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    Dodger
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All the Time in the World - 1. Chapter 1

It had been another long day; a Saturday according to the flashy LED directly above me. He did days, months, and years, and plugged into the wall. A useful gadget to have around but too close for my liking, and he wasn’t doing much for my chances of finding a home. The shoppers noticed him first because he was unboxed. I generally hated display models; second-hand goods laid bare to be used and played with by all and then sold off cheaply to make way for new stock.

I was still respectably clothed in my original packaging, waiting for that special guy to come along and sweep me off my imaginary feet, but after three long weeks of being ignored, I was beginning to wonder if I was destined to be left on the shelf.

It wasn’t my fault; I had obviously been put in the wrong place. I needed to be higher up to be seen, but the top rows were all taken by the slick digital products. They put the cheaper makes at the bottom and I had been marked ‘reduced to clear’. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be.

* * * * *

I was made for a boy; peacock blue, with strong hands, short stubby legs, and a cheeky round face. My box was printed in English but I came from a factory in Northeast China. One of twenty-thousand brothers and sisters made for export and shipped around the globe. It took four weeks to cross the ocean; a long and arduous journey in poor conditions and extreme temperatures, unfit for any product with moving parts like mine. Those of us without silica gel perished in the damp conditions, packed together, a hundred to a box, eight boxes to a crate, and thirty crates to a container.

Our destination was America; the land of opportunity and we arrived brimming with confidence and ready to serve. Our makers had told us that we were the best. Reliable, strong, affordable, and needed in every home across the country, but we were ill-prepared and hopelessly outdated.

At the docks, there were endless delays as we were inspected, separated, sent to warehouses and then packed into trains and trucks to be transported across the continent. It was another three weeks before I arrived at my designated retailer, somewhere on the east coast, I think. It didn’t matter, I was ready for my new home and I expecting it to be sooner rather than later.

It was every clock’s ambition to find a good home and I had high expectations. We were told that American families lived in big houses with multiple bedrooms, often one person to a room. The possibilities were endless; there were stories of five or six of us finding homes with the same family. It was an exciting prospect and a good time to be a clock.

The reality, however, painted quite a different picture. There must have been some kind of mistake because I was a quality product. Mass produced, yes, but with moving parts, not cheap electrical circuit boards. My box said retro, but I was labeled as a cheap import and my dream was shattered. I was never destined for a plum spot in a department store window, but I was expecting to do a lot better than the bottom shelf of the local Dollar Store.

It was an ignominious showcase for a fine product with more than a hundred moving parts and a two-year warranty, but the competition offered gimmicks that I didn’t have. They were all digital even the ones with hands like mine, and they came with an impressive array of extras, to grab the attention of potential buyers. Their wake up calls was different and variable. They could buzz, beep, hum, chime, and sing. The sexy little travel clock opposite even vibrated. Some played music, others had lights, a few of them even talked, and they all had snooze!

The sleek Italian model next to me had explained all about America’s love affair with the snooze button. He made it sound almost romantic but it felt like a slap in the face for an old-time ringer like me. As if to prove his point, he was snapped up within an hour of hitting the shelf, leaving me to gather more dust.

“Ciao, buddy!”

I started to blame our makers. Our design hadn’t changed in years; leaving us exposed and badly equipped for the modern western market. Maybe we did need slimline electrical circuits after all, and not cumbersome mechanisms. Who would buy anything nowadays that needed to wound up by hand? It was cute but unrealistic. Our precision sprung moving parts, were no match for the modern chip and I started to wish that I had never been made.

We were the latest of our kind but ultimately, relics of a bygone age and no longer needed. America had been our dream, but the free market economy had proved our downfall because we couldn’t compete. We were out-of-date and unfashionable, but worst of all, we took up valuable time. It was America’s most precious commodity and something that we were very good at monitoring but equally good at consuming. Our English instructions used words such as quality, and accuracy, and offered guarantees, but we required time and effort from our owners and a regular daily routine to maintain optimum performance.

The only winding up that I was getting was from the other clocks on the shelf as an endless parade of potential buyers passed me by on their way to the checkout. They carried with them, baskets filled to the brim with battery operated gadgets and crap, which would do well to survive the end of the day, without giving me a second look.

I was tired, dirty, and ready to accept the humiliation of being returned to the warehouse. Even the Dollar Store wasn’t able to find me a home. The country which had opened its arms to imports from all over the world hadn’t lived up to my expectations. The competition was ruthless and the consequences of failure severe. There were rumors sweeping the shelves of illegal imports crossing the southern border that were selling for less. I was here legally and had papers to prove it, but small town USA wasn’t the friendliest place for a product with ‘made in China’ printed on its still unopened box.

