The shadows casted by the trees and light poles stretched across the street, and crawled up the adjacent brick buildings, like hands of a giant sundial. Scott Frankton had no doubt it was a sort of ill humor by God. He had seen it fit to stop Scott's wristwatch on what was soon to be the greatest day of his life. It was important to know the time. Punctuality meant a lot to Scott. Had Scott not been a godly man, he may have had a few ill words to share on the whole ordeal about his wristwatch. Luckily, he was a godly man, tried and true.
Considered awkward by many, it was not in Scott's nature to start a conversation with a random stranger. His situation, however, forced him to do just that. Without his wristwatch, Scott could not know the time, and he most certainly needed to know the time, because today was his big day. Unfortunately, the only solution was to ask a stranger for the time. A seemingly simply task for most, but for him it was a trial by fire. If you were to ask him why it was so difficult, he could not have given any one answer. It simply was.
Scott repeated the question over in his head as made his way to the university, making sure he spoke clearly and politely. He began scanning the crowd ahead of him on the sidewalk, trying to decide which would be the most appropriate to ask. He was just about to ask an old man leaning against the window of a tobacco store when he saw a beautiful young lady round the corner. Scott figured if he had to speak to someone, he would prefer it be a pretty lady over and old man, so he continued walking, towards the lady.
Scott couldn't help but notice her beautiful red hair, and the matching red gems about her. If today had not filled with him such moral, he more than likely would not have had the courage to speak to such a person. He continued walking towards her, making his way through the other people standing in his way, who now were no more than frustrating obstacles. Excuse me, Ma'am. Would you happen to have the time? he thought, over and over. The university and his wristwatch were forgotten. Nothing existed but his task at hand. When he finally approached her, she turned and locked eyes with him...
And he forgot everything.
“Yes? Can I help you?” The ladies voice was a pitch as beautiful as her face. Polite and dignified, yet strong and full of emotion.
“Oh, um,” was all Scott could say. His mind was blank. Surely he had a reason for approaching this woman?
“This is not about Daniel, is it? If it is, please just leave me alone.”
“No, um, what?” Scott's voice was as unsteady as his hands. “Who is Daniel? No, no. The time. I just need to know the time. Do you happen to have a watch? I have an important date soon, and I need to know the time, please. Ma'am,” he blurted. Why oh why had he chosen to spoke to such a pretty lady? She was sure to be offended by his manner. What a terrible stain on his wonderful day this had been! He was expecting to get slapped when she started to laugh.
He was entirely confused when a man bumped into him, knocking his briefcase from his hand, and spilling it's content about the sidewalk. His speech! It was being blown about and walked upon! Panic over took him as he dropped to the ground, grabbing and shuffling about try to regain every page. He then realized the woman was picking pages up as well.
“Oh, I am truly sorry! I have been having a rather hard week, and it seems I have become quite paranoid because of it.. Please, forgive me.” She handed him the remaining pages, and offered her hand.
Scott packed all the papers into his briefcase and stared dumbly at the extended offer. He had never shook a ladies hand before, and for a moment considered ignoring it all together, but before he had even realized it, the handshake was done and over with.
“My name is Jane, pleased to meet you. If you will wait just a moment, I will get you the time.” Jane began rummaging through her small hand bang, and after what seemed hours, pulled out a small golden pocket watch. “Here we are! The time is a quarter past nine,” she said with a smile.
Scott's sign of relief must of shown, because her smile only broadened as he said, “Splendid! I have plenty of time to reach the university! I was so worried that it was much later than that, I must have confused myself. Of course it is only nine,” he declared with an exaggerated exhale through the nose. “Thank you so much, and sorry for the confusion.” He was beginning to notice just how beautiful she really was all over again, now that his worries had been placated.
“Oh not at all, it was entirely my fault for assuming you were one of the men looking for my brother, Daniel. He's in a bit of trouble you see, and quite good at hiding, which means all the shady people he works with come looking for me to snitch him out.” A thousand mile stare took over her face as she said, “I get quite worried about him some times. He's going to get himself killed if he keeps it up like this.” The last of it was hardly a whisper. As her lively faced returned, she returned her gaze on Scott, who was quite clearly confused by this point. “Now I have gone and put my troubles into your hands, haven't I? Sorry,” and after a short pause, “again!”
Scott could not think of anything else to say but, “Not at all. It is always nice to have an extra pair of ears willing to listen to us when things get difficult. It is only natural. I completely understand, and you need not apologize for anything.” The smile on her face returned, and told Scott he had said the right thing. She really was beautiful.
