Author : Matthew Harrison
“Tell Mr Hoffmann, Jimmy,” said his father.
The noonday sun outside had been dazzling, and Jimmy’s eyes were still adjusting to the dimness of the shop. The old jeweller loomed formidably behind the counter. But at his father’s prompting, Jimmy piped up, “It’s my watch. The time is wrong.”
Mr Hoffmann frowned, his white eyebrows almost meeting. “Our watches are very gut,” he said slowly, becoming Germanic in his concern. “Vot is the problem?” His son Stepan came up, his younger brow likewise furrowed.
At his father’s signal Jimmy took his watch off, reached up, and put it on the counter. “The numbers – there’s a thirteen…” Then he saw Stepan. “I bought it from him.”
Mr Hoffmann glanced at Stepan. Then he put on an eyeglass and squinted at the watch. “Ach, Ja! Dreizehn!” He took the eyeglass out.
Then with ponderous humour: “Thirteen o’clock – Ha Ha! Zat vould make you late for ze lunch!”
“It did too,” his father said.
Mr Hoffmann invited Jimmy to choose another watch. With encouragement from his father, Jimmy looked, and chose a shiny new digital one. Mr Hoffman congratulated him, and passed the old watch to Stepan.
“In a way, it’s a pity,” said his father. “We could have used the extra hour.”
“As could we, as could we,” Mr Hoffmann agreed with a smile.
When Jimmy and his father had gone, Mr Hoffmann turned to Stepan. He was not smiling now. When he spoke, it was not in German or any other recognisable language. But it seems that Stepan understood, for with a miserable expression he picked up the watch and quickly did something to it so that the numbers ran from one to twelve again.
Outside, there was a sudden flurry. The sun flipped back in the sky, and then resumed its normal course.