Copyright 2017 Mario V. Farina
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
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Mario V. Farina
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The watch had belonged to Aunt Hattie for uncountable years. It was not much to look at, a Pocket Ben made by Westclox around 1920, but she believed it to be a lucky watch. She believed that, so long as ticked, it would protect the owner from death! My aunt was 98 when she died, and the watch was on the end table next to her bed at the hospital. Her death was unexpected; she had just been taken out of the ICU that very morning. The watch had stopped and it was sadly discovered that no one in the family had thought to keep it wound!
No one is sure exactly how it happened, but the watch fell into the possession of her nephew Jeffrey Waldron. He obsessed over it. He kept it close no matter where he went, not matter what he was doing. He slept with the watch under his pillow. The first thing he did when he rose from his bed was wind it to the edge of being fully wound but, not a smidgen more. One time when he was hospitalized to have a bypass done, he had insisted that the watch be located close to him in the operation room during the time that the procedure was being done. The operation was major but routine. At no time had Jeffrey been in peril of death, but he ascribed this survival to the protection his Pocket Ben.
A year later his heart suffered a bout of ventricular fibrillation. Fortunately, the event occurred in the office where he worked. There were first-responders there who were trained in emergency care. There was a defibrillator mounted on a wall available for instant use. This device was used by the first-responders to save Jeffrey’s life.
Some months later, Jeffrey was mugged while on a business trip to a large city. He was not injured but was robbed of his wedding ring, wallet, and two watches. So far as Jeffrey was concerned, his greatest loss was not the wallet or the Omega watch but the Pocket Ben which he had been carrying on his person. He reported the event to the police, and though he attempted to impress upon them the importance of the watch, it was never recovered. During the next several months, Jeffrey’s health dramatically declined. Sadly, he died in his sleep from a massive heart attack on a Saturday in July.
His wife, Effie, never gave up trying to retrieve the watch. She believed, as Jeffrey had, that it had special powers. She visited the city where the mugging had occurred and visited the many pawn shops there in the slim hope that she might find the watch. These efforts failed but, imagine her astonishment, when one day she searched Ebay for Pocket Bens by Westclox and saw the exact picture that you now see on the cover of this book. It was being offered as a collector’s item for a starting bid of $75. She placed a bid and was prepared to carry her bidding to the stratosphere if she had to. No one raised her bid and she received it through the mail in a package soon after she had paid for it with Paypal.
Effie’s joy knew no bounds. It began ticking as soon as she received it. She placed it on a small utility cabinet near her bed and watched over it like a hen guarding her new-born brood of chicks. She reported her good fortune to the police and they initiated an investigation concerning how it had come to be offered on Ebay. The investigating led to the arrest and conviction of the thug who had stolen it from Jeffrey. The Morning Globe got wind of the development and ran a feature story about it on a Sunday Edition. The newspaper showed pictures of Effie and Jeffrey and emphasized that the couple believed this watch would keep them from dying indefinitely. The headline for the special feature, in bold print, was, “Watch Of Life Recovered!”
It required several weeks for the notoriety that Effie had gained to subside. One day her doorbell rang, and when she opened the door, found two large, clean-shaven, well-dressed young men waiting.
“Are you Effie McMadden,” one of the men asked while, at the same time displaying an open wallet with an identification card inside.
Shaken by the impressive appearance of the men, she responded, “yes, what . . .”
“We’re sorry to bother you,” said one of the men. “We’re from the Secret Service and have come on official business. I’m Tim Gordon, My partner is Bill Snyder.”
“What’s wrong, have I done anything,” she managed to exclaim?
“Oh, no, no, nothing like that,” said the man. “May we come in?”
“Of course, of course, let’s go into the living room.”
She led the way and indicated comfortable places for them to sit. “I’m a little frightened to see you here,” she admitted, as she, herself, sat in another chair.
“Nothing to be frightened about,” suggested Tim. “Were here on a matter of great importance, and hope that you will be able to help us!”
“How can I help the Secret Service?” responded Effie, obviously awed.
“We understand you are in possession of an old Westclox watch,” said the agent.
“I am, indeed,” she said.
“Would you mind showing it to us?”
“No, not at all. Wait a moment.”
Effie left the room, and was gone less than a minute. She was holding Pocket Ben in her hand when she returned. She handed it to Tim. “Here it is.”
The agent held the watch gingerly in his hand, turned it around and around, then, held it out for Bill to see. “Real old, isn’t it,” he commented to Effie.
“Yes, it’s been handed down for a long time. We have valued it greatly,” she said.
“Ms. McFadden, this watch has been declared by the President of the United States, to be a National Treasure,” said Tim!
“The President of the United States,” Effie repeated, her voice revealing the awe that she felt. “The President knows about this watch?”
“I’m sorry to have to tell you that this watch belongs to the people of America. I’ll have to take it with me!”
“I’m sorry too,” said Bill Snyder.
“This comes as a great shock,” objected Effie. “It’s been in the family a long time. It means a lot to me. I’ve never thought of it as being very valuable in terms of money.”
“The value in terms of money is not the issue,” replied Tim. “This watch, which looks so ordinary, is now believed, by the President, that it has the ability to keep people alive so long as it is in their possession and is ticking. You can understand that a President of the country would believe that this is an invaluable item, and should serve in the interests of the country that we all love. I know this represents a great sacrifice to you, and we cannot pay you for it, but the President, and the two of us hope you understand that you must give it up for the general good!”
“You know, of course, what this means to me! I believe, as the president does, that this watch can keep me alive to whichever age I wish. Surely, you understand, why I am reluctant to give it up!”
“Bill is a veteran of the armed services, and I believe he can comment better than I can on that point.” He turned to his partner, and said, “Bill, what would be your response to what Ms. McFadden has just said.”
“It’s very simple, Ms. McFadden,” he began. “In many ways, we are called to serve our country in the best way we can. We are calling upon you to make a sacrifice, the same kind that so many patriots in the service have made. Many died for our country. In a sense, we are asking you to do the same thing. You will receive no glory for it. There is no medal for what you will be doing. But you will know, and your heart, that it was the right thing to do for the country.”
Effie didn’t speak for several seconds. Then she said, “I do this, willingly, and happily. For me, to live to and indefinitely long age, shrinks in importance, with the life of a president. Take the watch with my blessing.”
The two men left. The Pocket Ben was no longer in Effie’s possession. She sat in the living room for several minutes reviewing the implications of what had just happened. Then she stood, went into the kitchen, and made herself a cup of tea.
Almost two years later, there was an attempted assassination of the President in Washington DC as he was exiting from the same hotel where a previous president had been attacked. He was rushed to the same hospital. Happily, he survived. It appears that the bullet meant for the heart of the president had been deflected from its deadly course by an old watch that he had been wearing in the breast pocket of his suit coat. The watch, had been destroyed.
The story was reported in all the newspapers of the land. It was no better told in any paper than the Morning Globe which began with the headline, “Watch Of Life, Previously Owned By Local Resident, Saves Life of President.” Effie clipped the story out of the paper and placed it into her photo album.
better than the way that the morning globe reported it. It’s blazing