The Old Grandfather Clock

I paid a visit to a friend I hadn’t seen in years. She was married now, and I’d never met her husband.

They both greeted me at the door. We went inside for some whiskey and to reminisce about old times.

Her husband turned out to be quite agreeable. As the whiskey bottle drained, we came to the topic of the grandfather clock I’d walked by on the way in.

Turns out the Grandfather Clock was passed down to Leah’s husband Jim from his father.

Leah’s face lit up. “There’s a really interesting story about that clock.”

“It’s a doozie.” Jim said.

My heart sank. You know the feeling when you need to leave, but there’s one last story? I was sure it was going to be one of those.

“But first I need to tell you the part where Jim paid the guy his fee up front, before even moving the clock.” she said.

“Again?” Jim said.

I laughed, having been there myself. “And why would anyone do that?”

“Exactly!” she said. “Anyway, four months later, Jim had to help the professional clock guy — after paying him! — move the clock, and they dropped it.”

I looked at the anguish on Jim’s face. “You damaged the movement?”

Jim winced. “Yes, and I also hurt my leg.” he said.

“But that’s not all!” she said. “I was in the back of the house and heard the guy tell Jim it was going to cost an extra $70 to get it running again.”

I glanced at Jim. His face was buried in his hands. I took another sip of whiskey.

“When I heard that, I came running, fuming, from the back of the house and confronted him. I was so angry!” she said.

I interrupted. “And he died?”

“Yes! He collapsed right there on the steps! But, he didn’t die yet.”

I’d meant it as a joke. Now the story was getting interesting.

“Leah called 911.” Jim said.

“Yes, I called 911 and they said to give him CPR.” she said.

“So you saved his life? He died in the hospital?” I asked.

“Um, not exactly.”

“His assistant was with him.” Jim said.

Leah paused for a few seconds. “Assistant yes, but also his partner.”

“Partner?” I asked.

“Partner, lover, boyfriend…” she said. “I turned to have him do CPR, but the 911 operator said ‘No, I want you to do it.’”

“And?” I asked.

“I was mortified, but I did it.” she said.

“The paramedics arrived and took over.” Jim said. “It was too late. He was dead.”

I refreshed my whiskey and glanced down the hall at the killer Grandfather Clock. “Wow. That is quite a story.”

“It’s not the end.” she said.

“Oh, it gets better.” Jim said.

I tipped back in my chair and took a sip. “Better?” I asked.

“Yes!” she said. “After the paramedics took him away, his partner realized their truck keys were in the guy’s pocket!”

I dropped my chair back to the floor and leaned forward in disbelief. “What? How?” I said.

“I drove his assistant to the ER.” Jim said.

Confident this was the last twist to the macabre story, I stood up to leave.

Leah looked up sheepishly. “There’s more.”

Jim nodded in agreement. I sat back down and drained the rest of the whiskey bottle between the three of us.

“We took cookies to them the next day.” Jim said. “Turns out he was already dead when they arrived. By law, they were supposed to leave and have the coroner come.”

“Yes.” Leah said. “But the paramedics didn’t want to further traumatize our children, so they took him.”

I stood up again. “Well, that’s one of the craziest stories I’ve ever heard.”

“I haven’t told you the creepy part.” she said. “Their truck had a bumper sticker…”

“What did it say?” I asked

“Grim Reaper.” she said.

“Do you have a back door?” I asked. “I don’t want to be anywhere near that clock!”

They laughed. It was good to see her and meet Jim. The whiskey bottle empty, I walked out cautiously past the killer Grandfather Clock, giving myself the sign of The Cross multiple times.

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