The Time Keeper of Ponyville

by Askre

Chapter 05. New arrivals in town

Chapter 5

Time Turner had a lot to think about as he walked home from his evening check of the clock tower. He had finished Tootsie’s clock sooner thanks to Caramel manning the counter of his shop. Thus the stallion had decided to just deliver it back to its owner, if only to have a small weak excuse to at least see the mare he was so smitten with.

Things had not gone the way he had expected them do go. Despite his hopes, he was realistic enough to figure he would only manage to hoof over the clock and that was it. Instead Derpy herself had all but shoved him inside, insisted he sat down and even offered him a drink.

Can it possibly mean, no it can’t be… can it? He didn’t even dare to hope.

“And why did I turn down an offer of a drink?” Turner asked out loud, waving one front leg into the air.

There was however no one to answer him so the stallion continued his journey. It was a slight walk since, as Carrot Top had pointed out, he lived on the other side of town from Derpy’s house. The sun was beginning to set and filled the town with an orange glow. All around him ponies were heading to their respective homes, shops were closing and the streets were starting to become empty of life.

Still deep in thought as he passed the train station, Time Turner didn’t notice another pony about to walk right into his path. She was apparently distracted as well since the mare didn’t see him either and the two of them collided.

“Ack, sorry,” the mare cried as the two ponies crumbled to the ground, she on top of him.

“Ugh.” Time Turner gasped for air, that mare was heavy.

Fortunately she was also quick to rise back up and help the stallion back to his feet. Turner had to take a moment to catch his breath again before he looked at the sheepish pony. She was rather tall for a Pegasus mare, stallion sized even and looked about as heavy. The mare was maroon colored but with a white snout and back. Her left front hoof and pastern were white and so was her right hind leg from down the gaskin. Her mane was navy blue and looked messy.

“I am so sorry, I can be such a scatter brain sometimes. I was just not paying attention at all,” the mare continued to apologize, she started to use her short bushy tail to dust off the stallion.

“It’s alright, it’s alright,” Time Turner assured her and lifted a hoof to stop the dusting. “I wasn’t paying much attention myself.”

“I didn’t hurt you did I? I’m heavier than I look and I don’t always know my own strength sometimes.” The mare looked concerned.

“Aside from having to re-inhale some air, I am quite fine thank you, miss,” Turner told her and smiled reassuringly. “Really, I’m fine.”

“Are you sure? My sister is a trained nurse, she could take a look at you,” the Pegasus offered. Time Turner was starting to wonder if this happened a lot to this mare, she seemed almost on edge.

“I do not require any medical attention, thank you again. I really must be going though.” Time Turner said, he was starting to think that if he didn’t get away soon, the mare would end up shipping him to the hospital for a medical emergency.

Fortunately the mare just nodded and the stallion turned away. He hadn’t gone far though when the Pegasus suddenly landed right in front of him, having flown up to catch up. For a second Turner thought she had decided to take no chances and deliver him to a hospital.

“Sorry to bother you again, mister,” the mare giggled nervously. “I just completely forgot that I went to look for a hotel or something for my sister and I, we just arrived here in Ponyville and need a place to stay for a day or two.”

“Oh right.” Turner felt really stupid for being so paranoid. “The Ponyville Inn is close to the city center, very close to the town hall. You can’t miss it from here, you just approach the town tall, go to the left and there it is.”

The mare smiled wide thanking him. She spread her wings and flew back to the train station. Turner however continued his walk home, this small distraction had been enough to take his mind of today’s event. Now he was more concerned with maintaining by some miracle the budget of his shop.

The next day

Time Turner entered the Town Hall to fetch the employment contract for Caramel. The mayor herself had agreed to help him write one up, the stallion had a suspicion she was feeling guilty about the whole clock gear thing. It was still early morning but there were already some ponies around attending to various business.

