An Unexpected Visitor
"Oh my! Oh my!" murmured Hermux Tantamoq as he carefully examined the wristwatch. He had never seen such a beautiful watch so badly treated. The crystal was shattered. The hands were twisted like melted wax. The face was chipped and scratched so badly that the numbers were barely legible.
The young mouse drummed the countertop with her sharp nails.
"Please get this repaired immediately," she said in a rush. "It must keep perfect time. Perfect. Nothing less!"
Hermux removed his eyepiece and stared at his impatient new customer.
Her face was set in a sharp frown, but it was such a jolly bright face that the frown looked out of place. She wore no make-up. Just her natural fur. A dark glossy brown. She had on a red cap with a bright green feather in its brim, a jaunty, checked scarf, and a somewhat worn-looking leather flight jacket.
From the depths of her shoulder bag she withdrew a small case. From that she removed a violet-tinted business card which she presented to Hermux with a flourish.
"Please send the bill to this address."
Ms. Linka Perflinger
Adventuress, Daredevil and Aviatrix
Bold Feats of Nerve and Verve
On Land and In the Air
#3 Pickdorndle Lane
Hermux placed the wristwatch carefully on the velvet tray and studied the card.
"This watch is very nearly ruined, Ms. Perflinger. It will take a miracle to fix it completely," he told her in his most serious voice. "Of course," he added with a note of pride, "I am accustomed to performing such miracles. When do you need it done?"
"Why this afternoon of course! Time is money. I can't afford to be without time for an entire day!"
"My dear Ms. Perflinger, I'm afraid it is quite impossible that I fix it today. To begin with, there is Cladenda Noddem's grandfather clock. I shall have to make an entirely new trindle-spring for it from scratch. Then there is Bratchlin Weffup's pocket watch which I promised him a week ago. He's bent the winding stem as crooked as a turnip. And I shall have to pound it out straight. And grind it. And polish it smooth again. And then there's your watch Ms. Perflinger! What a shock to see such a beautiful watch as this in such a dreadful state of disrepair. What on earth has happened?"
"Occupational hazard. That's all!" she said brusquely. "I'm not at liberty to say more. But I will say this. The profession of adventuress, which I follow, appears to operate on whim and derring-do, but it is based almost entirely on precision timing. On careful planning. And meticulous execution. This watch that you see in its broken and battered state is as much a part of me as my own pulse. I can assure you that I took every possible precaution to avoid this disagreeable damage. And I can also assure you that I need it keeping perfect time in order to return to my work. And that said, when can you have it fixed?"
Hermux replaced his eyepiece and studied the watch. "Naturally I shall have to replace the crystal."
"Naturally," responded Ms. Perflinger.
"Of course, I shall have to replace the twisted hands," continued Hermux.
"Of course," answered Ms. Perflinger.
"I will undoubtedly have to resurface the face and re-paint the numbers," added Hermux. "And I will have to do that with the smallest paint brush imaginable."
"Undoubtedly," said Ms. Perflinger.
"And most definitely the mechanism will have to be cleaned, and oiled and adjusted at the very least," he concluded.
"Most definitely," agreed Ms. Perflinger.
"Perhaps late tomorrow morning, if this is indeed, an emergency."
"An emergency of the most compelling sort," murmured Ms. Perflinger gratefully.
Hermux filled out the repair tag in his careful small handwriting. He tied it securely to the watch. Then he tore off the receipt and handed it to Ms. Perflinger.
Copyright 2000 Michael Hoeye. All rights reserved.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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