12:04 p.m.

broken time

“What the hell? It happened again.”

“What’s that, Jase?”

Jason McClure continued to look at his watch with a puzzled expression on his face.

“I said my watch did it again. Says it’s 12:04 p.m.”

Val was finishing the last of the sushi rolls in the kitchen, getting ready for the kids to come over for dinner.

“It’s broken, Jase. It was your Dad’s watch, remember? Who knows how old it is.”

Jason walked into the kitchen so he could hear his wife better. “It can’t be that old. It’s an ordinary digital Casio, and it only gives the wrong time occasionally.”

“Maybe you’re pushing the wrong button or something.” Val was only half paying attention to the conversation as she meticulously sliced one of the rolls into equal pieces. “Can you get the soy sauce and wasabi out, please?”

“Sure.” Jason opened the fridge to get the tube of wasabi out, then walked across the kitchen to the pantry for the bottle of soy sauce.

“12:04 p.m. Why that specific time?”

“Maybe your Dad had an alarm set?”

“For four past noon every day? Why?”

“Is it for every day or just certain days? Maybe he wanted to wake up from a nap. You know how he liked naps.”

“That’s nuts.” Jason set the soy sauce and wasabi on the kitchen table and then went to get a bowl. “Who takes a nap in the morning and then wakes up at noon? Not Dad.”

“He wasn’t feeling very well toward the end, Jase. Maybe he set something wrong.”

“Maybe.” Jason wandered back into the living room and sat in the chair by the window.

“12:04 p.m. What an odd time,” he murmured. “It pops up sometimes when I’m trying to illuminate the display and hit the wrong button.”

Jason deliberately pushed that button and held it. “12:04 p.m. on 4-19-2017.”

He let go of the watch. The display persisted for several seconds and then returned to the present day and time.

“I’ve got to call Mom.” He abruptly got up from his chair and walked to the hall.

“Now?” Val turned her head in time to see her husband disappear around the corner. “Why not wait until the kids get here?”

Jason went into the study, closed the door behind him, picked up his smart phone, and dialed his Mom’s number. Several states away, her home phone rang.

“Hello?” Jason recognized her voice. She never bothered to check her caller ID, otherwise she’d know it was him.

“Hi, Ma. It’s me Jase.”

“Oh hi, dear. I was just thinking of you.” He could almost see her light up. She’d been so lonely since Dad passed away.

“Look, Ma. We’ll call you back in a little while when the kids get here, but I’ve got to ask you a question about Dad’s watch.”

“His watch? What about it?”

“I want to know if Dad ever complained about it coming up with the wrong time. Did he ever say anything like that to you?”

“Now that you mention it, about a month before he died, he said that sometimes it would show him the wrong time.”

“This is really important, Ma. Was it always a different time or the same time over and over?”

“Let me think. I’m pretty sure it was the same time. Around noon, maybe.”

“Exactly noon?”

“No. Oh, I remember. He said it kept saying it was four after twelve in the afternoon. He was going to take it in to be serviced but he never got around to it. Why is this so important, Jase?”

“Oh, uh…just the same thing’s happening to me.”

“Well, take it in and have it fixed.”

“I will, Ma. Look, the kids are going to be here soon. We’ll call you back a little later, okay?”

“Sure, son. I look forward to talking to everyone. Give Val my love.”

“I will, Ma. I love you. Bye.”

“I love you, too. Talk to you later.”

Jason pressed the button to end the call and set the phone down on his desk.

12:04 p.m. on Wednesday, April 19th, 2017. The exact date and time of his Dad’s death, and it started showing up on Dad’s watch a month before he died.

Mom gave me Dad’s watch after he died. It’s a Casio Wave Ceptor 3054. Sometimes I push the wrong button and the time shows as 12:04 p.m. but always for the current date. I’ve tried “Googling” what that button is supposed to do but it doesn’t seem to do anything when pressed alone.

My Dad did pass away on Wednesday, April 19th sometime between noon and 1 p.m., but probably closer to one, so I doubt his watch is telling me anything mysterious. Still, it occurred to me that it would make an interesting “ghost story” if his Casio predicted the date and time of his death, at least in fiction.

Advertisements

8 thoughts on “12:04 p.m.

  1. This story put me in mind of a very old tune, written in 1876 by American composer and songwriter Henry Clay Work. I wonder if a little ingenuity might yield a new version to fit this digital timepiece. The original version’s lyrics are as follows:
    ———————
    My grandfather’s clock was too large for the shelf,
    So it stood ninety years on the floor;
    It was taller by half than the old man himself,
    Though it weighed not a pennyweight more.
    It was bought on the morn of the day that he was born,
    And was always his treasure and pride;
    But it stopped, short — never to go again — when the old man died.

    Ninety years without slumbering
    (tick, tock, tick, tock),
    His life’s seconds numbering,
    (tick, tock, tick, tock),
    It stopped, short, never to go again — when the old man died.

    In watching its pendulum swing to and fro,
    Many hours he spent as a boy.
    And in childhood and manhood the clock seemed to know
    And to share both his grief and his joy.
    For it struck twenty-four when he entered at the door,
    With a blooming and beautiful bride;
    But it stopped, short — never to go again — when the old man died.

    Ninety years without slumbering
    (tick, tock, tick, tock),
    His life’s seconds numbering,
    (tick, tock, tick, tock),
    It stopped, short — never to go again — When the old man died.

