Time Due, Time Done
by Jason Visconti

Jeff Anderson loved clocks. He loved counting them, he loved forgetting them, he loved the way they watched him in his favorite restaurants. When Jeff found himself in prison, he was amazed how his imagination would soothe him with his able levers and devices, tough love, he’d remind himself. And this is how it would start. He would create a mental picture of his hands--or more precisely, his fingers, like strumming the strings of an old, favorite guitar. Initial tinkering was a tender process that needed to be done privately, preferably where it was darkest; so in the dark, Jeff Anderson would go following one malignance or another; into that room of destitution to feed all those levers and devices, swing a pendulum back and forth in his brain until his own intellect made him nauseous. When the moon came up, he’d dream dreams of pink blue horizons where time left a soft, kind shell of its reasoning.

After three months of served time, the warmth of the shell transcended into a gorgeous equation. That equation has no use for standard integers. It barely shone in existence. It was like no clockwork Jeff had ever known; albeit only lightening and tightening of chords, they pressed like a white light straining the habitat of his mind, now a field’s journey. Soon it became a struggle back to solitary confinement each night, and each night became a longer and longer turmoil inside his virtual clock.

Approximately one year since Jeff’s incarceration he did something that would make his nimble fingers sweat,… he became a human time bomb, a grandfather clock that would ring off mentally every midnight. He had to rewire something, or something had to rewire him, he wasn’t sure which… all he knew is he lost all pride and joy in clock making. What is the time? he would ask himself, and quickly fall faint, do you imagine a huge grandfather clock crashing? Does it ring a bell? he’d whispered past the prison guards. When a man breaks a virtual clock the ringing is different. Every failure reckoned comes on time. The more intricate the design, the harder the crash. So if a man decides to, let’s say, intersect red wire with green, isn’t the old story true--that anything may happen?

After fifteen months, Jeff Anderson found himself transformed into single digits. Counting like a motorcycle rider gauging traffic signs in advance, he continued to fine-tune the functions of time until it gave him steady migraines that would last all day. He’d misuse one gadget so badly he wished that it had stayed in the physical world. "Time would creep down his spine" was his favorite journal entry. He thought he could kid himself with his trite rhyme and silly doodles; all clocks of course, big and small, sketched or painted. It came to the point where Jeff didn’t want to know the time. Of course, that’s impossible when time stands out alone during meals. Nine, twelve, and six, that’s old history. All the other inmates felt the same. And ten o’clock to fall asleep.

The truth is, all the inmates owned internal clocks they took to beds with them. Some were just better wired than others. Some couldn’t summon the electricity from the heart. Others, like Jeff Anderson‘s, made pure trap designs that could kill the time away, literally, in one second. Still others go barely noticeable at all; from wristwatches to alarm clocks, back to that one on Jeff’s kitchen wall.

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