Everyone knew Henry Kircher's clock shop.It had been tucked into that small space next to the drug store. The town was small and no one could remember when it wasn't there? Henry and his wife lived just on the edge of town and you could set your watch on the exact time Henry would walk that short distance and stop and buy a newspaper. Yet, Henry never wore a watch. I guess that he really didn't need one when there were so many hanging and standing in every available space in his shop.
Children would gather in front of his shop window to just be there and hear all the clocks strike the hour. They would point and laugh at the many Cuckoo clocks as the little doors opened and the figures came out and made there particular sounds.
His wife Greta was also a timely person for everyday she brought Henry his lunch at exactly 1:00 pm. She was not the friendliest person. She would only nod to a greeting and pass on by. Everyone knew that she controlled the purse-strings in the business. Greta took care of all the ordering of parts for the clocks and she kept the books and was seen going into the bank every Monday morning at exactly 10:00 am.
People often remarked that Henry's shop did not have any more space to hang another Cuckoo clock so they assumed that he must have many more hanging on his walls at home. They had seen people from other towns bring in all sorts of clocks for him to repair. Henry could always be seen bent over at his table working on these clocks at all hours.
This was a trade that he had learned from his father and grandfather. The Cuckoo clock was the most popular and also his favorite. Typically they are pendulum driven and strike the hours using small bellows and pipes that imitate the call of the common Cuckoo in addition to striking a wire gong. These mechanism's to produce the cuckoo call was installed in almost ever kind of Cuckoo clock since the middle of the eighteenth century and has remained without variation until the present. There were models with musical dancers, or moving trains and many more. Some were eight-day clocks and others were one-day and musical but they all had the same basic characteristics.
Yes, you would naturally assume that Henry's house was filled with these special treasures. Yet, no one really knew anyone that had actually been invited to his house. Henry was very friendly and courteous to everyone that walked into his shop. Henry and Greta did not attend any social functions or did they attend church. Sunday was the only day the clock shop was closed---except for Christmas day.
The only thing that was apparent was their small house was well maintained on the out side, but on the inside it held only the bare necessities. There was only one item that did stand out in the sparsely furnished living room. Greta's mother had given her a grandfather clock when she married Henry. It was not an attractive clock as many are. It had no ornate features or did it work. It had just sat there in that same spot for forty-five years.
It was called a long-case clock with a simple pine case. There were two keyholes on either side of the dial for winding of the clock and it was an eight-day clock. The keys were lost long ago and it didn't seem to be a priority for Henry to fix it. Maybe it was the fact that when he come home each day he did not want to hear the ticking of another clock. No, it was simply there and collecting dust.
Henry had other things to worry about now. Old clocks were losing ground with all the new technology. Everyone wore a digital watch now and the only people that came into the shop were antique dealers that wanted the clocks for their appearance than there inside quality. Several suggested that he should also think about marketing them in that way. Of course they too did not want to pay for the quality and some didn't really care if they kept correct time.
Well he was getting old and maybe it was time he retired. After all he had made a modest income in all these years and Greta had kept ledgers of their savings. She kept every detail of all expenses and they didn't need anything or want all those fancy items that people around them seem to need. They didn't even own a car, there had been no need for one. Greta ordered all supplies that he needed at the shop and the market was right down the street.
It was two weeks ago that it happened. Greta did not appear at noon with his lunch which had never happened before. She had complained about being tired but she had been complaining about that for years. Well, maybe it was time he changed his dull routine and close shop early today.
He found her on the kitchen floor and she had died. The doctor told him that it appeared to have been a fatal stroke.
Several days after the funeral, which no one attended. The pharmacist was the only one that sent flowers.
He decided that yes, it was now time to retire. He called the antique dealer that had been begging him to sell the shop and all it clocks as a package. Now he was informed that the man was longer interested. So he decided to just close the shop and wait for a buyer. Yes, it was time to just sit back and live on his savings. What he was going to do with his time he did not know for he had not thought that far ahead.
That evening he sat at the small table in the kitchen and scanned the ledgers that Greta had kept of all their finances. There were numiours small entries and he thought it odd that all the entries were whole numbers never---cents? He remembered way back that day after they married that they opened their bank account and Greta handled it from then on and kept her own separate accounts by entering them in her many ledgers. He was grateful for he was not good at numbers.
The first new thing that he needed to learn was the simple task of preparing his own meals, for his stomach had demanded this. There had only been a few eggs in the refrigerator and he had eaten them, also all the cupboards were almost bare. Well tomorrow he would go to the bank and draw out a sufficient amount to take care of this and any other needs until the shop had a buyer.
He demanded to speak to the manger Ed Wright when he was told by the teller that his account did not allow for the withdraw of the amount that he requested. His account showed that he had a total of twenty-five dollars, the same amount that had opened the account many years ago.
The manager informed him that his wife came in every Monday morning and only exchanged coins for dollar bills. She had never made a deposit!
He stood there out side the bank for a long moment in just sheer disbelief in what he had just been told. Where had all their money gone? Did Greta spend it and on what? he hurried home and rechecked all the neatly written entries in the ledgers again. He found nothing out of place.
He was now desperate for money and he had several Cuckoo clocks at the shop that were known to be of more value than others. Now he would just have to find a buyer for them at least. Luckily he found a buyer and sold them immediately but at a lower price. Now he had money to survive while he figured out what Greta did with their savings.
As he sat there one morning he had to admit that he did miss hearing the sounds of all his clocks. After all it had been a sound that he was use to hearing every day. Maybe he should bring a few of them home to keep him company with their musical sounds. It was then he looked over at the big old grandfather clock that had sat there for so many years.
Yes, he would start with it. He could at least hear its--ticking and that would maybe help him clear his mind a bit. He quickly got his tools and he was sure it would need oiling on all its cogs, gears and he was sure the pendulum needed replaced.
He could only stand there in shock when he opened the simple pine door to check the pendulum!