Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2012 v11n1
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The Watch
     After Coup de Torchon by Bertrand Tavernier

I bought myself this watch at an airport duty–free kiosk in Denver to celebrate my second anniversary with the company. After securing a deal for 250,000 units with a defense contractor, I’d become the lead regional sales rep. The watch is Danish. Its woven titanium band is like a rope lowered halfway into Hell then pulled back up before anyone down there can see it. When I open my briefcase of samples what you’re really seeing is a map of Denmark, and I am the King of Denmark. I make my people celebrate me. My seven wives wave at my side. Everyone falls into line. I command my generals to take no prisoners and do what they will with the citizens. My watch struts around eating a greasy drumstick. It makes bribes and takes bribes and acquires more land. It shows up to parties drunk and goes home with a beautiful young woman to grunt into. At night I let it sleep next to me. When I press my ear to its smooth quartz face I hear ten days of rain ticking down through the trees, making the members of a search party miserable. They’ve been out in the woods calling a child’s name. They’ve held hands and combed every inch of the land. The dogs and helicopters turned up nothing. The last members of the search party have stripped off their ponchos, the dim flashlights clenched between their knees. They drive home to their separate houses and feel ashamed. But the way the watch tells the story is incredible, like a star ready to collapse and suck in all the light around it. It knows where the body’s hidden and has promised to tell me.  

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