The air inside was stale and my arms froze at factory settings; ten after two. It made me look as is I was smiling, but other than the luminous numbers, my face was bland and featureless. No fancy buttons or changeable tones, but I would prove my worth if someone out there would just give me a chance.

When a clock loses track of time; it usually spells the end, and that was what it felt like that Saturday, just before closing when a group of high-spirited kids came walking down our aisle. They were loud and looked troublesome and there were worried murmurs from our ranks as they approached. For once, I didn’t really want to be noticed, fearing the inevitable ridicule, which my foreign tags and old fashioned looks were certain to attract. I was already a reliable source of amusement for my more contemporary colleagues on the shelves above.

As they got closer, I could see that they were in their late teens or even college age, not usually the type to show any interest in the likes of me. I braced myself for the usual string of insults and when the first guy stopped in front, I feared the worst.

“Hey look, an old-fashioned alarm clock,” he said and he lowered his head to take a closer look. I got nervous and scared as he peered into my box through the scratched and dented Polyethene window. His round, pimpled face blocked out most of the store’s light and for a few seconds, it was all that I could see, like a giant facial eclipse as he stared into my musky carton.

His presence and unexpected interest in a product not usually worthy of such attention were already causing a stir.

I heard the carriage clock ask. “Who's he looking at?”

There were other voices; products that I had never seen and only recognized by their narcissistic rhetoric. “He’s looking at the old guy below.”

“I’m not old; I’m retro!”

“You gotta be kidding me, that thing doesn’t even work.”

“Hey kid, the antiques are next door.” There was a chorus of laughter, directed at me and I cursed my misfortune. This kid was only bringing, even more, attention to my list of deficiencies.

My humiliation was almost complete and I no longer had either the strength or will to respond.

“Go away kid; I’m not worth anything to you.”

“I thought they stopped making these things years ago,” he said. It brought on another round of laughter from the shelves around me and a few more heartless jibes. Even some of the fancy wall clocks opposite found it funny and chimed in, like the obtrusive, brightly painted Swiss guy.

“Who the hell is he laughing at?”

He was cuckoo anyway and probably a bit too expensive for this boy’s pockets.

It was a relief when the boy’s face finally withdrew to study some of the competition. The Japanese guy next to me was nice; he told me to keep my head up, stay focused, but the others, predictably just laughed. It was easy for him to say; he ran on a battery, even if it wasn’t included.

The girl had picked up the two-faced guy with the Roman numerals and a separate barometer, but the boy was more interested in the sports section. I wanted to warn him; I doubt if any of those jock ne’er-do-wells were official merchandise, but he went straight for the guy with the soccer ball face. He claimed to be the Official Timekeeper for the soccer World Cup but had most likely bribed his way onto the top shelf. To me, he was the epitome of tacky and poor taste.

I was too busy feeling sorry for myself to notice the boy turning back on his heels and I was startled when I saw his hand moving towards me at speed, rapidly growing in size until it was on top of me. I felt the cardboard walls around me compress as he gripped my box between his thumb and fingers.

It all happened so quickly and I didn’t have time to prepare. Human movements were always so rapid, and the shelf fell away like a stone until I was level once again with his face. He was tall and I must have been more than five feet in the air when he turned me over to read the back of my box. Suspended in mid-air, I found myself staring back down at the shelf and I could see the empty space where I had been sitting for three weeks. I was out of earshot, but the other products looked shocked by this kid’s choice and it didn’t look as if they were laughing anymore either.

It was the first time that I had been lifted but for others, it was a regular thing and more often than not, they were put back again, some even in the wrong place or upside down. I could only imagine the shame.

“Okay kid, you’ve had your fun, now put me back and leave me alone.”

I knew how it worked by now and I had to be realistic. It was an experience but the odds of anyone exchanging money for a cumbersome ringer were stacked against me and I was preparing myself for the return journey. At least I wasn’t a loser anymore; someone had shown interest. It would make me a little more popular and raise my social status a notch or two. I was no longer a total failure.

“These old-fashioned clocks are neat; don’t you think?” said the spotty kid. He was talking to a girl who was standing behind him. I hadn’t even noticed her there.

“I’m not old-fashioned by the way, I’m retro. If you read my box, it’s on their somewhere.”

“That’s pretty cool, how much as it?” said the girl.

“She thinks I’m cool; marry her!”

“I dunno; five bucks?”

