Alan found his seven-year-old son Mark busy at the kitchen table. "What are you up to?" he asked.
"I wanna see how this works." There in front of the boy were gears and other things that were all that remained of a wind-up alarm clock.
Alan picked up the clock face, which looked familiar. "You got this apart all by yourself?" Mark nodded proudly. "Good for you. Where did you find it?"
"In the toy box in the den."
Clock in the toy box, Alan wondered. Then he remembered. "Why, this is your old tell-time clock! You learned how to read the time with it."
Mark looked concerned. "Is that okay?"
Alan chuckled. "Yes, it's fine. No-one's been using it. But you'll never be able to see how it works unless you can put it back together."
Mark looked doubtfully at the pieces, then said emphatically, "I'm gonna do it, you'll see."
"Alright; but, don't be too disappointed if it's too hard for you." Alan put the clock face back on the table and returned to his yard work.
As Alan came back into the house later, the lawn mowing done, he was greeted by Mark's worried face.
"Dad, I can't fix it. Can you help me?"
"Well, I suppose I can see what I can do." He sat down beside his son and tried a couple of things before saying, "I'm sorry, Mark; but, this is just like Humpty Dumpty."
"Aw." Mark scowled at a couple of gears lying on the table in front of him. "What can I do?"
"You really want to learn how a clock works, don't you?"
"Hmm. I know! We can go yard-saling on Saturday. Maybe someone will have one they want to get rid of. How's that sound?"
"Yeah! Cool! I'm gonna find a clock!"
Saturday morning, Alan had to try and calm his wild colt down enough to at least get some breakfast into him before they took off. Afterwards, at their first stop, Mark was out of the van like a shot. He scanned all of the tables diligently and poked in all of the boxes under the tables, to no avail.
"They don't have any," he said to his father, disappointed.
"Don't worry." Alan pulled out a page of newspaper. "There's plenty more around town today. Let's try another one."
Some two hours later, Alan was getting heartily sick of the whole thing; but, he knew he couldn't give up as long as Mark had any hope. "Let's see," he said to his son as he scanned the page, "There's still a couple left." He read the address. "This one's just out in the country. Get in and let's get it done."
Mark climbed wearily into his seat and latched the seatbelt.
They soon pulled into the long laneway and drove until they got to a large shed with tables out front covered in clothes and housewares.
Mark peered out of the window. "I don't see one." There was the hint of a tremble in his voice.
"Well, let's go look anyway. There might be one hiding. You never know." Alan wished he felt as optimistic as his words sounded.
Mark went over the display thoroughly, but came up empty.
The old man who was hosting the sale had noticed his determined look from where he sat in the doorway of the shed. He stood up stiffly and came around to where the boy was lifting and pushing aside some toys. "Looking for something in particular, Sonny?" he asked in a friendly tone.
"Yeah, a clock." Mark pointed at an electric clock on the table behind him. "Not like that. A wind-up one."
"A wind-up one, huh. Hmm. Wait here." He turned and shuffled off into the house, returning a couple of minutes later with an alarm clock with big brass bells on the top. "Does it have to work? Because this hasn't worked in twenty years. I was going to pitch it along with whatever we didn't sell here."
Mark's eyes lit up. "Yeah!" He turned to his father. "Can I have it, Dad?"
"Are you kidding?" Alan asked rhetorically.
Back at the kitchen table later, Alan said, "You'll have to open it if we're going to find out how it works."
Mark picked up the screwdriver and attacked.
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