The Clock Builder, part 2

Hello, Everyone!

Let’s start this off with a bad joke.

What has two thumbs, hasn’t posted since February, and completely missed the 1 year anniversary of his blog way back in May?

This guy right here.

So why is it that I’ve been “in hiding” for so many months? One simple answer: Life happens every day. I won’t go into details, instead we’ll just jump right into the long awaited second part of The Clock Builder.

For those that want to catch up, or just get a refresher on what the hell I’m talking about, you can read the first part of The Clock Builder HERE. Go ahead and click over, I’ll wait here. 🙂

All caught up? Great! Enjoy the next installment, folks!

*NOTE: For the Italian dialogue within this segment I used Google Translate since I don’t actually speak Italian. For those that do, I hope the translations are accurate. For non-Italian speakers (like myself) I included the English dialogue as well.

*     *     *     *     *

William was just replacing the back plate on a watch commissioned for a customers’ son for his graduation from the academy when the door opened. He looked up at set the pocket clock on his workbench. He was met with a warm smile from the postmaster.

“Buon giorno Sig. Trivoli! Si è molto importante l’uomo d’oggi; ho più pacchi.” (Good day Mr. Trivoli! You are a very important man today; I have several parcels for you.)

“Ciao Matteo, bella da vedere.” (Hello Matteo, good to see you.)

William stood and met him near the door where Matteo was unloading a few small packages, nine in total. William checked the labels as he looked over them. England, Greece, India; even one from the Americas!

“Vedi? Te l’ho detto, davvero molto importante. Sono stati inviati da tutte le parti! “ (See? I told you, very important indeed. They have been sent in from everywhere!)

William nodded in agreement and opened the first one. Inside he found a pocket clock stopped at 12:00, his father’s mark was etched on the back plate. The second package was the same. William began to rip the brown paper wrapping from each of them, and each revealed the same problem; a clock stopped at 12:00 and all made by his father. He scanned through the notes enclosed with each watch, owners asking if he could fix them as they just stopped working.

“Un sacco di riparazioni per il mio amico,” he laughed, “Ti lascio arriva a lavorare, William.” (A lot of repairs for you my friend. I’ll let you get to work, William.)

“Sì. Fate attenzione, Matteo.” (Yes. Take care, Matteo.)

William carried the load to his workbench, pushing the commissioned watch to the side. He opened each watch and found them all to be in perfect working order, with the one problem being that not one of them was working.  He set the new arrivals with the two other watches made by his father. As he was cleaning up the package wrapping he found a single, small envelope. William dropped the handful of brown packing paper as he read the return line: Captain Oscar F. Wellington, Leopoldville, Belgium Congo.

The post mark read 19th December 1908, the end of the previous year. He slid the letter opener through the glued flap and opened it.

To whom it may concern,

This correspondence is to inform you that, Samuel Connor Trivoli and son, Arthur Andrew Trivoli, have disappeared and we have no trace of them as yet. The conflict between tribes in the Congo Region, have lead us to presume them deceased. We have discovered and have in our possession personal effects that identified them. They may be collected in person should you so wish. We are sorry for your loss.

Sincerely,

Captain Oscar F. Wellington

William set the letter down and looked over the returned pocket watches. The frozen face of each felt like a spear through the side. Each halted time of 12 o’clock, a thorn pricking his head. William didn’t want to believe that his only family was dead, they couldn’t be. They just couldn’t.

He screamed out, sweeping his arms across the workbench sending the clocks through the air. They clunked and pinged against the walls and floor, the sound of cracking glass finishing off each clattering timepiece. He looked at the letter resting on the floor again and in that moment his mind was set. He hurried up stairs to his room and pulled the old hard shell suitcase from under the bed where it had been collecting dust for years. He did his best to remain calm and organized, but the clothes he pulled out and tossed into the case lost their perfect folds and became a jumbled pile. William spent only the briefest of moments looking at the rumpled mess of clothing before shutting the case and latching it.

He returned downstairs and dropped the heavy luggage near the front door and rushed into the small kitchen and pantry area in the back of the house. He grabbed two bottles of his favorite brandy and the remainder of his box of cigars. A quick scan through the larder and he snatched up a burlap sack of potatoes, dumping its contents on the pantry floor. He quickly wrapped the brandy bottles in cloth and tucked them with the cigars into the sack. He looked around, sure that he was forgetting something; he couldn’t focus with the chaos that had just upturned his life. He was adamant in the belief that his father and brother couldn’t possibly be dead. They had to just be missing. Maybe they only fled from bandits, or perhaps hungry lions. They had to leave their things behind, surely they must be fine.

William shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts and restore some touch of balance to his normally measured mind. He shut his eyes and took a few deep breaths and when he opened them he was struck with a single thought. He would need money. He made his way back into the workroom and set the burlap sack with his suitcase before kneeling in front of his workbench. He pried up the loose floorboard and removed the old cigar box hidden beneath it. He dug through the few photos of his late mother and took the secreted stack of British Pound Sterling from within. He flipped through it, amazed at how much the stack had grown by putting a few pounds away each month for the past few years. William only hoped it would be enough to reach the Congo.

Somewhere in the back of mind, a though he didn’t realize he was having darted frantically like a moth in the dark searching for a flicker of light. This is crazy, you can’t go to Africa. There are lions and tribes at war and savages! What are you doing? You can’t go to Africa.

All these thoughts never registered in his mild panic state as he stepped through his door and locked it. With suitcase and sack in hand he waved down a passing mule cart and gave the older man five pounds.

“Per favore, signore, mi puoi prendere al porto?” (Please, Sir, can you take me to the docks?)

“Sì, sì. Ma questo è troppo denaro! Sto andando già vicino alle banchine.” (Yes, yes. But this is too much money! I am going near the docks already.)

“Si può avere, farmi il più grande favore che potevo sperare per oggi,” said William. (Keep it, you do me the greatest favor I could hope for today.)

William tossed his bags into the back and sat on the edge of the cart as the old man pulled the mule along. He dug into his pocket and read the smartly creased letter one more time.

*     *     *     *     *

I hope you’re having fun so far! Tune in next week for the third installment of The Clock Builder. And check in on Friday for my slice of Flash Fiction (hosted by Chuck Wendig over at Terribleminds.com).

Have a great day, folks! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

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