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"Oy!" somebody called.
Charlie looked in the direction of the voice and saw two men walking toward him, looking at him. He looked back at the sky and replied, "Oy."
"You the one fixes watches?"
"Yes, I am."
"You think you could fix this one?" Charlie looked at them again and saw that one of them had taken an old watch made by Thomas Fuller out of his pocket. The case was badly dented and most of its silver plating was gone, and the brass underneath was dull. All three of the hands were still there, but Charlie could see that the second hand was not seated, was almost about to fall off, and wouldn't turn anymore if the watch were running. The minute hand was bent.
"You have to talk to my Dad first." Charlie pointed to the front door of the pub. "He runs the pub. First you talk to him. If you make a deal, then I look at the watch."
"Your Dad have another name, besides 'Dad'?"
"Aa... aa... Yeah. His name's Pete. He runs the pub."
"You charge anything for taking the watch apart and looking at it, even if you can't fix it?"
"My Dad... My Dad handles the money." Charlie couldn't understand money. Money had to do with the way people behaved. "But no," Charlie added: "if I don't fix anything, you don't pay anything."
"Awright, cheers," and the two men went behind him and into the pub as Charlie continued to look at the sky. The two pigeons had disappeared from that rooftop. Charlie's father had tried and tried to explain money to him, and Charlie had tried hard to understand, but over and over his mind went numb as he tried to listen, and his father's words made no sense to him. With money there were always deals and discounts and bonuses and such, and Charlie had made no progress in understanding those things. You had to "read people," as his Dad put it, in order to be able to make deals well.
The lovely purple was fading into dark blue in the sky and it was getting colder. He went into the pub just as his father and the two men were walking toward the front door. "Ah, Charlie," his Dad said. "I was just telling these two gents I thought they'd be better off just buying another watch. Gave them the names of some places to look for one. And I said maybe you might have one for sale as well -- ?"
"Not at the moment, Dad."
"I don't mind lookin' at it, Dad?"
"Yeah. Nothin else planned at the moment, and I'm curious what I'll see."
Charlie's Dad said to the men, "I don't want to get your hopes up here. We're talking about five minutes, maybe more."
"Maybe less," Charlie said.
"What do you think?" one of the men said. There was a pause. Charlie was looking at the floor. He wondered whether the men were communicating by looking at each other. Charlie couldn't communicate that way. "Alright," said one of the men. "I could do with a half-pint of that IPA, I think."
Charlie took the watch into his little workshop just off of the pub's main room. Mr Latham had given him a lamp and loupes and tools and parts to bring back home, in addition to those things which he said were now Charlie's at the Latham plant. Mr Latham encouraged Charlie always to use the loupes and to keep whatever he was working on well-lit, whether by sunlight through a window or by a lamp. The loupes and lamps made a huge difference in the ease of working on watches.
Charlie checked the time when he started to work. Ninety seconds later he had many of the Fuller's parts spread across his desk top, and he called for his father. After his Dad had closed the workshop door behind him Charlie said, "It's gonna need seven new parts. I have three of them."
"Right. Hang on." Charlie's Dad popped back out, then very soon he was back and saying, "All right then, Son, put it back together for them. Very polite of you to offer to look at it, but they're going to get another watch."
"Dad, do you want to see if they'll sell it to us?"
"No, Charlie, I do not."
Charlie was disappointed at that, but he put the Fuller back together, seating the second hand so that it would turn properly when the watch was running again, and straightening the bent minute hand.