He noticed Mulberry coming out of his office, since there was no official police station in Ponyville, holding a paper in his mouth. The short pony went to the waiting area where two mares sat. Time Turner recognized the maroon Pegasus from yesterday evening again but not the blue one sitting beside her. This mare was much shorter and bit pudgier, her mane was white with red stripes almost like a candy cane. Turner now first noted that the maroon mare had three suns as a cutie mark and the blue one had a heart with two lightning bolts shooting out of it.

As this was not important to his business, Time Turner paid no further heed to it. He went to the mayor’s office and knocked. He was immediately invited in. The mayor smiled at the stallion when he entered and he returned it.

“Well, Mr. Turner, I managed to write up a contract, it should be a standard one for a small shop owner and I did take into consideration your own budged as you explained it to me,” she told him and pushed two pieces of paper across the desk towards the clock smith.

Time Turner looked it over and couldn’t see better than it was a pretty fair and standard contract. It also had a copy of it made, which made sense since both he and Caramel had to have one each.

“This looks good, thanks Madame Mayor,” Turner thanked her gratefully. He picked up the contract and stashed it into his saddlebag.

“You’re welcome Mr. Turner. Though I’m a little worried and I hope you don’t mind me saying so but your budget as you explained it barely allows you to have an employee. I can only wonder why you decided to hire Caramel,” the mare said and frowned slightly.

Pity mostly, the stallion thought but didn’t want to word it like that. “What can I say, Caramel desperately needed a new job and I figured I could squeeze him in.”

The mayor’s expression didn’t change though she did nod at the explanation. She had to admit that if Turner had one big fault it was that others could so easily talk him into helping, no matter what it was. Her thoughts went back few weeks ago when Turner had been convinced by the Cutie Mark Crusaders to help them find the cottage of the fillynappers.

I hope his generosity isn’t going to end up biting him in the rump. She refrained from shaking her head. Instead the mare reassumed her smile and dismissed the clock smith.

Time Turner hadn’t been gone long from the office when there was another knock on her door. Mayor Mare invited the pony in and this time it was Mulberry. The stocky stallion entered fully and closed the door.

“Madame Mayor, I have given the social worker ponies from Fillydelphia the information they needed. However, if I may speak bluntly, these aren’t the usual ones who come to visit. They do not know the ponies they are going to visit and I’m worried they might get wrong ideas by hearing rumors or stories out of context,” the officer said.

“Officer Mulberry, this is a routine visit. Yes they are replacing the usual ones, which isn’t all that unusual, promotions or retiring or being too busy happens in social work as well. I’m sure Miss Doe and Miss Stripes will not be too judgmental and base their analysis on facts and their own impression on the ponies they are meeting up with,” the mayor told him.

But what if their first impression isn’t the best impression, Mulberry thought. He didn’t respond to what the mayor said, just nodded and left the office once he was dismissed.

Mulberry was happy to see that Time Turner hadn’t left yet. The mayor’s secretary had stopped the clock smith to ask him to take a look at clock on her desk. Time Turner was still in the middle of seeing if there was anything serious wrong and if he would need to take it to the shop for repairs.

The officer approached but waited until Turner was finished before addressing him. The other stallion looked at him curiously, wondering what the smaller pony wanted.

“Can we speak privately?” Mulberry asked.

“Sure,” Turner said and looked at the secretary as he put the clock in his saddlebag. “I’ll need to open it to check it out, swing by my shop later and I can give you more information what is wrong.”

The secretary nodded, thanked him and soon the two stallions were headed out of the town hall. They didn’t start to speak right away, Mulberry first made sure that there were no other ponies too close to them, he was especially on the lookout for certain ponies.

“Turner, there just arrived two new social worker ponies from Fillydelphia. They are here to see the ponies here who have foals in foster care,” the short pony whispered.

“That sounds routine enough.” Turner shrugged. Mulberry held back a sigh as he quickly glanced around.

“I’m not supposed to talk about this, but they especially asked for information regarding Derpy,” he whispered.

Time Turner had to muster up all his willpower not to freeze in his track. He did however glance towards Mulberry again with a surprised look. It took him a moment though to form the question he wanted to ask, since hundreds of possible scenarios were flying through his mind.

