To Augustus, Love Pappy




“To Augustus, Love Pappy.”

He blinked and read the inscription again.

“To Augustus, Love Pappy.”

His heart thudded painfully in his chest. His girlfriend Wanda was holding a rhinestone bracelet up to the light, looking for any missing stones. The small antique shop was dimly lit, maybe for atmosphere, maybe so minor flaws might be missed…he suspected the later. He didn’t much trust most antique dealers. He’d read it somewhere that they liked to rip off gullible customers.

He held the pocket watch in his hand.  The last time he had seen this watch was in a pawn shop twenty years ago, when he was a teenager. He’d snatched it out of the top left drawer of the roll-top desk in the little office by the kitchen in his parent’s house when he was 19 and wanted to buy weed for a party his friend was throwing. It was his great-uncle’s watch and a family heirloom.  He was a little shit when he was a teenager, he knew that. His mother never said anything about the pocket watch. But he knew she knew. And every once in a while he’d see a certain kind of clock or watch and feel shame, but it was easy to shove it back down, where it belonged.

He was finding it hard to breathe. It was so stuffy and the shop was so small.

“I’m going outside for a sec to smoke,” he said to Wanda. She nodded, still intently staring at the bracelet.

He put the watch on the counter, stepped outside and didn’t light up a cigarette. Instead, he pressed his back against the brick front of the building and took a few deep breaths.

We have so few opportunities in life to truly right a wrong. Especially a wrong of any magnitude. The thought of righting this was thrumming in his head.

Back inside, he asked the dealer for the price on the watch. It was always a bad sign when items didn’t have a posted price and when the dealer said a number that was the size of one of his paychecks, he groaned.  It was exactly 20 times the amount he had originally gotten for it at the pawn shop and there was some justice in that, he supposed.

He slapped a credit card down on the counter.

“What the hell, Dean?” his girlfriend said.

“I just need to do this,” he said. “Don’t give me crap over this. Please.”

He’d put it back in the roll-top desk that was still in his parent’s house. His dad was gone now but his mom was still there in the same house. He wouldn’t tell her.  He’d just do it. It took him 20 years to return it.  But he knew now, what a gift it was to be ABLE to put it back where it belonged.

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