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Keeping Time(x)

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“Hey, babe, whatcha got in that bag?”

“Good afternoon to you, too, Starsk.”

“Aw, come on, Hutch. Don’t be such a --”

“Hey! You wanna know what’s in the bag? You can greet me civilly first.”

“All right, already. So, greetings and salutations, my friend. How have you been faring since we last spoke?”

“Sometimes you’re such an ass. I got a cure for that, you know -- heavy sedation.”

“For you or me? Well, at least it got a laugh outta ya. Feeling better? You should, ‘cause laughter is the best medicine. I know this ‘cause I read that section in the Reader’s Digest with that title. Now what’s in the bag, ya big blond tease?”

“Well, I thought you’d like to have your watch back. One of the paramedics had taken it off you in the ambulance and it got shoved way back in a compartment. He forgot all about it until the unit was out of service for maintenance.”

“Temp Fu? They found Temp Fu? Is she okay? Gimme!”

“What the… Did you name your watch?”

“Of course. Her full name is Tempus Fugit Juniorette. You know, ‘cause you let Senior get blown up.”

“Well, with this on your wrist and the way you drive, time certainly does fly.”

“Hardy-har-har. Now hand her over already, Hutch!”

“Now hold on a minute. I’d say it’s more than okay, but I know you won’t agree.”

“What are you talkin’ about, Blintz? Spill it!”

“Okay, okay. Here. It’s beyond repair, babe. I’m sorry.”

“Shit! She got hurt too!”

“Starsk, are you crying?”

“Nuh-no. Must have some lint or hospital in my eyes.”

“Well, I really am sorry.”

“Thanks, babe. You know, I can’t afford to replace it again. And why is she in this plastic box?”

“Starsk, I’m pretty sure this watch saved your life or at least from another bullet. See how it’s indented and the face shattered? It deflected a bullet, probably while you were reaching for your gun. The bruise on your wrist had faded by the time you were awake enough to notice stuff like that.”

“So that’s why my wrist hurt...”

“Now you know. Anyway, I put it in this display case ‘cause it’s a hero. I wanted to show you first before we decide where to put it.”

“Aw, Hutch, you’re so… weird. But I love ya anyways.”

“That’s so generous and understanding. So where should its new home be?”

“How ‘bout next to the piggy bank on our desk for now? I don’t think I could look at her here. I mean, I love -- loved that watch and it hurts to know how much she suffered. Too bad it wouldn’ta fit in a bottle, though.”

“And you call me weird... Why a bottle?

“Then we coulda had time in a bottle.”

“Are you president of the JIm Croce Fan Club?”

“He’s got a fan club?”

“I don’t think so, but I see you starting one in the near future. So’kay, on our desk it’ll --”

She.”

She’ll go. Happy now?”

“Yeah, I guess. I still don’t have a workin’ watch again and I can’t go shoppin’ for one yet.”

“That’s already been taken care of, buddy. It’s not a Yamamoto Reflux --”

“Reflex.”

“Hmm. Always thought it was ‘reflux,’ because it made my stomach burn the way you adored that collection of gears and crystal.”

“Stop the audition for the Late Show, willya, and gimme my new watch!”

“It’s a --”

“Tudor Submariner! This is… terrific! How the hell did you get this? This model is only available for Navy SEALs.”

“Starsk, how do you know about SEAL watches? Oh, never mind; I really don’t wanna know. You know Glenn Armstrong on SWAT?”

“Yeah, sure. Great guy. Navy vet in the SEALs. We’re always swappin’ stories about our tours. Helluva hand-to-hand combat fighter.”

“He’s in the reserves. Just before he went to San Diego for his two-week stint, he called to ask if he could pick up something special for you at the PX. The paramedic had just given me, uh, Temp Fu the day before, so I suggested a watch. This is what he brought back.”

“This is, well, fuckin’ amazing! A SEAL watch! Hey, Hutch, help me put it on, ‘kay? Still having a little trouble with my right fingers.”

“Looks good, Starsk. Try not to wreck this one.”

“Smartass. So, how much do I owe him? Or you?”

“You don’t owe either of us anything. It’s a get-well-soon gift, you moron.”

“Well, I gotta pay you or Glenn back somehow, Hutch. This must be really pricey.”

“You already have.”

“Huh?”

“You took a licking and kept on ticking.”

the end
November 2020