“My clock quit working,” our great Aunt Rene tells my brother, Jerry.

“Do you want me to get you a new one?” asks Jerry, knowing she would never ask directly. It’s simply not the Southern Belle way, you know.

“Why yes, Darlin’, that would be nice.”

He buys her one that very night, brings it in, and sets it up on her bedside table. It is one of those new-fangled clocks with half of each number on each of the 2 plastic slates that fall down at the appointed time. He shows it to her, staying a while to listen to her marvel at these new-fangled things and ask a hundred times What will they think of next?

The next morning, Jerry emerges from his apartment headed to work when he nearly stumbles over Aunt Rene who’s seated in a ladder-back chair just outside his door, her hands resting on box the clock came. “Is there a problem, Aunt Rene?” he asks in an amazing display of coherency for that time of the morning.

“Yes, Darlin’, there is. I need you to take this clock back to the store and get my money back ’cause this thing is gonna’ kill me. The funeral is gonna’ cost me enough by itself. No use paying to get there, too. I was sleeping good till about 3:00 this morning when this contraption started singing to me. Nearly scared me right into a heart attack. Why, I thought the angels had come for me.”

He returned that clock, and, since her old clock couldn’t be repaired, she used her watch from then on. The Timex watch, you know. She wound the stem first thing every morning and every night at bedtime. That thing took a licking and it kept on ticking till the day the angels came for real.


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