The Man With The Golden Watch

Quote of the Day:

In the morning a man walks with his whole body; in the evening, only with his legs. –Ralph Waldo Emerson

The early spring weather is so perfect right now, except for the unbearable pollen. I was reminded, before the sneezing commenced, of a morning in Key West of some years ago and decided to try and write it down. But I’ve never owned a golden watch.

——————————

It was way too early to be wide awake, the sun barely seeping through the tiny crack in the curtains that in places like this could never be completely sealed. He felt good in spite of the hour and in spite of the intruding ray, so he got up. He walked over to the sink and splashed his face. Then he tore the plastic cup out from its protective cover and took his two morning pills with a swig of water. He threw on a t-shirt and a pair of shorts and tried his new ball cap. Then he took it off again. It just didn’t look natural and the man couldn’t figure out why he couldn’t find a cap he liked any more. There was a time he hardly recognized himself without one. He slipped on his gold watch out of habit, opened the heavy door and held it with his foot as he tossed the paper back into the room and replaced the inevitably fallen “do not disturb” hanger on the doorknob.

There was nobody outdoors yet. Nobody else, anyway, but the sun was rising quickly so they’d be out soon. A hint of chill lingered, though the hot currents that would soon predominate almost visibly ate away at its edges like piranhas attacking a nearly bare carcass. The man looked at his watch but failed to note the time as he turned the corner. A block away a young lady with a ponytail and a long white apron was setting up cafe tables on the sidewalk. They had already flung open all four sets of doors and a few tables were occupied inside away from the dew and the remnants of the chill night. The place had vitality and it looked carefree, it matched his mood. So he went in and sat down at a table where some kindly soul had left a gently used, neatly folded newspaper. He scanned the front page, then looked at the front of  “Sports”, “Life”, and “Perspective” and thought idly how considerate the unknown stranger had been to remove all the ads before deciding there was nothing in it for him and tossing it to the empty table one over where it spun once and then stopped perfectly in the center. The man smiled, pleased.

The girl with the ponytail came and took his order, pleasantly, disinterested and unobtrusive. Except she glanced at his gold watch, incongruously matched with his battle worn t-shirt and shorts, his unkempt hair and three-day stubble. He wasn’t offended because he felt good, but he was self-conscious about it now so he took it off and massaged his naked wrist. He imagined what the waitress would think if he left it for a tip because he was a sentimental romantic at heart. A dairy truck changed gears out on the street as it crossed through a puddle and the sound made him happy. As it disappeared from hearing, relative quietude reigned again briefly, broken by the shrill cry of a gull swooping down for a crumb and at almost the same time a car horn sounding far away, an amiable blow, he instinctively knew. Nobody lays on the horn in anger this time of day, except occasionally the milk truck driver, but he’d been up longer than anyone else so it was understandable.

The man finished breakfast and left cash on the table plus twenty-five percent, give or take, but slipped the gold watch back on his wrist, because he knew better. In an instant he’d changed his mind and instead put the watch in his pocket and then flexed the fingers of his weightless left hand while with his right he grabbed his bottomless drink for one last sip. He paused by one of the wide-opened doors. There was one of those souvenir animated type maps on the wall and he studied it. A beaded line of sweat formed at his hairline and he scooped it up with two fingers and flicked it out at the sidewalk, immediately thankful he’d aimed away from the girl with the ponytail who’d come up beside him unnoticed.

“You need directions, honey?”

He smiled at her wondering how each new generation of waitresses managed to adopt such clichéd and antiquated phraseology he knew they’d never dream of using at the clubs. Convenience store clerks called him “Honey” too, but you didn’t see them in clubs. He ran his left hand through his hair because he knew he looked rough and thought somehow that would help and because he wanted her to see the problem of the intrusive gold watch had been addressed.

“Yeah, I probably do, but I don’t want to ask.”

The girl shrugged her shoulders and turned to her business as the man sauntered resolutely away.

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About travellinbaen

I'm a 40 year old lawyer living in Ridgeland, Mississippi. I'm several years and a couple hundred miles removed from most of my old running buddies so I started the blog to provide an outlet for many of the observations and ideas that used to be the subjects of our late night/happy hour/halftime conversations and arguments.
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8 Responses to The Man With The Golden Watch

  1. Samsmama says:

    Loved every second of this. Totally pictured you, but in places I’ve been and the character were played by people I know. Thanks for this!

  2. Is the gull reflective of man’s nature as a scavenger? Or is it more indicative of the paradoxical nature of a winged creature needing to touch earth in order to survive?

    Or was it just a hungry bird?

  3. SM…thanks, and I mean it.

    TDW, I have the feeling your query is approximately 84% facetious, nevertheless, he is tangentially placed as a symbol of both his freedom to fly and for his life without direction, lived only in the present moment, but more specifically because the sound of his call crossed with the near simultaneous distant horn with no other sound to dilute them is one that I recall as pleasing from that day of yore referenced at the beginning. Maybe in the final version I’ll make him an eagle or at least something a little more dignified.

  4. It was 100% facetious because I have no real substance. Well, actually I was cracking myself up at the paradox question.

    Don’t change a thing.

  5. Jessie Lou says:

    I thought it was good – you have a talent for leaving your reader wondering what happens next.

    Leaving them wanting more is a great trait.

  6. Harmony says:

    “A hint of chill lingered, though the hot currents that would soon predominate almost visibly ate away at its edges like piranhas attacking a nearly bare carcass.” ~ Absolute perfection!

    and

    “an amiable blow, he instinctively knew. Nobody lays on the horn in anger this time of day” ~ Optimism in the morning, is a great way to start the day.

    I absolutely loved this.

  7. Harmo, you ever worked as an agent?

  8. Harmony says:

    No…just a secretary and a mother. Why do you ask?

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