“Um why would they ask about her?” he asked and also wondered why Mulberry was especially telling him that. Surely he didn’t suspect the clock smith’s crush on the mail mare.

“That what worries me, you know Derpy’s reputation in this town. If we had a major drought some ponies around here would somehow manage to blame her for it,” the officer told him.

“That, unfortunately, is true.” Turner shook his head before glancing again at Mulberry. “So um, why are you telling me this?”

“Oh please, the other day at the Café, I think half the town saw your goofy smile after her,” the short pony snorted and grinned.

Turner cringed as he realized what Mulberry was talking about. Of course ponies would have noticed that, it had happened around lunch time with plenty of them around to witness it. With his luck most of Ponyville probably knew about his attraction to Derpy by now.

“Look I won’t bother you about it, trust me. However I figured you would like to know,” the officer said.

“I appreciate that, but maybe you should have gone and tried finding Derpy to let her know,” Turner pointed out.

“Chances are she already knows, I mean surely they send ponies a notice about upcoming visits,” Mulberry shrugged and the other stallion nodded, that did make sense.

They parted ways and Time Turner continued to walk to his shop. Now that Caramel was helping him, it was already open and the amber stallion sat behind the counter and read a newspaper. One potential customer was in the shop, it was Sweetie Drops or Bon Bon as she was also known among her friends. The beige mare with blue and pink mane was looking at grandfather clocks, she glanced over when Turner entered before returning her attention back to the clocks.

“Alright, I got your contract here, the mayor wrote it up for me, it should be pretty standard according to her,” he addressed Caramel and pulled out the papers from his saddlebag.

Caramel took one copy and started reading it over. His eyebrows rose skywards as he read it and his jaw dropped. The pony looked at Time Turner who could only wonder why his employee was looking so surprised.

“Have you read this?” Caramel asked.

“Yes, is there something wrong?” Turner asked concerned and worried that perhaps this was not as good as what Caramel was used to.

“Well… no… I just didn’t know I could get paid that much for a simple clerk job.” the amber pony looked at the contract again.

Turner frowned in thought. He had seen the wages he would be paying Caramel and figured he could reasonably afford it. The Mayor had explained to him the laws about minimum wage and he had told her to put the payment above that if possible. She had done so by the looks of it.

“The mayor told me this was a standard contract between a small shop owner and an employee,” he said and gestured to the contract. “I even told her to try and put the wages above minimum.”

“This is standard?” Caramel couldn’t believe his ears. “Have I been working my entire adult life for less than minimum wages?”

Hearing that, it was Time Turner’s turn to drop his jaw in surprise. He couldn’t comment further on it however as Bon Bon appeared by the counter and cleared her throat to get their attention. Contract discussions were dropped for now and the stallions turned towards their customer.

“Can we help you?” Turner asked, meanwhile Caramel stole another glance at the contract.

“Yes actually, you can,” the mare said and pointed a hoof towards the clocks she had been examining. “I want to buy that green grandfather clock. I’m redecorating the living room and I really think it needs a good standing clock.”

Time Turner glanced at the clock in question. That was one of the fancier clocks in his shop. It was imported from Canterlot and probably one of the more expensive ones he had in stock. He was passingly familiar with Bon Bon and wasn’t quite sure she could afford it, then again it was not his to judge what clocks ponies wanted. If she wanted that clock he might as well at least see if the mare could pay for it.

“Well that one is 100 bits, 110 if I have it delivered for you,” he told her. The stallion felt a little bad when seeing the mare’s face fall, she had clearly not paid attention to the price tag.

“Oh my, I didn’t realize it was that expensive,” she muttered and glanced back at the clocks.

“That blue one is 45 bits, 55 with delivery,” Turner said hoping that was an acceptable substitute.

“Hm,” Bon Bon furrowed her brow as she thought it over, then she looked at the clocks again. “Can it be painted green?”

