The Clock (Flash Fiction)

The clock hadn’t ticked in decades. It just sat there at the end of a salvaged wooden deck that used to be the front porch of an old farm house, now a fixture at the office entrance of Mason’s Salvage Yard.
Mason sat sipping corn whiskey, reading one of many salvaged books, waiting for customers who rarely came. The vacuum tube radio, his temperamental companion, was not working today. He licked his thumb and flipped the pages in silence.
“Hello,” said a young voice.
Mason looked up from his book, and he kept looking. A white face was rare around here unless it was a cop, and this was a young woman.
“I’m looking for some bikes?” It was definitely a question mark inflection at the end of her sentence.
“You are,” answered Mason.
She nodded eagerly, as if she was the one answering.
Mason gestured with his fat hand to the corner of the yard, a large mangled pile of rusted skeletons.
“Mind if I take a look?”
“Knock yourself out.”
Mason poured stale coffee over his cup, not that he really wanted to sober up, just a custom when he had a customer. The woman took her time and did not return until he nearly finished his pulp. She returned with two rusted bicycles.
“How much for these?”
“Forty dollars each,” said Mason after a brief glance.
“You’re kidding right?”
“Ain’t goin’ a penny lower.”
“This is a Ward Hawthorne. And this one, it’s a Schwinn B-6. 1947 I think?”
“You do,” he answered. “Do you want them or not?”
“Look, I’ll pay a hundred dollars each. Call it a deal.”
“Ain’t got no change.”
“Fine. But there’s no taking it back.”
“None for you either.”
“I need a receipt.”
“I’ll go see if I can find a pad.” He lifted his heavy self off the chair and disappeared into the old warehouse behind the porch. There was a shuffling sound as Mason moved boxes and cartons in search of a receipt pad.
“Do you have the time?” called the customer.
“What?” said Mason as he came out with a dusty curled pad.
“Do you know what time it is?”
Mason did not answer while he tried to choose from a bouquet of old pens in a small flower pot. He gestured at the clock on the other side of the porch. It was quarter past three, like always.
Mason tested the ballpoint pen on the cover, and wrote “$200.- for two bicycles”, then signed it.
“That clock’s stopped.”
“Don’t matter to me.”
She shook her head, ponytail waving behind her.
“Here’s your money,” she said exchanging it for the receipt.
“Nice doing business with you. You be careful now. This is a bad neighborhood.”
“Looks quiet to me.”
“You watch out.”
She cocked her head.
“Mind if I come back?”
“What for?”
“I don’t know. Maybe I want to sit on that porch. Read a book. See what it’s like.”
“You won’t like it. Time’s stopped here.”

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