|Posted on June 18, 2014 at 9:50 PM|
(For my schoolmates.)
Once upon a time, there was a man named Dr. John who owned a golden clock tower. He was very proud of his clock tower, and not undeservingly so: it was breathtakingly majestic, and its gold-gilt walls made it shine brilliantly during the day. It was the tallest clock tower in all the land.
"Dr. John's clock tower is so fine and inspiring!" said the public. "Among all the clock towers that ever existed, it must be in the top 3 percent. The man is surely doing a service to the nation."
"Hold on," said one man, "the clock on that tower is thirty minutes late."
"Hush you," said Dr. John, who made his horses stomp and stomp around the man until he went away.
Now Dr. John was a man of some importance, and did not have the time to maintain his golden clock tower. All the cleaning and polishing of the tower was handled by a girl named Sophia. For her work, Dr. John paid Sophia in lots of bits of paper, which he said were terribly important and far more valuable than money. Sophia could not agree more: in the cold winter nights, the papers burned better than firewood.
One day while driving about in his golf cart, Dr. John discovered that a part of the clock tower's gold leaf had fallen away. Underneath was the iron scaffolding of the tower, which had grown ugly and rusty with age.
"Sophia, replace that bit of gold leaf," Dr. John said to his assistant. "The gap makes our clock tower look bad."
"But Doctor," said Sophia, "the gold leaf is very expensive, and the gap is three hundred meters above ground."
"If you disobey I shall fire you," said Dr. John, "and you will never get your papers."
Later that day, Sophia bought new gold leaf out of her own pocket, and climbed up the very dangerous height of the clock tower to affix it over the gap. It was difficult because the tower's rusty frame was so uneven, but Sophia managed to get it to stick. Dr. John found her work very pleasing and gave her an extra bit of paper that month.
Some weeks later, Dr. John was in his office preparing monologues, when he looked out the window and noticed another clock tower taller than his own. This one was silver and emerald, and it had a fancy spire on top that had recently been added. The effect was very modern; it made Dr. John's clock tower look old.
"This will not do," said Dr. John to Sophia. "If this goes on, the silver clock tower will overshadow ours. You must add another meter and a half to our clock tower so it can remain an elite clock tower."
"But Doctor," said Sophia, "where will I find the materials to build the clock tower up?"
"Simple," said Dr. John, "you can stand under the tower and hold it up."
Later that day, Sophia indeed went to hold the tower up all by herself. It was a difficult task and very heavy, but Sophia was a strong girl and she did it. All by herself she raised the golden clock tower by an extra meter and a half, so that it was once again the tallest clock tower in the land. Dr. John was very pleased and gave Sophia a half day off for her effort. She shifted the weight on her shoulders and politely declined.
Unfortunately for the caretakers of the golden clock tower, disaster struck some weeks later. Sophia had taken ill after so many nights of standing outside in the cold. She had sneezed, and accidentally toppled the clock tower. The gold leaf was scattered across the ground, revealing the rusty iron scaffolding; the scaffolding had come completely apart, revealing the red rotted insides of the ancient iron girders. The clock tower was ruined.
"Sophia, I am very disappointed in your recent performance," said Dr. John. "I must inform your parents - sickness is no excuse for poor results. You have gone and destroyed our clock tower's image."
"I am so sorry," said Sophia tearfully, nursing a bruise.
"I shall have to make you write an apology letter later," said Dr. John. "But first, you must collect all the scattered gold leaf and rebuild our clock tower."
"Yes, Doctor." Sophia sniffled.
"This is your last chance."
Later that day, Sophia searched the city high and low for the scattered scraps of gold leaf; and once she had pieced them all together, she went to the site of the fallen clock tower with a toolbox and painstakingly built it back up. It took the last of Sophia's savings, but she finally managed to restore the golden clock tower to its prior glory.
"Very good, Sophia," said Dr. John approvingly. "Now go and write that apology letter, and then you can return to holding our beautiful clock tower up."
Many weeks passed, and the disastrous collapse of the clock tower soon faded from memory. Only Sophia remembered.
One day while preparing monologues in his golf cart, Dr. John looked up and noticed something hanging on a line from his clock tower. It was Sophia. There was a paper noose tied around her neck, and she was hanging directly in front of the sparkling clock face for all to see. Dr. John got out of the golf cart, mortified.
"This will be catastrophic for our clock tower's image," he thought to himself.
So Dr. John went up the stairs to the clock face of the tower, where he carefully hid Sophia's body from the eye of the public; he carefully took the bits of paper from her noose and put them in his pants pocket, then took out Sophie's employment records and stuffed them in a secret safe in his office full of old employment records. Finally, he put out an advertisement in the newspaper for a new assistant to maintain the clock tower, making sure to highlight its flawless and illustrious reputation as an elite clock tower.
"Finished at last!" Dr. John said pleasantly, rubbing his hands and leaning back in his seat. "Oh! but I do begin to feel rather sorry for that girl. Perhaps I should give her a proper funeral."
And Dr. John did organize a proper and somber funeral for his dearly departed assistant, using some of his considerable fortune; but because he was running on the time of his golden clock tower, he arrived to give his speech thirty minutes late.