Everyone deserves their secrets. Those precious possessions that are inherited, or found. Amos Gray is no exception.
In Essex, England 1918 there is a man, or was a man, I should say, for he is now forgotten. Then again there is nothing much to forget, since he’s very forgettable. He’s lived in the same neighborhood ever since he was born and never found reason to leave. Everybody knows him and everyday see him walk to the clockmaker shop, his tweed suit hanging on his tall lean body his rumpled shirt and moss green tie that always has a tea stain, his white hair looked like he’d put his finger in a light socket, but what everyone remembered was his face. Their was a still peace that enveloped him his grey blue eyes always seemed to look into your soul. The adults of the neighborhood all grew up with “old Amos” he never changed since their childhood. And yet, there was something mysterious about him, a piece no one knew that would explain everything unknown about Amos Grey.
By this time of the morning Amos is in his shop and goes about the morning business. He puts the open sign on and walks to his workroom in the very back. It’s a right mess of a room, springs, dials, grooves and other such parts that make up clocks and watches, but Amos likes it that way. Amos inherited the shop from his father who had opened it many years ago. His father was always fascinated my machinery and would create gadgets and machines that were far beyond his time. He instilled in his son a love of mechanics, inventing and the thrill of creating the impossible. But as years went by Amos stopped his tinkering and concentrated on clocks. However, there had always been rumor that Amos had taken up tinkering again, working late into the night on something extraordinary but it was just a rumor and nothing more.
They day went by as usual, Amos manned the shop talking to customers and fixing watches under his green lamp, but something out of the ordinary soon was to happen. At 4:00 all the clocks in the shop began to chime and ring in a spasmodic symphony. Amos paid no mind it was all white noise to him now, he just kept on with his work until a gruff voice said “How can you hear this every hour and not go mad!” Amos had come to recognize every voice in the neighborhood and this voice was alien to him, yet he didn’t look up. Instead he said “You are wrong young man, in the years I’ve worked here I’ve never thought of this as noise but the voice of old friends in conversation.” Amos then got up and went to the front desk to find two British soldiers standing regemently in the doorway of the store. There were many soldiers on leave around the neighborhood lately, Amos surveyed them over his round tortoiseshell glasses taking in their uniforms and stature. Both were young men, no more than twenty yet their faces were as hard as fifty year old men who had seen the world and were changed by it. Such was the face of a soldier. “How may I help you?” Said the clockmaker calmly. “Are you Amos Grey?” the first soldier enquired. The old man nodded, chuckling. ” I should be I’ve occupied his body the last 78 years.” Unamused the soldier said ” Mr. Grey we have had reports that you have created a device that could be used for military purposes.” Amos Grey, unfazed asked “And what is this monumental device that I have created?”
“We are unsure about its direct use but the British government is aware that you have created a type of machine that will aid the Allies during this time.”
“If you are unsure of its use than how do you know it will help you?”
“It is known that a one time your father was commissioned by the British military to create something that would change the face of war, unfortunately the device was to unknown and advanced to be used and thus was marked a failure. However we’ve gotten reports that you’ve brought back this device, in the attempt to refine it, and so we must commandeer the device for military purposes.”
Amos was quiet for a long time, behind the soldiers the sun began to set shadowing their faces making them mere outlines. As the soldiers spoke Amos Grey’s face never changed his gaze solid. ” I am sorry, I cannot help you. What you are suggesting is quite extreme, it is true that my father and I invented the occasional toy but this is beyond what my father was capable of.” Stoneily, the first soldier turned toward the young foot soldier behind him and muttered something. The young soldier than nodded and left standing in front of the shop. The old clockmaker and the young soldier were now alone gazing at the other, finally the young man leaned forward and whispered ” Mr. Grey we are at war and this device will be what we need to turn the tide. It would be appreciated if you’d coöperate and give the device. If you do not we will be forced to search your store.” Amos leaned in and whispered back ” If you do you will become a fool, for your search will revel nothing. You have promise young man, do not waste your efforts on gossip and an old man with a long dead father and an even older invention. You yourself said it was a failure, by now this device would be rust. Even a clockmaker has limits on what he can do. We are not God.” The soldier straightened himself and looked at the man for a time. He then nodded curtly saying ” I’m sorry for wasting your time sir.” and left. When he stepped out the foot soldier looked at him, and asked what happened and if they would return later. “No, the soldier said, ‘the man knows nothing there’s nothing more we can do.” and they left.
Inside the store Amos stood alone for a long time surrounded by his clocks. The evening transformed into the hues of sunset and shadows were beginning to form. The old man sighed and went to his workroom were he began to boil water for tea. Amos then opened the drawer of his desk and in the back took out something wrapped in an old handkerchief, he unwrapped it and looked at the small device, it was simple but powerful, too powerful. “Not yet.” Thought Amos Grey. He smiled slightly as he put it back, shut the drawer and locked it. After all everyone deserves their secrets.