Do You Have Some Time?
Mary Anne Walters
He looked down at the gold Rolex on his wrist. The time was 1:00, Eastern Standard Time. He thought, once again, that there is never enough time.
"Excuse me, do you have some time?" A simple question.
She was tiny and pert looking, and very well-dressed. She was also in a hurry. There was no time to stop and chat. With an irritated glance at her watch she said, "Yes, it's 1:00," and went to move on.
"No, no, no. I didn't say 'Do you have the time.' I said 'Do you have some time." You see, I've run out and need some more."
Her eyes glazed over, and the look on her face was one that most people save for use only when they are required to deal with a child, a fool, or a lunatic. "I'm sorry, I'm in a hurry. I have no time for this."
With that, she scurried off, like a tiny, pert looking rat in a maze, rushing nowhere, but determined to get there on time nonetheless.
He sighed. He walked a block more. Turning, his eyes scanned the crowd. They were all rushing. But, there, in the shadow of a building, was a young man in jeans and a tee shirt. The T-shirt said IF YOU HAVE THE MONEY, I HAVE THE TIME. Quickly, he walked over to the young man and said, "I have the money. Do you have some time for me?"
"Sure, dude. I got all the time in the world." The boys vapid face was surrounded by stringy blond hair. There was a bit of fuzz on his upper lip. The boy grinned, but it looked more like a leer to the man, who cringed.
"While I doubt you do, in fact, have all the time in the world, I would like to avail myself of some of the time you do have. You see, I seem to have run out of time myself, and I could use a little more. So, if you will tell me how much you charge for your time, it will be easy for me to compute what amount of money I will need to acquire the amount of time I desire. I have found that 24 hours in a day is just not enough--I, myself, would prefer about 32 hours..." As he spoke, he say the boy's leering smile turn to a scowl.
"Buzz off, buddy. One thing for damn sure is that I got no time for weirdos like you!" The boy sauntered away and resumed his languid pose in another shadowy corner, where he was soon approached by a timid little man with a bald head, glasses sliding off the end of his nose, and the look of a rabbit gathering the courage to sneak under the fence into the cabbage patch.
He sighed again, heavier. Once more, he scanned the crowd. He needed someone with time to spare, but who understood the importance and the value of time. People in a hurry had no time to spare. People who seemed to have an abundance of time, like the boy, were somewhat unbalanced. He searched for the perfect mix.
There, on a park bench, was an older man, reading. He wasn't reading a book (took too much time) or a magazine, but was reading the newspaper--and not just the headlines, either. Aha! Could this be the one? He approached slowly.
"Excuse me, sir. Do you have some time?"
The man on the bench was wearing a rather wide, garishly patterned, luridly colored tie. His suit was on the dusty side of grey, made of some thick material that gave off a damp-closet smell. He looked up, and answered in a booming voice, "Sure, the time is 1:24."
NO, No, No, NO! Not THE time, SOME time! I wanted SOME time!"
"Well, there's no time like the present. What time did you want?
"Did you want some of my time? I'm usually a little short of it myself. Hey, maybe I should take some of your time! Heh, heh, heh. Actually, you're in luck. I have some spare time right now. We could spend some time together. And, speaking of time, let me show you some of my samples." The loud man spoke fast, in a machine-gun-like stream of patter. He looked down, reeling from the assault on his senses. The loud man was opening up his briefcase and there within it was a display of watches, all cheap, and all ticking. The hours were wasting away before his very eyes. With a look of horror, he flung a hand up over his face, as if to ward off a blow, and blocked the sight from his eyes. He recoiled, and looked for a way to escape this wretched man.
"Wait! Don't go! My bus is late. Stick around for a while--we can kill some time together."
That was it. The final straw. He spun on his heels and fled.
The bus driver was only trying to make up for lost time. That broken traffic light put him way off schedule. Now, time was of the essence. He had to be on time--not early, not late. His record was one of the best, and he was proud of it. And, he was mad at the delay that had robbed him of the precious minutes and had made him late. With all these thoughts on his mind, it was no wonder he never saw the well-dressed, wild-eyed, and generally harried looking man that dashed out in front of the bus. By the time he realized, it was too late.
"Shit! Now I'll never get back on schedule!" This thought was echoed by the majority of the people on the bus, to include the tiny, pert, well-dressed woman who got on at the last stop, as well as by the timid, balding man in the car behind the bus (whose passenger was a dirty, languid blond boy, his lip curled into a leer).
A loud and damp smelling man stepped off the curb and walked over to where the previously well-dressed (but now considerably rumpled) man lay, sprawled in the street, still as a stone. He reached down and took the gold Rolex of the now-broken wrist. The bus driver walked over, unsure whether he should attempt to stop this ghoulish act.
"Don't worry," the loud man assured the bus driver, "I saw the whole thing--this guy stole one of my samples, then ran out into the street, right in front of you. That's what happened, all right." The loud man replaced the gold watch with a cheap imitation, and let the wrist drop back to the pavement. "That's what I'll tell the police." He winked a particularly nasty wink at the bus driver, who breathed a sigh of relief nonetheless. The loud man laughed.
"I guess his time ran out, hey buddy?"
Mary Anne Walters
InterText Copyright © 1991-1999 Jason Snell. This story may only be distributed as part of the collected whole of Volume 1, Number 1 of InterText. This story Copyright © 1991 Mary Anne Walters.