Wheels and Bushings

Maureen Langloss

It was six o'clock in the morning when I started collecting clocks, and now it's 9:37.


I mean it's 10:00cm.

These clocks are all wrong. Time is spilling out of them and getting everything ... getting everything ... that word when the clothes are on the floor and crumbs are in your bed and you've spilled wine and yelled at George.

These clocks are broken, so I'm putting them in a bookshelf. Not a bookshelf. I'm putting them in a big bag with sturdy handles. I'm still strong enough to lift bags. My bones work, even if they're old bones. I don't have osteoalopecis like my friends. My DEXA scan shows I've got a solid mountain, the doctor said. Not a mountain. A ladder. Not a ladder. A scaffolding.

I make a list of the clocks so I don't forget what I'm giving Mr. King, the Clockman, to repair.

1.   George's Timex. It came to a full stop in 2010 after he jumped out of the boat out of the world.

2.   The round clock in June's childhood bedroom with the hammer on top that taps between two bells. Forth and back, when it should be back and forth. It sounds too sad happy. I gave her that clock for her tenth birthday. I wrapped it in tissue paper again this year and put it beside her cake with the fifty sixty candles. But June doesn't want my gift anymore.

3.   The clock on the little laser oven. June leaves containers of food in my freezer box, and the laser oven doesn't have enough minutes to melt them. I crack my molar teeth on the icy parts.

3.   My grammy's grandfather clock. No, not grandfather. It's not that wide. It's not that thing when it stands from the floor almost to the ceiling. It takes up less length. Grammy sleeps inside it now. Tick tock. Tick tock. Her heart grinding along. It used to be on the mantle beside the couch where I slept when I visited as a girl. Those loverly church bells chime every quarter hour. But they've gotten tired fuzzledopply. Ill.

4.   The time portal where you can call people and look up 7,000 recipes for spaghetti. June got it for me at the Izod store. If I look at its bright screen before bed, it gives me dreams that are too puffed up. Too racecar. Too fast.

I read the Post-It June put on the door as I go out. It says Front Door. I cross it off and write Puerta. When I get home, I'll change all her Post-Its to French so at least I'll learn something.

The bag is heavy. I remove the little laser oven and leave it in my front hall. I don't care for June's icy lasagna anyway.

The bag is chiming and beeping. No clock beats to the same drummer.

I'm trying to remember Mr. King Clock, the one to twelve of his face. He has gray hair and always carries a leather cover with pages glued inside. I wind onto First Avestreet. I wind again, left this time. I walk blocks, counting them carefully. I set my bag on the ground and rest. I wind again. My mind remembers the city map so neatly, like it does "Starry Night"—the church straight and tall amidst curls of blue.

Why are so many other things like when the wine spills in the bed?

I open the clockmaker's door, which I know is a door without having to read the sign.

"Can I help you?" the secretary asks. The hands on her clock point to 1:35. It can't be 1:35 already. I only just left home. My, am I hungry. The clockmaker must be getting rusty; his time pieces are breaking too.

I drop my bag on the floor. A dog inches away from its owner towards me and tucks its nose in the bag. He sniffs around the times of my life. Everyone in the shop has an animal. Cats in laps, birds in cages, dogs on bracelets. How odd. The world is too racecar. In my day, you didn't bring your animal with you everywhere.

I try to lift my bag onto the secretary's desk with some indifference. I mean difficulty. My shoulder feels that way that makes you take an aspirin. But my bones are a mountain. So I grasp the handles tighter, ignore the crackle in my shoulder, hoist the bag up, then down, then up again.

"What are these?" The secretary rises to look. "Clocks?"

"They need repair. I wind them, and still they don't speak properly."

"This is a veterinary hospital."

Veterinary. Veterinary. What is that again?

"No, I believe you're mistaken, dear," I say—the words trotting along for once. "This establishment is my clockmaker, as it has been since 1962. Please let me speak to Mr. Clock Kingman. He'll remember me."

A bark starts dogging, and a woman shushes it. Grammy's clock scolds the animal. Dong...Dong...Dong.

Eventually, my gray-haired man emerges from the back of the store. I like his white coat, how he's professionalizing the place, and tell him that.

"You remember my grandmother's heart," I say, pulling it from my bookshelf. "It's frozen and I need you to de ... to de ... to melt—"

"I'm sorry, ma'am. I think you might be confused. May I call someone for you?"

I open the clock's puerta, and tell him to clunk inside.

"You've always done something to the wheels and the bushings."

They are solid words. Wheels and bushings. They are good words to remember.

"Ma'am, I see there's an iPhone in your bag." He puts a hand on my shoulder. It's warm and soothes the ache there. "Do you have a contacts list?"

George. I wish George were in there. We married at St. Francis of Assisi right before the church bells rang. Or right after. Maybe that's where we met? In the church bells? I wanted bagpipes at his funeral, but he'd have died twice. How he hated the pipes.

"Ma'am, who can I call to help you?"

I stare at the bird in the cage. Its bushings need fixing.

"My daughter's name is July. Let's call July, shall we?"