The Rolex Recovery.
Read the episode:
I’m standing on the front lawn of the New Moon church with no idea if the Rolex thief is waiting behind the entrance doors, ready to use his muscles as a meat grinder. While I was following him he didn’t look back to check if anyone was on his tail, but he might be an expert at doing so unnoticed, and have a plan for me in place.
I’ll call the police before somebody else has to call me an ambulance. I go for my smart phone, and I feel like an idiot, cause it ain’t in my pocket. I forgot it at home, which never happens, I swear.
Even worse, I find a can opener in my pocket. I fed the neighbour’s cat the night before. They’d asked me to take care of him while they stay at a mediation retreat in Quebec.
Ah…Little Finnegan what a time to worry that you’re hungry. I’m sure he has enough dry food to last a few days – unless he’s the kind of cat that eats the whole plate before he gets back to napping. A cat crossed with a sleepy pig. No, he’s a Tabby cat, and if I’d remembered my smart phone, I could search their eating habits so I’d know for sure.
I mean, if I really need to, there’s a library with computers near by. I can look up the cost of Bill’s Rolex too, in case I have to start a fund to buy him a new one. It’s a better goal than facing what ever’s behind the church doors.
Then again a new watch won’t be the same for Bill, because the one he bought for himself commemorated twenty years of service at the fire department. It’s irreplaceable.
Only my attitude is replaceable. So I take a deep breath and try to think positive.
Why would the thief assume the next person to walk through the door is in hot pursuit of him. The New Moon church must have hundreds of members that come and go, so the odds are he’d be confronting the wrong guy.
And if he so much looks at me suspiciously, I’ll frown and ask if something is wrong. And when he says no, I’ll ask questions and get him talking.
I’ll ask if he’s a member of the Universal Harmony Choir, cause I’d like to see them live, to help me forget about the meteor that killed the dinosaurs. And if he isn’t a member, I’ll ask which sermon I should go to and would he give it at least three stars, cause anything less is like seeking redemption and finding a dead body at a Bar mitzvah.
And even if he’s not in the mood for a review, I’ll tell him that I’d like to join the church. I’m a pawn broker who’s seeking faith after my wife left me. In the midst of despair I’ve lost my negotiation skills, so I buy jewelry from any old coot for twice the price as normal, and with no questions asked. My clients could be stealing from blind men for all I care. I’m sure the thief would lap that one up.
I open one of the church’s large wooden doors, then casually slip into the vestibule. The dusky entrance room is empty, though immaculately so.
A large cross on the wall fills the void of nothingness. It hangs beside another set of wooden doors, which I suspect are the entrance to the nave.
A few benches are spread through out the room, as well as oil paintings of several unabashedly moustached men who dress like they belong to the eighteenth century.
There are stained glass windows, and tables with candles and baskets of what appears to be potpourri in them.
The muffled tone of an organ catches my ear, and I wonder if the Rolex thief might be playing it. Did he take time out from his devious mission for a hymn or two? Perhaps he’s warming up for rehearsal with the choir.
If it’s him, it means the theft is no big deal for his conscious.
I open the nave door, and find myself at the rear of a large hall, behind rows of wooden benches that seat about two hundred people. I look around the dim chamber but don’t see the Rolex thief anywhere.
The organ, a monstrosity of keyboards and wood, is in a corner at the front of the hall. Hunching over it is an older man who’s partly bald, quite lanky and thin. His head and body wavers in devout rhythm to the choral music. Unaware of my presence, he plays on and on with conviction, convincing me he knows nothing about the Rolex theft.
But somehow he must know the thief, because a church organist would have to attend a lot of functions, and see everyone at them. Maybe I can fill him in on what happened, describe what the culprit looked like, and get a name.
I march over to him, and poke his back. He hits a wrong note, then quits the tune altogether. He flings his head around and gives me a sour look. His face is straight and narrow, almost rectangular, and glossy with moisture. His moustache looks identical to the thief’s, a bushy quarter moon that droops slightly off each side of his lips. This similarity is so uncomfortable I almost forget the importance of my mission, to recover Bill’s watch.
Sorry, I say to him. Sorry for the disturbance. Sorry he couldn’t finish such a great song.
The old man stares blankly at me, then sighs in defeat as though he’s been disrupted many times before. He asks if I have an important question.
I’m about to speak, but a needle pierces the skin of my shoulder. I become dizzy and the ceiling gradually lowers, and the shapes and symbols on the walls blur into a short sighted dance. My legs feel doughy and uncoordinated, so I hobble to the front bench and sit down before I lose total use of them.
I can’t feel my ass on the wood, but I’m sitting down. I grab my head with both hands, and it feels like two bricks on a bowling ball.
The New Moon church has regressed from reality to a dream.