“I’m worth more than that though. How can they even make me that cheaply?”

“You have to wind it up,” said the girl and she smirked. I was quickly going off her.

“Yeah, I know,” he said.

“He knows okay, just keep out of it.”

“Why don’t you just use the alarm on your phone like everyone else?” I hated this girl with a passion.

“Don’t listen to her. I’m better than a phone and a lot less complicated. You won't get a bill from me either!”

“I like it,” he said. “I like old stuff.”

“I’m not old, I’m retro. Do you even know what that means? Ah, who cares, just put me back kid. Thanks for the ride.”

“What the hell, it’s five bucks. I’ll buy it,” he said. “I can’t go wrong.”

“What did he say? What did you say? Ahhhhh!!!!!”

I screamed all the way to the basket where I was placed face down, on a packet of marshmallows.

“Hi guys, how are you?”

They didn’t too happy; I guess their days were numbered, but my life had just begun. I didn’t even get the chance to say goodbye to the other models on the shelf. The ones who had been laughing at me. Now I was laughing; all the way to the checkout.

“I wish I could have seen the look on their clock faces when he put me in the basket.”

* * * * *

Nearly four months after being factory sealed in China, I finally arrived at my new home, where my box was unceremoniously ripped apart by my new owner. It felt good to be rid of that tacky packaging; like a breath of fresh air, only I couldn’t breathe.

“Remember Tommy, you have to wind it up every day, or it’ll stop working,” said the lady who looked like his mom. I liked his name. Tommy was growing on me.

“I know how they work mom!”

“Yeah, leave him alone. He’s a smart kid, I’m sure he’ll figure me out.”

“Have you kept the receipt, in case it doesn’t work?”

“Yes, mom.”

“NO! I don’t wanna go back there. I’ll work…wait and see!”

I didn’t like his mom and was glad to see the back of her but Tommy soon had his sticky fingers all over me as he picked me up and took me with him to his room. It was just the two of us at last as he closed the door behind him and carried me to his still unmade bed. I managed a fleeting look around the bedroom, it was messy, stale, and smelly. There were clothes scattered on the floor, a couple of dirty glasses, CDs, used tissues and an old computer in the corner that looked to be asleep. My new home was everything that I had imagined it would be.

I liked him already and I was sure that he would like me. He had picked me over all the fancy models in the store and now I was ready to give myself to him and please him in a way that only an alarm clock could ever do.

“Now, let me see, how do I wind you up? I’ve never had a clock like this before.”

“I knew it; I’m his first one and he’s mine!”

He certainly didn’t waste any time as he sat on his bed and moved his hand around my back to touch me in a place where nobody had ever touched me before. He was gentle though and half a dozen quick turns were all it took to bring me to life.

It felt so good!

Over a hundred precision made parts moving in perfect harmony, each one performing a unique and specialist task. No digital, battery-powered copy could possibly compare.

The gentle ticking would have been music to my ears if I had any, but I could do so much more and my saucy young owner was soon twiddling with my knob and putting my hands exactly where he wanted them. I had other things for him to play with like the two big round bells on my head, with the stiff little hammer in between. Loud enough to wake everyone in the house, but I only cared about him.

Tommy was seventeen years old when he gave me the pride of place on his bedside table, and I loved him from that day onwards.

I was always the last thing he saw at night when he switched off his lamp and the first thing he reached for in the mornings. I woke him up every day for school without fail and then watched him sleep late on the weekends hoping that my ticking wouldn’t wake him.

When he left for college; I went with him and when he eventually moved out to share a bed with someone else, he took me there too.

I spent sixteen happy years waking up my angel and peacefully ticking away in the background while he slept. I kept good time with little maintenance and only the occasional adjustment. It was what I was made to do and after an auspicious start, I was able to fulfil my destiny and exceed all expectations. When I finally stopped ticking for good, I had outlived my warranty by more than a dozen years and during that time, I didn’t use up a single battery or unit of electricity.

Tommy was my only owner and the only one to ever touch me where it mattered. He did it every night without fail, day after day, year after year, gently and lovingly turning my key…as if he had all the time in the world.

If you enjoyed this story, then please take the time to like, leave a comment below, and seek professional help at your own expense.

The Author does not advocate or condone having sexual relations with an alarm clock.

Copyright © 2017 Dodger; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments



Wonderful! I felt for your clock ... Though I have to say a wind-up one wouldn't be on my shopping list. ;) I loved the happy ending - the double-entendres were funny and very apt. Loved it.

  • Like 3
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You've made winding an alarm clock erotic ... of course that alarm clock saw many of Tommy's most intimate moments.

