The Timepiece (part three) – Issue 12.1

“Ta-da,” Simon gave a fanfare as he displayed his watch to Michelle.
“Ah! So that’s what it was.  The famous timepiece,” said Michelle.
“Famous?”
“Yeah.  They give them to staff whose error rates are negligible, but who could perhaps work a little quicker.  Sort of their in-joke, saying, ‘Yes, your work’s fine, but have you seen the time.’  I remember Graham – nice lad, you’d have got on well with him – received something similar two years ago.  Two or three weeks later he was transferred to Head Office, so they must work,” Michelle chuckled.  “Took ill a short time afterwards, though, and had to leave.  Come to think of it, I never did find out what happened to him.
“So who else has one?” asked Simon.
“Tracey, Simon and Mark, though Mark’s off sick at the moment,” replied Michelle.
“Ah, right.  I thought I hadn’t seen him around for a while.  Nothing serious I hope?”
“I don’t know the details, but I think it’s something to do with his heart.”
“His heart!” exclaimed Simon.  “He can’t be more than forty-five.”
Michelle glanced at Simon wondering if he was teasing her, but realising he was serious, replied, “He’ll love you for saying that.  He’s only in his mid-thirties.”  Michelle paused a moment and gazed thoughtfully into the mid-distance.  “I think he must have been overdoing things,” she said, then gave a little laugh. “Not something I’ve ever been accused of!”
Simon smiled, but tactfully said nothing.
Michelle slid the steering-wheel smoothly through her hands and glided gently to a halt in her usual parking space.  Simon thanked her for the lift, got out of the car and walked briskly towards the revolving door, which was hungrily swallowing his col-leagues at the start of another day.
“Oh, you’re wel-” began Michelle, but Simon had already become the door’s latest mouthful!
Inside, Simon looked at his new watch.  “Eight forty-seven,” he thought.  “Slightly earlier than usual.  Good!”  A smile formed on his lips as he remembered Patricia’s words.  “One hundred and forty percent, here I come!”  He looked at the watch again.  His smile disappeared as he studied the four smaller dials, the hands of which whirred busily, each succeeding dial faster than the last.  “Tch,” tutted Simon.  “I’m sure I set this correctly.”
“What was that Simon?”
“Oh! Hello, Patricia.  It’s just the watch.  Thanks very much for it, bytheway.”
“You’re more than welcome, Simon,” chirped Patricia, with apparent sincerity.  “Nothing wrong, I hope?”
As she said this, Donald’s tall, stockily built frame ambled up beside her.
“Hi, Donald,” said Simon cheerfully, then turning back to Patricia, he continued.  “No, no.  I just appear to be getting ahead of myself, that’s all.  I don’t know, 2012 already!”  He tutted again, then turned and made his way up the staircase to the first floor offices.
Behind him, still in the reception area, Donald and Patricia watched Simon ascend the staircase and offer his security pass to a square, black pad on the wall.  He pulled open the magnetic door and strode through to begin his day.  As the door swung shut with a heavy clunk, Donald and Patricia looked at one another and each smiled a curious half-smile, before they, too, followed on up the stairs shuffling documents.
“You know, Patricia, this productivity target of one hundred and forty percent.  Is it really high enough?”  Donald asked, without the least trace of a smile, whatsoever.
“Oh, Emma, you should have seen me at work today.  I must have hit ninety percent productivity at least.”  Simon slipped the watch from his wrist and handed it to his wife to place on the bedside cabinet.  He let out a long, slow sigh, almost of relief.  “I never thought I could work so quickly, but today it seemed to come easily.  Mind you, I only had time to breathe once during each account closure.  Heh,heh,” he chuckled to himself, “I hit a snag with one case in mid afternoon.  Nearly turned blue!”
Simon turned to Emma hoping to see his wit acknowledged in some form on her face, but she was still holding the watch, examining it, totally engrossed.
“This is wrong!” she said.
“What’s that, dear?  Oh, the year.  Yes, I know.  Seems to be running a little fast.  In fact the day and month are out, too, but it does keep perfect time, strangely enough.”
“Perfect time in the year 2014 apparently!”  Emma looked up from the watch and stared into the mid-distance, a quizzical expression on her face.  “Why on Earth does a watch, sorry Samuelson Timepiece, need to display the year, anyway?  Or the month, come to that?”
“Don’t know,” replied her husband.  “Never gave it any thought.  Not important is it?”
Emma placed the timepiece carefully on the bedside cabinet, reached up and pulled the light cord, blanketing the room in darkness.  She gave Simon a kiss on the cheek before answering: “No, I suppose not, darling.  Just a bit funny, that’s all.”  Then she rolled over, tucked the bedclothes under her chin and tried, eventually successfully, to get to sleep.
The revolving door gulped and into the heavy re-circulated air of the reception area strode Simon.
“Good morning.”  Patricia chirrupped.  “Early again I see.”  She cocked her head toward the timepiece on Simon’s left wrist and widened her mouth sufficiently to display the relevant smile.
“Oh!  Hello, Patricia.  Yes.  Yes.  I think Michelle’s remembering to take the handbrake off!”
Patricia’s expression remained fixed.  “I must say both Donald and I have been very impressed by your performance this week.  An increase in productivity on each of the last four days.  You’re now up to…let me see…”  her head flicked to the clipboard in her left arm, “…108 per cent.”  She flicked her gaze back to Simon and said in all sincerity, “That’s most encouraging.”                      (The End, for now)

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