“Yes it can, I usually take a bit for customizing clocks, so that would be 46 bits,” the stallion explained to her.

“That would be delightful. I’ll take that one then, paint it green and have it delivered to my house,” Bon Bon nodded with a wide smile.

“That will be 56 bits then, you can pay now or on delivery. Painting is a very simple customization so I can have it brought over to you this afternoon,” Turner told her.

The mare was satisfied with that and decided to pay upfront. Once the payment was made she trotted out of the store. Time Turner glanced at Caramel, intending to address him, but was silenced by the fact that the other pony was offering him the contract. The clock smith glanced to the bottom of it.

“You’ve signed it,” Turner took the paper, Caramel just nodded happily.

“I signed the copy too,” he added.

Turner looked at the copy that lay on the counter. With a shrug he took the pen Caramel offered him and signed both papers as well. Then pushed one over to his employee.

“Here, you keep this one for yourself. I’ll put this away,” Turner said and simply put his copy on the workbench for now.

Now that contracts were over and done with, Turner walked away from the counter and headed to the blue grandfather clock. With practiced ease he managed to pick it up and balance it on his back and started to walk towards the back room with it. Painting the clock wouldn’t take a lot of time but the type of paint he used needed time to dry, especially if he was going to have it delivered by the afternoon.

“I’ll be in the back taking care of this thing, call me if you need help,” Turner addressed Caramel who saluted.

Turner disappeared into the backroom with the clock and Caramel returned to his newspaper. The amber pony expected this to be a fairly calm day, the best part of this job he felt was the fact that he could most of the time just sit there behind the counter.

He was a little worried though. Time Turner had in the end declared all the Wonderbolt clocks beyond repair and delivered those bad news to Top Spin. According to the clock smith, the toy store owner had not been happy to hear that at all. Caramel was pretty sure that his back pay would be now docked to cover for new ones.

A chime of the door interrupted his newspaper reading. Glancing up he saw the blue Pegasus mare Turner had seen at the town hall. Caramel put away the paper since the pony went straight to the counter, but she didn’t address him and instead began immediately to look at the various pocket watches on display.

“Can I help you?” Caramel asked. Somehow her bearing indicated to him that she might be shy, at least she didn’t carry herself like she would be the first to address someone.

“Maybe you can actually,” the mare looked at him and smiled, showing no signs of shyness at all, her voice was clear and she looked straight at him. “I’ve been trying to find an old pocket watch for a friend. If it has some historical significance that’s even better.”

“Oh… right,” Caramel hesitated when he realized that he had absolutely no idea which pocket watch was old and if any of them had any history to them.

Caramel glanced back at the backdoor. He knew he should call Turner in for assistance. However he really wanted to show that he was the right pony for this job and if he could do this on his own, he might not just impress his new boss but other ponies in town as well.

The stallion took a look at the display case with the pocket watches, trying to find one that looked old enough. However, Turner kept his stock in good condition, most of the watched looked very well cleaned and polished with very little sign of any wear. Caramel glanced up at the mare who just waited there patiently.

“Is there anything especially special your friend looks for in watches?” he asked.

“No not really, for him it’s enough it’s old and has some historical connection,” the Pegasus said and shrugged. “He really likes history and I figured that maybe I could find something for him while I was visiting here. If not a watch, I’ll just try and find something else.”

Right, Caramel looked down at the display again. Finally he saw one watch that looked like it could be the oldest, though right now he was just wild guessing. He opened the counter and picked up the watch to show it better to the mare.

“This one is our oldest in stock,” he said even if he had no idea if that was true or not. “It was quite possibly owned by Stinking Rich, the pony who helped make Ponyville like it is today.”

“Quite possibly owned?” The mare raised an eyebrow.

Ah horse apples, I’m losing her, Caramel realized his error. “I meant it was owned, sorry. Yes most definitely owned by him.”

“But you’re not completely sure.” The Pegasus didn’t sound too convinced by Caramel’s sales pitch.