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So a man walks into a clock shop...whips out his doodat and slaps it onto the counter

 

...the young man in attendance is understandably shocked and shaken but manages, "excuse me sir, but this is a clock shop!"

 

"Why yes young man, I know " says the chap "and I am in the right shop, cos I want a pair of hands and a face on this pronto..."

 

Very interesting time piece, I mean piece of writing...nicely done :great:

 

And thanks for the windup :kiss:

Edited by Magicstate
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Tommy certainly knew what made him tick! Not sure I'll see clocks the same ever again. But what's the harm in a little bit of love? 

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A friend has a wind-up clock and he uses his phone to remind him not to forget. I always found that funny. I love the story! I will definitely look at your other stories now. 

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20 hours ago, Magicstate said:

So a man walks into a clock shop...whips out his doodat and slaps it onto the counter

 

...the young man in attendance is understandably shocked and shaken but manages, "excuse me sir, but this is a clock shop!"

 

"Why yes young man, I know " says the chap "and I am in the right shop, cos I want a pair of hands and a face on this pronto..."

 

Very interesting time piece, I mean piece of writing...nicely done :great:

 

And thanks for the windup :kiss:

Thank you @Magicstate I appreciate your comment as always. Love the joke 'doodat?' I've gotta use that somewhere.

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6 hours ago, aditus said:

A friend has a wind-up clock and he uses his phone to remind him not to forget. I always found that funny. I love the story! I will definitely look at your other stories now. 

Thank you @aditus I'm so happy that you enjoyed the story and appreciate you taking the time to comment. It means a lot to me.

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9 hours ago, Puppilull said:

Tommy certainly knew what made him tick! Not sure I'll see clocks the same ever again. But what's the harm in a little bit of love? 

No harm in a little bit of love. I love a lot of inanimate objects. Not sure if I would love something that woke me up every morning with a loud bell though. Thank you so much for your comment. 

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16 hours ago, Valkyrie said:

This was absolutely brilliant! :worship: I need to read more of your stories. :) 

Thank you so much @Valkyrie for taking the time to read and comment. Your kind words and encouragement mean a lot to me.

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On 2017-07-30 at 1:38 PM, northie said:

Wonderful! I felt for your clock ... Though I have to say a wind-up one wouldn't be on my shopping list. ;) I loved the happy ending - the double-entendres were funny and very apt. Loved it.

Thank you @northie for your comment. I wouldn't want a wind-up model either, but I couldn't deny our retro friend a happy ending. Glad you liked it.

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23 hours ago, dughlas said:

You've made winding an alarm clock erotic ... of course that alarm clock saw many of Tommy's most intimate moments.

Thank you @dughlas I suppose there's nothing really erotic about an alarm clock is there, but yes he would have known Tommy better than anyone. Thank you for your comment.

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On 2017-07-30 at 1:45 PM, Cia said:

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!! 

Thank you, Cia. I hope this means you liked it.

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An excellent piece!

 

Social criticism combined with empathy and outright fun :)

The many funny lines, plays on words, had me chuckling many times.

 

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18 hours ago, Freerider said:

An excellent piece!

 

Social criticism combined with empathy and outright fun :)

The many funny lines, plays on words, had me chuckling many times.

 

Thank you @Freerider for taking the time to comment. I'm glad you enjoyed the story.

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6 hours ago, BrianM said:

Wonderful, gentle, heart-warming story.  I loved that little clock.

Thank you @BrianM for reading and commenting. I'm glad you enjoyed the story.

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Ugh, I hate clocks that tick, when I'm trying to sleep. But you made me feel sympathy for the alarm clock and I was pleased he got bought by someone who appreciated him. Wonderful story.

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16 minutes ago, Timothy M. said:

Ugh, I hate clocks that tick, when I'm trying to sleep. But you made me feel sympathy for the alarm clock and I was pleased he got bought by someone who appreciated him. Wonderful story.

I hate them too Tim. They do keep me awake. Thanks for your comment.

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5 hours ago, Caz Pedroso said:

Wonderfully funny :gikkle: 

Thank you, Caz. I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment on this story.

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On 8/1/2017 at 2:00 PM, Timothy M. said:

Ugh, I hate clocks that tick, when I'm trying to sleep. But you made me feel sympathy for the alarm clock and I was pleased he got bought by someone who appreciated him. Wonderful story.

 

Unlike Tim, I am fond of clocks that tick. This tale made me smile. It’s a wonderful story, and I enjoyed it very much. 

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