wrist Jacob looked up into the mirror confirming his horror. Yet again his time was even shorter than before, two days and a few hours to be exact! He rubbed his eyes in disbelief, hoping he’d overlooked something, but the numbers were exact. This was yet another occurrence where his time had just seemingly disappeared.
“Why is this happening? What do you want from me?” he yelled his eyes now fixed about the bathroom ceiling. “You want to know how I feel about this whole situation—huh? You really wanna know…I’ll show you!” With that Jacob began yanking the watch from his wrist, dropping it into the sink. He stopped but a moment as sanity tried to plead with him, but it was too late. His manic state had persevered as he turned on the faucet leaving the device stranded at the bottom of the small body of water. Now what was he to do? The feeling of redemption he’d wish to claim was nowhere to be found. Just then he noticed something. Very small bubbles began to form on the back of the timepiece revealing a flaw or imperfection in the metal chassis. Jacob took the watch from its watery abyss while rubbing the area with is thumb. It was rough and gritty to the touch as if scratched or damaged. Even stranger, after being submerged for quite some time, the device continued to operate normally proving quite impervious to the element. Jacob squinted with his eyes beginning to water while trying to focus on the so-called troubled area. Almost impossible to see with the naked eye at first, Jacob discovered what appeared to be markings of some sort. “What…what is this?” he whispered. Then his eyes widened, he had an epiphany!
He quickly scrambled to his bedroom tossing various articles aside until he found what he was seeking. With Ernest’s words echoing in the back of this mind Jacob again put on the spectacles given to him by the watchmaker, which previously proved useless…until now! Finally answers, discovery, it was all revealed as Jacob could now see the minuscule symbols were actually words! It was an engraving, a message of some sort. Beginning to whisper softly to himself while concentrating, Jacob tried to read and slowly decipher the script engraved in the back of the device.
“Beware he who bears the timepiece and obtains the gift of ‘sight’. For interfering with the expiration cycle of another will carry strict penalty, ensuring ‘balance’ is maintained. In that, the time of interference to reset is recorded and so ‘Borrowed’, from the bearer himself!”
Jacob removed the glasses slowly repeating the phrase in hopes to comprehend what the warning meant. “That explains it!” he yelped. Now he understood. From the moment he became involved with altering the expiration cycle of another person, if successful that time was taken from his own. That clearly explained the sudden change and missing time of his cycle. A few minutes from the man in the street, two weeks from Rebecca and finally the few days since he’d decided to help Borelli. It was all deducted from what little time he’d had remaining to begin with!
Jacob was numb. He didn’t know what to think. Why was this happening this way? All he wanted to do was the right thing…giv
e the people a second chance at life. Something he forever wished he could have done for his beloved Theresa more than anything. Still worse was the realization that in just a couple of weeks’ time he too would face death but with no one to rescue him. No one would even know what was going to happen and even if they did…what could they do? Jacob sat the watch on his nightstand. Just a short time ago everything in his life was neutral. He went about his normal routine and while boring (in comparison to now) it proved safe at least. He began to wonder if it would have just been better, not knowing at all. The three months would have come and gone with the unknown taking his life. It seemed much worse knowing when he was going to die. Anticipating and helpless, as to where or how it would come to be.
With an unsteady hand, Jacob opened the nightstand drawer grasping once more the photographic memory that was his late wife. “You see this? This is what becomes of you when you try to help others.” Jacob’s voice was hoarse and nearly depleted. He had nothing left. He was tired, defeated. “I just hope that when the time comes, and I’m gone…I will be able to see and hold you again.” And with that Jacob held the picture frame close to his chest, turned off the lights and drifted off.
It was a little past 7 a.m. when Jacob awoke, sheets sprawled about the bed and pillows on the floor revealing a very restless night. His body seemed to be the only thing recuperating while his mind was still a blurred mess. “Don’t let this defeat you Jacob,” he whispered to himself sitting up. “You still have a job to do and someone that believed in you enough to hand over his life’s work to you. Don’t disappoint him.” His personal pep talk would prove successful as Jacob then got up and readied himself for a day at the office.
With his watch about his wrist and demeanor purely professional, Jacob later arrived at Pinkerton Industries fully embracing the plethora of “good mornings” sent his way. He was beginning to feel whole again...that was until he saw Stanley.
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