“I believe I should have met you a good deal sooner! Though I still do not know your name.”
“Scott!” It was practically a yell. How could he not have given his name? How rude! How inconsiderably ignorant! Dismay washed over his face once again.
“Well, nice to meet you, Scott,” she said, saying his name in a higher tone just as he had, mocking him in a light humored way. “We've made a bit of a blunder of this introduction, if you don't mind me saying so. Would you care to patch things up over a cup of tea? My sister owns a little shop just around the corner. I was headed there just now, and would love to show you it, if you have the time.” She waved her hand off down a street adjacent to their current location.
After thinking it over a moment, Scott admitted, “I would love too.” He had plenty of time.
Scott followed Jane as she walked across the street and down a side walk. It was in the terribly wrong direction, as he was headed to the university, but the opportunity of having a nice cup of tea with this beautiful lady was too good of an offer to pass up. After all, he did need to start walking more.
Just when Scott began to worry about just how far they were walking, Jane turned and pointed. “Here we are! This is her place, nice isn't it?” She fanned her hands in an over dramatic fashion.
Scott looked at the little restaurant and saw nothing in particular he found exceedingly nice, but he said, “Yes, it is quite nice. I believe I may have been here a few times before, actually.”
After sitting down and talking for quite some time, he began to find out he had a good deal in common with her. She was even interested in his speech about Galileo Galilei's bold new theories describing the universe, the one he was going to give later that day to the university professors. To think, out of the hundreds of people he had seen that morning, he would pick a beautiful, interesting young lady who not only understood the magnitude of Galileo's theories, but agreed with them. It was simply unprecedented. With the exception of his wristwatch, it had been an exceedingly interesting day, and the sun had not even reached noon!
Scott realized an awkward silence had settled while he had been so deep in thought, and was about to say something when a look of terror took Jane's face. She stood up abruptly, rocking the dishes about the table violently. “I'm sorry, Scott. I must go immediately. It was pleasant meeting you, have a nice day,” and with that she turned and began walking into the crowd.
There had been no time to think, so Scott simply acted. He rose up and followed after her, leaving his briefcase and unpaid meal behind. He weaved in and out of bodies as he pursued the woman with the red hair. She was already vanishing into the sea of suits and dresses. The thought of losing her so quickly and abruptly was more than Scott was ready to accept. A panic over took him when he realized that he might never see her again. He began pushing his way through the crowd, good manners long forgotten. Curses and squeals buzzed about him, though entirely lost to his ears.
He had nearly given up hope when he saw here standing next to a beggar. The man was dressed in rags, and had stains about his clothes. His hair was greasy and poorly kept. Why would she talk to anyone like that? Scott wondered. He approached her, hands extended, and said, “Jane! Why on earth did you have to leave so suddenly, I was afraid you might...” He felt the knife enter his stomach.
“Daniel, no! Noooo!” Jane screamed. He beautiful face, which once held a smile that reached ear to ear, was covered in tears.
Scott looked down, and saw the man holding the knife by the handle, with the blade deep into his abdomen. He could not speak.
“I told you to leave her alone, you bastards,” the man said. His tone was filled with hate and rage. It rasped and rang deep in Scott's ears.
Scott found himself watching the man pull the knife from his belly, only to stab him again. And again. And again. He didn't feel any of them like he had felt the first. The whole situation was wrong. He couldn't die now. He had too many important things to do. The university was awaiting his speech about Galileo. Jane needed comforting, he was sure of it. She was crying, and he didn't want her to cry.
The man, presumably Daniel, pushed Scott to the ground, sat on his shoulder, and grabbed his arm. He ripped off Scott's golden ring, and his broken wristwatch. After seeing the wristwatch was no longer functioning, he tossed it onto the ground near Scott's body, and stormed off past Jane and into the crowd. He yelled something back to Jane, to which she replied. Scott couldn't make out what they had said. He wanted to see Jane, and tell her everything was going to be okay, but his eyes were no longer focusing correctly. He lost sight of her in the crowd gathering around his body. He tried screaming for her, but instead of her name, only blood came out of his mouth.
A man in the gathering crowd accidentally kicked Scott's wrist watch closer to his head.
Scott moved his hand to pick up the device, but found he barely had the strength to move his arm, let alone the precision to move his fingers, so he simply scooted it toward his face with the back of his hand. He blinked the tears out of his eyes so he could see what time it was... what time he died, to be exact, only to discover his wristwatch was broken still. His last thought before succumbing to the darkness was not of Jane, or of his speech about the universe, but rather his wristwatch, and how he should probably get it fixed soon. It was important to know the time.