The old man is playing music again, perhaps the same song but I not quite sure. A falcon is perched on an organ pipe. It swoops down and fastens its claws on his scalp, then tears at his ear with its beak, ripping and spreading while his plays on.
I try to shout at him but I’m mute. I try to stand up but I’m incapacitated.
Then blackness hits.
When I regain consciousness, I’m laying face up on the wooden bench. My cheeks feel cold and wet, my spine is jittery and sore. The organist is standing over me, holding a half full bottle of water. His moustache looms above like an abandoned bird’s nest.
He must have poured water over my head while I was passed out on the bench.
His ear is unscathed, not a sign of a damage to it.
So, he says the good thing about drunks like me, is that they never show up for church on the right day. Because I’d have ruffled a few Sunday suits if the booze hadn’t messed up my timing.
Well, how can he come to this conclusion? At most my breath smells like coconut flavoured creamer. I laugh until the heaviness sinks in from whatever drug was injected into my body.
I shake my head a bit, and tell the old man that I’d never blanked out anywhere except for this church.
He nods his head impatiently, in agitated disbelief, then asks me to take my alcoholism elsewhere so he can continue playing the organ.
It’s a bit of a shock to hear a church member brush me off after I’ve hardly gained my senses, but this is the New Moon Church, which is strange and complicated. That could mean they have dark and devious customs to hide from outsiders.
What about Bill’s Rolex? I grab the organist’s shirt sleeve, then spill out the only reason I’d visit the New Moon Church – to recover a friend’s stolen watch.
I describe the large blond man, including his very familiar half moon moustache, then let go of the organist’s shirt.
He shakes his head in denial, as though he’s never seen a moustache before, then he turns around and heads towards the organ. Before he reaches his instrument, he turns back and asks my name.
I almost spurt it out, but hold back until an alias comes to mind, in case he’s planning to use the information against me.
My name is… Ken Kipper, I say.
Boy, am I ever right about the alias, cause then he asks for my phone number, in case he hears anything about the watch.
I say that the police will take care of the rest, cause I’ll be sending them to the New Moon church to investigate. And they’ll hear about my little blackout after I felt a pin prick in my shoulder.
The old man’s face flames up, and he insists I leave the church before he calls the cops on me for trespassing.
I’m about to apologize for any inconvenience, in case the church might need to buy antique furniture in the future. But then I remember how much Bill’s watch meant to him. It represents the pinnacle of his career as a fireman. His memory of it would be forever softened by an undeserving thief.
I invite the organist to call the cops, then offer to wait by his side until they arrive.
The organist ponders my plan for a moment, his eyelids half closed, and lips caught in a somber grin – then his face lights up, as though a puppeteer was pulling his strings.
He admits he’s under stress about a wedding he’s performing at the next Saturday, then apologizes for his unsociable behaviour.
The change in his tone satisfies me plenty, but then with the sincerest face, he goes further, saying he has never seen the man I described to him, and he’ll tell the head minister everything, and I can check back at my convenience for an update.
To finish off, he says it’s unfortunate I’d passed out on the church bench, but swears nobody pricked me with a needle.
Honestly, I didn’t want to call the cops on him. If he has nothing to do with the watch, then why does he deserve a hassle. In the antiques world, I have picky clients who always embellish the smallest mishap into a moody dispute, so why should I cause the kind of burden I loathe?
I thank him for waking me up, and ask if he performs with the Universal Harmony Choir.
He says you’re welcome, then bows graciously. I chuckle at the pomp gesture, which is better suited for a count in a castle. But it gives me a warm hunch that somehow the watch will find its way back to Bill. I have no idea how, but I trust my intuition.
The good feeling continues after I exit the front doors, and until halfway up the walkway, when a sudden urge tells me to look to my left.
There on the church lawn, besides a sign for the Universal Harmony Choir Raffle, lays the Rolex watch. I snap it up, then rub it to make a hundred percent sure it’s real.
The gold wristband is warm, so the watch wasn’t on the lawn for long in the nippy spring weather.
I try to gauge how long it’s been since I saw thief enter the church, but I’d left my cell phone at home. And on my days off I don’t wear a watch, and I can’t even remember the position of the sun when I arrived, so my sense of time is kaput.
I try to recall the thief entering the church, but nothing comes to mind. Yet for sure I had seen him open the door and disappear into the building, and if somehow, in the most unlikely instance I was wrong, I had no idea where he really went. Man, it’s as though some kind of spell had been cast on me. I’m left with the Rolex and an uncertain memory.
I mean, the only other option is that the thief continued walking down the street, instead of entering the church. So what exactly had I seen him vanish into? Was I looking at a neighbouring house that I mistook for the church?
Anyway, I have to get back to the coffee shop, and return the watch to Bill, then make sure Finnegan is fed.