So this is how my story began. My name was Alexander Carr; I lived in this humble place of God, at its charity. From the age of two, this plastered wall sheltered me. I had never been anywhere, but Mother said I had my whole life in front of me to experience things. In truth, I guess my story began some weeks ago, when that strange man first appeared and changed my life forever.
The dark clouds rolled as the droplets of water fell upon the earth. The clock creaked four dongs before it failed completely, and that meant another day of repair for me. Within these walls, everyone had jobs. “It is important to be always doing something, Al,” as Mother would always say. I don’t know whether I liked repairing the clock or not. One side of me always said that fixing it is pointless because it breaks down so often, but somehow, I still do it. Maybe it’s because the thing was so old; it’s flawlessness except for the erosions from the test of time, and it’s always vibrating with such harmonic sounds. According to Mother, the clock had been there longer than she had, and she was not that young of an age.
So, up I go, onto the ladder as I climbed through to the top of the spiraling tower. Luckily today, it’s only the clock’s spring. After I cleaned the spring and oiled it so it hopefully would not break down within this week, I noticed a patron staring at me with curious eyes, curious eyes that seemed to not only scrutinized, but also judged. Patron was a word Mother always tell us to use when we see gentlemen of a worthy stature, it’s suppose to be something that makes them sound good. She said that if we could impress the patrons, they might give us a few coins here and there. And they have, for the most part. Although I was one of the older residents here and have familiarized myself with most of the profitable guests, I had never seen this particular face before. His top hat, flannelled suit, tie and shoe were all in a sparkling ebon shade. His pose erect, showing a stature of both great importance and of great wealth, was something I always liked. It meant that I might get some candy apple or sweets if I co get him to sympathize me.
“Hello there, what is your name?” He apparently noticed my sudden notice of him.
“My name is Alexander Carr, I am seventeen years old and I am a resident of this holy house, sir.” Prompt and precise answering is the key to success.
“Good name, I was wondering, do you know what time it is? It seems my watch has broken down and the one that you’re fixing is also down.”
“Sir, its five thirty two in the evening.” Prompt and precise.
“Why lad, to my curiosity, how do you know?”
“I have a watch, sir.” Prompt.
“Was it a birthday present? Well, you see, I need a reliable watch, but they keep on breaking down! It is so hard to find a good watch smith nowadays. I was wondering if I can pay a pretty penny for yours?”
For a second, I was excited. Here is my chance to reel it in! But looking at my wooden watch made from leftover metal scraps, it wasn’t going to happen.
“What do you say? I will pay well.”
“Sir, the watch is of poor condition, I cannot lie to you as it is a homemade trinket. I cannot match the gold and silver that your watch possess.” I confessed, seeing that lying would bring doom to me if he went and spoke with Mother if I indeed did swindle him.
“Is it possible for me to meet this person who made it?”
“It is me, sir, but I cannot guarantee your satisfaction.”
“Nonsense, a smith at your age must be a genius and nothing less!”
I was flattered. No one said anything about me being good at anything, probably because I did it so much anyway. “But sir, I am not trying to be humble, I am…” as I looked up, He’s out of sight. Oh well, it was worth a try at least. And “gentlemen and patrons alike are never wrong.”
I hurried and finished the repair and swiftly descended back down, I didn’t want to miss the supper at six. As I was going down the stair, I thought about all the things I need to do before dinner: wash hands, bring in some water, set up the plate… The clocked donged six times, which signaled my confirmation that I didn’t want dinner tonight. For Mother, it was important to be punctual, if you were late for something, you had better just forget it if it’s something good and do double the work to make up for it if it’s bad. Yet, as I walked past the dining tables, I noticed that no one was there. There was something out of the ordinary, something peculiar, something, enigmatic.
A quick and effortless search had brought me to the living room, where Mother, as well as my twenty some other cousins, crowded over something shimmering with a candescent light. As I slid the young ones out of my way, I found the most amazing thing in my life. There it was, standing there, more magnificent than anything I have and ever will see, was the perfect machinery, or, at least perfect to me, in full gold and silver. It was a full sized grandfather clock, with craftsmanship no less sturdy that those from Paul Revere. Glimmering its saintly light, it was a work of legends.
As I stood there, bewildered by its magnificence for what seemed a whole day, the quite and polite chatters between Mother and someone behind the clock continued as I quietly overheard.
“…It is such a wonderful thing you have, but I am afraid I cannot allow that young one to toy with it, for you see, he never had such experience before.” Mother said defendingly.
“Of course I will not just let him have a run at it before I properly test him, of course not, I merely ask for your permission.” It was, at a closer examination, the gentleman that I thought disappeared.
“Very well, if you insist.” Mother paused, then, without a single word, bid me to come forth. Nothing escapes her eyes, ever.
As I walked forward, I could hear the excitements from the crowd of cousins. Some spoke slightly louder than they should and was quickly hushed by Mother by a glare that can be seen a mile away, speaking its intent without speaking a word.
“Well, here’s that broken watch of mine, if you can fix it before your watch dings eight, then I will take all of you to a dinner at my place, and, of course, you get to fix That.”
I beamed, for the first time, or, for as long as I could remember. It was not just an offer of generosity; it was a challenge of a lifetime. Bringing the whole family a whole, complete meal with meat and fruits and fish, and… was what I always wanted to do. It was a chance to prove my worth, it was… as I dreamed on, I remembered that I am wasting time!
