My latest Flash Fiction Friday challenge had been to write about the change last weekend to Daylight Savings Time. What if different people changed at different times? What if that hour wasn't really lost? I blended in a bit of magic, via a leprechaun, and had fun with this. 2000 words worth, so the real challenge was to get it to just a tad over the 1000 word limit.
A Lost Hour
"Just one last good crime," he said. "Then they’ll give me some respect."
His girlfriend shook her head. "Marian, they always will expect more. Quit before you get busted again. I love you just the way you are. Remember our dream, of kids and our own place."
"Come on Steph, I told you, it’s Mario when we’re out in public. The guys think I have Mafia roots—helps my street cred with them. We’ll still get to that dream, someday."
His mother, a solid Polish woman, chose his name as a popular name back home. His father, a tough Irish cop, had called it a great name for a momma’s boy. He’d practiced tough love on his son until Marian was 15, then had promptly died. Marian still worked to impress him, though.
"Still, Steph, I wish I had a gimmick, something cool like freeze time while I made a getaway."
She laughed. "Careful what you wish for. I’m off to work, I have a surgery scheduled tonight. Why don’t you go for a walk, get some air?"
There was a brand new place at the corner, Shameless O’Dea’s Irish Pub. The inside was dark, with a few old wooden tables, empty chairs, a sawdust-covered floor, and a haze of smoke from a small fireplace. The bartender—a very short man with bright red hair and a bushy beard—waved him over.
"Welcome my friend. I’m Shameless by name, but not by nature. How about a pint or two, before we start some serious talk about wishes and dreams. Marian, you said your name was, I believe. Polish roots, but I can smell the Irish in you."
Several pints later, Marian stumbled out of the pub, with only vague memories of confessing his deepest secrets, but with a very real note, clutched in his hand. "Good for one wish," it read, "to change time. Let others spring forward while you stay the course. Then relive your time in the fall."
Two weeks later, in the small hours of the morning, Marian put his new plan into action. Steph had opposed it, of course, but here he was, at 1:59 a.m., in a jewellery store, waiting for Daylight Savings to start. He’d already cut the alarm and jimmied the simple back door. The wall clocked clicked one more minute, and froze, as did the few people and cars outside. He smiled, grabbed a chair, and smashed it into the first display. No alarms. He leisurely worked his way through the cabinets, scooping the jewelry into a backpack, then strolled out the back door and up the alley. By the time the clocks restarted he was in his own bed, on the other side of town.
Steph had not been pleased when he dumped his haul on the table. "I still love you, Marian, but I don’t like what you do in life. This is not you. I can’t watch this train wreck." Within minutes she was packed, and, despite his pleading, gone.
His fellow gang members were more than pleased to learn of his success.. The cops had questioned him, but the cameras were blank and his concierge had seen him coming home at 3 a.m. Even after fencing his haul, Marian still had enough to live the high life. He did look for the bar, to thank his Irish friend, but it was gone.
Life was good, yet, over the summer, as his money dwindled away, and the memory of his exploit faded, his friends gradually drifted off. By the time the Fall clock change approached, he had enough for one last splurge. According to the wish his Irish friend had promised, he could have a great hour, and then repeat it. Then he’d think about going straight.
Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work that way. One minute he was getting ready to party, and the next minute he was back inside the same jewellery store. But this time there were bars over the windows, the large steel door behind him was locked, and the alarm bell was ringing. The police arrived in minutes, and soon had Marian sitting in a cell downtown.
He wasn’t expecting to be released the next morning, though. Steph was waiting, with a smile, but an upheld hand. "No hugs yet, okay? I bailed you out, and they are rethinking the charges. Maybe only be for trespassing, not even a break and enter. They seem confused, as am I. Come on, I’ll drive you home."
Just as they turned the last corner, he grabbed her arm, and pointed. "Look, it’s back," he said. "That pub. It closed last spring, but it’s here again. The bartender there gave me the wish, to stop time. I have to go in.."
She frowned, but stopped the car. "Okay, we can drop in. But don’t think you can blame some short little Irish guy for whatever happened. You made your choices, and there are always consequences."
Marian nodded, but he was in fact a little pissed off. He’d been tricked. As they walked in to the same empty, smokey bar, Shameless looked up and smiled.
"Ah here you are. Back for another wish? The old one will keep going, you know, flaws and all. But your choice. A pint while you ponder your future?"
Something in his words made Marian pause.
"I think my wish would be to undo that last one." He turned to Steph. "And maybe think about dreams and consequences."
"Granted," said Shameless. He reached under the counter, lifted up an old gym bag, and placed it onto the bar with a solid clunk. "Consider this an apology and a wedding present. Something toward that house in the suburbs. Sorry about the smelly bag, I seem to have misplaced the traditional iron pot. Still want a drink?"
Steph smiled, but shook her head. "I think we’ll take a rain check on that." She gave Marian a kiss. "I need to get this trouble-maker home."
"No problem," said the bartender. He handed Marian the bag. "Drop in whenever you want to just talk, I’ll be here if you need me."