    My grandfather said that of those he could hire,
    Not a servant so faithful he found;
    For it wasted no time, and had but one desire —
    At the close of each week to be wound.
    And it kept in its place — not a frown upon its face,
    And its hands never hung by its side.
    But it stopped short — never to go again — when the old man died.

    Ninety years without slumbering
    (tick, tock, tick, tock),
    His life’s seconds numbering,
    (tick, tock, tick, tock),
    It stopped, short, never to go again — when the old man died.

    It rang an alarm in the dead of the night —
    An alarm that for years had been dumb;
    And we knew that his spirit was pluming for flight —
    That his hour of departure had come.
    Still the clock kept the time, with a soft and muffled chime,
    As we silently stood by his side;
    But it stopped short — never to go again — when the old man died.

    Ninety years without slumbering
    (tick, tock, tick, tock),
    His life’s seconds numbering,
    (tick, tock, tick, tock),
    It stopped short — never to go again — when the old man died.
    ———————

    Perhaps an updated version might go something like the following (same tune):
    ———————
    My grandfather’s watch never stopped telling time,
    Though it had a small quirk to display.
    It was not very special, a digital piece,
    So there’s no explanation I could say.

    But it would, time to time,
    with no reason and no rhyme,
    Intermittently show a display.

    It was stopped, short – always the same display – when the old man died.

    Intermittently numbering,
    (“flash, blink, flash, blink”),
    the hour of his “slumbering”,
    (“flash, blink, flash, blink”),
    It stopped, short – always the same display – when the old man died.
    ———————

    With a bit more information, this might, I suppose, be similarly extended to tell the story of significant events in this man’s life. I’m not entirely happy about my attempt for a suitable chorus. I couldn’t keep the phrase about ninety years without slumbering, because the regrettable fact is that digital watches haven’t been around that long, and they don’t require winding, though the battery must be replaced now and again. Somehow it seems inadequate to replace “tick, tock, tick, tock” with a mere “flash, blink, flash, blink”; and we still face the challenge of relating a story that connects the watch to its original owner within a shorter timeframe than an entire human lifetime.

    ———————
    It displayed 12:04 when I opened the door
    to the room where its owner had slept.
    It continued to flash, and my mouth tasted ash,
    When I saw where the watch had been kept.

    It was then that I knew what the watch was trying to do.
    It was honoring what once had been.

    It was stopped, short – always the same display – when the old man died.

    Intermittently numbering,
    (“flash, blink, flash, blink”),
    the hour of his “slumbering”,
    (“flash, blink, flash, blink”),
    It stopped, short – always the same display – when the old man died.
    ———————

    I dunno, there must be some suitable way of fitting your story into the musical pattern. It just seems too good an inspiration to waste.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think the second verse might be improved slightly by restoring a rhyme between the end of that verse and the key repeated line, as follows:
      ———————–
      It was then that I knew what the watch was trying to do.
      It was honoring whom once did abide.

      It was stopped, short – always the same display – when the old man died.
      ———————–

      I suppose the first verse might strive for something closer to an actual rhyme, such as:
      ———————–
      But it would, time to time,
      with no reason and no rhyme,
      Intermittently show something odd.

      It was stopped, short – always the same display – when the old man died.
      ———————–
      Now, “odd” and “died” are stretching the notion of assonance, but it could be nonetheless acceptable.

      Like

      • Not sure a grandfather clock maps very well to a digital watch. A grandfather clock might well weather ninety years but I seriously doubt a digital clock would. Also, back in the day, a clock or a fine old watch might be worth the maintenance and repair costs, but if a digital watch stops, you’d just buy a new one.

        The grandfather clock’s unceasing tick tock was very much like the man’s heartbeat. Once one stopped, so did the other.

        Like

      • I agree that the correspondence between the ticking of a clock and the beating of a human heart is much more obvious, consequently it’s more of a stretch to envision any similar correspondence that a digital watch could mimic if it were to behave as if with a mind of its own. BTW, Kris was referring to the song about “My Grandfather’s Clock” for which I reproduced and emulated the lyrics in my previous responses.

        As for just buying a new watch, do you think the inheritor of your “Twilight Zone” watch would prefer to keep it for sentiment, or to be rid of it out of numinous fear, or to replace it with a more predictably functioning new one? A classic grandfather clock that ceased working and couldn’t be repaired would lend itself to comparisons with a coffin; and, in fact, Wikipedia mentioned that subsequent variations on the above song included the notion of burying the old man inside it. Obviously, such notions don’t translate to an electronic wristwatch, for reasons such as we each mentioned. But, hey, if your “Twilight Zone” watch would keep time normally most of the time, and only occasionally or under certain circumstances display the time and date of its original owner’s death, why replace it? It would function as a perfect “Yartzeit” reminder, making it a very appropriate watch for a Jewish son to keep. Perhaps it would remind him to say the “Kaddish” thrice daily during the first year’s mourning period, and annually afterward. Indeed, that sounds like the sort of optional “alarm” setting that a Jewish designer might wish to program into an electronic watch. Of course, even with such an option, your story would still work to send a shiver up a reader’s spine because of the unanswerable question about who set the time and activation for this special alarm.

        Like

  2. I remember that song-it is on one of my children’s Christmas songs albums. (yeah, that long ago!) This short startled me…Sort of Twilight Zone like.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s