After picking up my homemade tools, which slightly disgusted the patron because they were, I admit, rather crude, I carefully screwed the screws off with the screwdriver. No screwing up now. As I wiped my little work table, a makeshift of a real workbench, clean of all my little experiments that I was doing, I placed the back of the watch on the side. There it was, the inside of the gold and silver watch. It was gold, silver, and, at a closer examination, unfixable. At that moment, my heart shrunk to the size of a pea. He was teasing me, I thought, over and over again. There it was, the problem, a simple spring misplaced and a simple gear moved, probably from a slight mishandling, but both of the problem are impossible to fix, no matter how many times I think about it. If I tried to reset the position of the spring and gear, the clock would be altered slightly so that it would not produce exactly sixty seconds in a minute, it would produce slightly more or less. I could do that, and return it claiming that it is fixed because he would not notice the difference for at least a few days and get his dinner, or I could just tell him I can’t do it and disappoint everyone, perhaps for the rest of my life…
I thought of Mother, and all of her witty sayings. After some searching, one came to me. “True character is revealed in the face of adversity.” Unfortunately, it does not tell me yes or no. Actually, it made the problem worse, now I can’t even consult Mother because it would not be my true character. As I juggled the pros and cons of each decision, I came to a realization. Honesty is a thousand times more glorious than glory. But, is it more important than family? Again, I am back at square one. As I repeatedly get knocked back to square one, The clock overhead made seven heavy dongs and a slightly less lengthy poing sound; it was seven thirty. It is no use. No matter how hard I tried, I could not bring myself to lying or confessing, so there was only one thing to be done.
The gentleman walked out with a saddened face, it was not reprimand, but rather disheartened, likely from my lack of abilities. I also gave him my watch, that little bugger’s been with me since seven, but now that it’s gone, it wouldn’t matter any more. It was a price to pay to fail, after all, that was the best thing to do. If I live in His house, then I must obey His rule. Mother spoke with him, apologized sincerely for wasting his time, and fitted the young ones with a dinner at eight. I got to eat too, which was to my surprise. Normally I would get at least a day without anything more than bread if I did something that threw her off her schedule, but I guess it’s her way of saying that she expected it, and therefore it was not as bad…
It’s no use, I am a failure, I’d been, and I always will be. Lying on the bed made me depressed. Seeing all the little ones’ faces, their eyes focused on me, waiting for me to say the right word, then, as quickly as the excitement of me entering the room, it dissipated into sighs and awws. I loved Mother, she is always so caring, so nice, and so understanding. Perhaps I was not suppose to go anywhere. Then an idea sparked. I know, I will be the next person in line to run this place, and make sure that it’s open to all that is in need, just like Mother. Unable to stay in my room, I took a prohibited stroll to my mentor watchmaker, Richy Smith. On the way there, I tried to think of all the happy moments, when we called him dick over and over again because it sounded funny, and when he first taught me how to make my watch. Then I thought of that gentleman again, I began to feel a little bit better because I recommended him to Richy, who can fix anything, even if it’s not a watch.
But the RS Watch Watcher is closed, with a sign that reads: “Store for sale.”
I was about to kill myself. But I had no courage…
Everything is now taken from me, my family, my job, my secret hideout… everything. But, it wouldn’t matter now, I am just a coward, living in the house of Him and doing nothing except taking His wealth.
Yet here I am, writing in my newfound diary, somewhere near the outskirts of Boston. I am no longer the little boy that I once was. I am a man now, a man that has a responsibility, a purpose, and a dream. I can become what I always wanted to be, a clock smith. I am not going to be any clock smith; I am going to be the finest in the eastern United States. My dream comes true.
Well, here’s what happened after I found out that the Richy Smith watchshop was closed down.
I could never kill myself; I just didn’t have the courage to standup to my innate fear. So, as I meanders across the back alleys of the dark and now eerie, abandoned streets, back to the home that I thought would house me for another eternity, streaks of tear fell upon my face. I did not know if it was for fear or for the blistering cold that I just became aware of, or something else, but I didn’t care any more. Laying flat on the bed, I can now safely say that I have no worries anymore, and felt silently asleep.
That was the best sleep I had, have or will have in my life. I was complacent, willing to give up my life for anyone else, in my dreams, as I reminisced, I would be a soldier, dying in war but in glory, or a mindless slave captured in some roman war. I was done for.
That deep peaceful slumber did not last as long as I wished it. I was awakened by the rousing excitement of the cousins, whom, under the usual supervision of Mother, would never be allowed to such a noise level. However, she did this time. After quickly rushing down the hall (as I apparently forgot to undress last evening), I found out why.
The savory aura of gourmet food, each with a delicate design of its own and a taste that was no less attracting than any other, held its place on our dining table. Whoever it was for, I must be dreaming, actually, Mother would never allow such a thing, I am definitely dreaming, I thought. Mother, again with her infallible sense, pinched me about three times, made me yelp on almost the top of my voice, and dragged me to the center of the room. I stood paralyzed, from the pain and pressure in the center of the room as the young buggers snickered at me. Unlike Mother, their smiles betrayed them. I then knew that the feast was in my honor, or at least partially for me. And it was.
That patron I met yesterday was apparently a corporate investor on watches. After my fabulous performance of not fixing the watch because it was unfixable (which apparently it was, only he knew how to fix and unfix it), and my recommendation to him that made my mentor a head mechanic, and my … ok, maybe it’s all a coincidence, but nonetheless I was both honest and skillful, so he awarded me with feast and something I never dreamed of, my adoption certificate. The speed at which Mother signed it was so astonishing, that I knew for sure that I am in good hands. My future is safe.
So, here I am riding in my horse drawn carriage again, living the last of my child life’s fantasy with my last piece of journal with the name of Alexander Carr. Next week, I would be a fully employed under the name of Alexander Revere, the name of my new father.
Alexander Carr, 1933