Tik Tok

In Design and Manufacturing, we asked to come up with a story that showcased how our product would work, improve a life, etc, etc, etc.  Well, I want to build a clock, and I’m not really sure how that’s actually going to change anyone’s life.  So I, uh, wrote and turned in this.

Gary pouted and curled up in the corner of his all-to-ironically named loveseat, clutching his black satin pillow to his chest.  Fat tears leaked out of the corner of his eyes and his breath came is large, rattling gasps between sobs.

“Oh sorry day!” he lamented to Maximilian, his miniature poodle, who stood shorn in full Scandinavian clip on the rich oak floor of the parlor room.  “I am maligned!  My friends have calumniated me!”  Maximilian cocked his head to one side, hoping for a Baco-Snax Barbeque Bone, as more tears rolled down Gary’s alabaster cheeks. “They called me grandiloquent, Maximilian!  Grandiloquent!  Me!” Gary wheezed.  “Why, I can’t think of a more evil epithet, a more appalling appellation, a more pernicious honorific, a more—”

The bombastic soliloquy would have continued, but at that moment Gary’s large, ornate grandfather clock erupted in a cacophony of cuckoo clucks and clock chimes.

“CURSE YOU, YOU COLOSSAL CHRONOGRAPHIC CAD!” Gary roared.  The chimes stopped.  The clock said nothing and simply stood silently in the corner, a polished mahogany sentinel ticking away the seconds of Gary’s life.  The ornate woodwork of the clock culminated in a beautifully embellished face of polished gold, gleaming against the dark red wood.  Staring at Gary.  Laughing at Gary.  Gary realized in that moment that he hated that clock.  Hated its intricate handcrafted carvings, its opulent metal dial, its complex artisanal gearbox.  The clock was everything those people he had considered friends were calling him behind his back—grandiose, sumptuous, pompous.

Tick tock, said the clock, and Gary saw—actually saw—the hands for the first time.  They were grotesque in their grandeur, florid curlicues of intricate mahogany weavings that danced around the face like beautiful timepiece terpsichoreans.

Gary knew what had to be done.  He stormed past Maximilian to his walk-in closet and muscled aside his collection of purple velvet bathrobes, his hand grasping in the dark for the handle of his baseball bat.  The bat was simple, elegant—a single piece of sanded ash, handmade by his father, without frills or embellishments.  It was beautiful.  It was strong.

Charging back into the parlor room, bat in hand, Gary let out a mighty war cry.  Tick tock, said the clock, tick—tick tock!, but Gary was already upon it, his bat crashing down repeatedly into the shining gold face.  Chunks of ornate mahogany and bits of delicate gears flew everywhere as Gary brought the bat down again and again and again. And again.

After twenty minutes, Gary let the bat roll from his fingertips and clatter onto the wood floor.  The ground was littered with pieces of wood and metal, and Maximilian had long since fled the room for the shelter of his favorite spot by the fireplace on the other side of the house.  Gary collapsed back into his loveseat and reached for the phone on the end table.  With a sneer of disgust he picked up the pearl-inlaid receiver and dialed.

“Hello, Sven?”  Gary used the most obsequious and least grandiloquent voice he could muster.  “I need a new clock.”

One month later, Sven Sørenson, renowned Danish designer, stood in Gary’s parlor room, cringing at Gary’s skill as an interior decorator, if cramming as much hand-carved wood into one room could be considered decoration—or really interior anymore, either, since it became hard to distinguish the parlor room from a forest where the trees knotted themselves into calligraphic twists and finely detailed table legs.  Amidst the clutter was a grandfather-clock shaped hollow, where the paneled walls could actually be seen, and Sven headed here.

Pulling a ten-inch circle of gleaming metal from his rucksack, Sven smiled at Gary, who was once again pouting on the loveseat.

“You told me to build you a clock.  So I built a clock.  You told it had to be simple.  So I made it simple.  You told me it had to be elegant.  So I made it elegant.  You told me it couldn’t have frills.  So I made it without frills.  You told me—”

“I know what I told you, Sven.  Did you do it?”

Sven paused.  “You told me to build you a clock.  So I built a clock.”  And with that, he handed the piece of metal to Gary, twirled on the heels of his designer leather shoes, rucksack sweeping behind him, and walked briskly out of the house to let Gary enjoy his creation.

Gary held the clock in his hands like a zookeeper holds a baby panda.  The face was plain, but beautiful: a single piece of metal with two concentric circular grooves.  In each groove, a ball bearing slowly edged its way around the circle, tracing out the incessant march of Father Time.  But best of all, there were no hands—no ornate pointers obfuscating the view with their artistry.  Sven had worked some form of magnetic magic, placing the hands inside the clock’s body, out of sight.  It was beautiful.  It was simple.  Gary hung it on the wall and smiled.


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