“No, no I’m very sure he did. This watch has just exchanged hooves so many times that it’s just not always too obvious,” the stallion told her trying his best genuine smile.

“Uh huh, and how much for that ‘historical’ watch?” the mare inquired.

“Uh… ten bits?” Caramel said, forgetting completely to check the sticker price.

“You say that like you are not sure it’s that much.” The Pegasus pointed out.

Jeez, she’s roasting me alive here. She’s probably heard every bad sales pitch in existence, Caramel felt a bit of sweat on his brow but managed to maintain his smile. He decided to just see if the pony wanted that watch or not.

“It’s ten bits, take it or leave it,” he said in his firmest voice, which wasn’t that firm at all, the mare didn’t look very impressed.

“Fine, I’ll take it,” she said with a roll of her eyes and gathered up the money from her saddlebag. Caramel gave her the watch and soon the mare left the store.

Wow, I actually did it, I sold something, the amber pony thought as he put the money in the cash register.

Feeling pretty good about himself, Caramel returned to the newspaper. At that moment Turner came from the back room, he was wearing a white apron that had splashes of paint of various colors on it.

“Caramel, can you run to the hardware store and get me some special green paint, I figured I might as well stylish up Bon Bon’s new clock a little since she couldn’t afford the more expensive one,” the clock smith said. “Lug Nut knows what paint I’m talking about, he’s my paint supplier.”

“Sure, by the way, a customer just bought a pocket watch just before you came in,” Caramel put the newspaper away.

“Oh really? Well that’s good,” Turner nodded in approval until he gave the display case a casual glance.

Caramel noticed that Turner was now staring wide eyed at the display case, especially the empty spot where the watch had been. The good feeling from earlier vanished and the amber stallion realized he may have done something incorrectly.

“Is something wrong?” he asked.

“Did you sell the watch that was over there” Turner asked and pointed at the empty spot.

“Um, yes. She wanted an old watch and that one looked the oldest,” Caramel explained.

“Caramel, that was a F.O.B watch. Fashioned to look Old B model watch. I used to make them myself but most ponies don’t want old looking watches so they never sell very well. That one has been there for weeks,” Turner was actually starting to sound impressed though deep down he was feeling guilty too, a customer had been sold it while honestly believing it to be an old watch. “Doesn’t help that the materials I use in them are rather expensive so I have to ask for 30 bits for each one.”

“Did you just say 30?” Caramel whispered in shock.

“Yes I did, those watches cost 30 bits each,” Turner nodded and scowled when noticing the terrified expression on his employee. “Caramel, you did sell it for 30 bits right?”

Hundreds of different thoughts were flying through Caramel’s head. Most of them involved the various ways Time Turner would be firing him on the spot. Any good feeling he had previously was utterly gone and he was picturing himself once again applying for unemployment benefits or asking another pony desperately for a job.

I wonder if Applejack will still hire me, even after the incident with the sheep, he thought as he tried to form some sort of a sentence for his waiting employer.

“I… kind of… sorta… sold it… um… for ten bits…” He managed to pry out of himself.

Time Turner groaned and put a hoof on his face. He was starting to see even more properly now why Caramel often had difficulties keeping a job. Still he didn’t want to completely blame him. The clock smith realized he probably should have been out in the store, ready to help Caramel during the first few days of his employment.

“Well it’s probably too late now, was it a local pony who bought it?” he asked.

“No, she said she was just visiting. I didn’t recognize her.” Caramel gulped and kept expecting to hear the dreaded ‘you’re fired’.

“We’ll sort this out later. Go to the hardware store and get me that paint,” Turner sighed, he was almost glad he had stopped making these types of watches, so at least he didn’t need to buy materials for a new one.

Caramel was more than happy to play errand boy for now and hurried out of the store. He desperately hoped that ‘short this out later’ meant he would still have a job. Though it was possible Turner might take it out of his pay.

At this rate, I won’t get paid for the next few months, the amber stallion thought as he raced across town to the hardware store.

End chapter 5