• Published 23rd Dec 2012
  • 3,542 Views, 89 Comments

The Time Keeper of Ponyville - Askre

Time Turner is in love but is hesitant to really act on it. Other things in his life also distract him like the clock tower and a new employee at his shop.

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Chapter 03. Caramel's first day on the job.

Chapter 3

It was eight o’clock sharp when Caramel stood in front of Ponyville’s clock shop. The amber Earth Pony took a deep breath before entering. Time Turner was already inside sitting by his workbench and handling a clock. The brown stallion looked up when the door chimed.

“Good morning, Caramel. Ready for you first day at your new job?” he asked and rose up.

“Yes, yes, thank you again so much for this, you’ve saved my hide,” Caramel said with a grin. Turner didn’t notice that it was a bit strained as he was putting the tools away before walking around the counter.

It wasn’t until Turner was standing face to face with his brand new employee that he realized he had no idea what to do. The stallion was so used to never having anyone working for him and being his own boss. It really never occurred to him that there were few more steps in the process than just welcoming him to work.

Caramel on the other hand was waiting for the usual tour around the new workplace, signing the contract and the usual warning of ‘you break it, there is the door, go ahead and kick yourself out’. He started to shift a little uneasily when few seconds had already passed in silence, aside from the ticking of all the clocks around him.

“I uh… guess I should show you around,” Time Turner finally spoke, realizing himself that he hadn’t said a word while trying to think of something.

“Yes, that’s usually what happens.” The other stallion nodded.

“Right, let’s see now,” the brown pony turned around and gestured around the store with one hoof.

“This is pretty much the main area; here are most of the clocks for sale on display. There are also watches in the display case on the counter.” he started the tour.

“In the back there is a small delivery room where imported clocks arrive and there is also storage for clocks waiting for space in the store. I also keep the clocks I’m fixing there and haven’t gotten around to yet.” Time Turner walked to the back of the shop and opened the backdoor to show Caramel the rooms he spoke of.

“Clocks I’ve finished fixing I keep here under the counter, ready for customers to come and pick them up. I usually work on the workbench fixing clocks while waiting for customers, so feel free to bring a book or a magazine or something to read.” Turner showed him the space under the counter where few fixed clocks of various sizes waited their owners.

“I do not expect you to do any clock repair. I’ll handle all of that. But you will be working the cash register, there are price tags on the clocks and you will also hand over clocks being picked up by customers and receive broken clocks and give them to me,” he explained how Caramel would be working.

“Sounds good,” the amber pony nodded eagerly. “So where do I sign?”

“Sign? Oh a contract, of course,” Turner palmed his face with one hoof. “Look, I’ll have to get help writing that one up and I’ll have it ready tomorrow for you to sign.”

“Alright sounds good to me, I’m just glad to be at work,” Caramel chuckled. “You really are new at being an employer.”

“You have absolutely no idea.” The other stallion shook his head and gestured to the counter. “Well you can sit down there, but if you want to run out to get a magazine or a book first that’s alright.”

“No, no I’ll be fine for now,” Caramel assured him and hurried to sit behind the counter, whistling happily.

Time Turner shrugged and returned to the workbench and sat down. He was currently in the middle of a delicate operation of changing the clock mechanics of Tootsie’s clock into a proper one. He had already stripped the innards of most of the old gears and was replacing them with better ones from his own stock of spare parts, putting them all in far more proper and efficient places to correctly run a clock.

The stallion was not too absorbed in his work to forget his new employee. Turner had already trained himself not to forget himself completely, it was important to able to jump to the counter if a customer came.

“So, how is Sassaflash?” he asked casually. He was familiar enough with Caramel though they were acquaintances at best. It was difficult not to know at least something about everyone living around such a small town.

Turner looked up when there was no reply. He looked over to the counter and saw Caramel hanging his head looking gloomily down at the floor. The amber stallion had been examining the contents of the display counter when the question came.

“Caramel? Are you alright?” he asked concerned and rose from the workbench once more.

“I’m… um fine,” Caramel mumbled and rubbed his left front leg with his right hoof.

“You don’t sound fine, something happened?” Turner walked over and sat down near the glum stallion.

“Oh it’s nothing, really, honestly.” The amber pony tried to grin but it barely lasted a second before it broke back down into a sad frown. “She broke up with me.”

Caramel sighed deeper and hung his head even lower towards the floor. The pony had been so certain if he could land a job immediately after losing his last one everything would be fine. It hadn’t turned out that way at all.

“She said she couldn’t stay with someone who can’t stick to one job for more than few months. I tried to tell her I already had a new job lined up, but she didn’t care and her mom just asked how long it would last until you threw me out as well,” he sniffed. The stallion was trying not to cry, especially in front of another male but life was just so unfair right now.

“Well you aren’t fired yet,” Time Turner pointed out and smiled reassuringly. “And now you have a chance to prove them wrong.”

“True,” Caramel agreed, his sad frown lifting a little.

“And I personally want this to work. You see, I was thinking a lot about this new arrangement last night. With you helping me in the shop, handling customers who are just coming to buy clocks or picking up fixed ones, I have much more time to repair clocks and work on designs I’ve been wanting to do,” the brown pony continued gesturing towards his workbench.

“I’m sorry though that she broke up with you. I know you mostly begged me for a job yesterday to show her you had a new job already even after losing your last one. But if you don’t feel like working today, you don’t have to.”

“No, I got nothing better to do and rather not hang around Ponyville moping,” Caramel assured him, he was feeling a little better.

“If you are sure, it’s really not a problem. You haven’t even signed a contract yet anyway,” Time Turner told him.

The chime of the bell interrupted them and the two ponies looked towards the door. A green stallion with a blue mane was entering the shop. He had an image of a spinning top as a cutie mark. When Caramel saw who the newly arrived was he gasped in shock and ducked behind the counter.

Time Turner eyed the amber pony skeptically for a second before returning his attention to the customer. He did recognize him as the owner of the toyshop but couldn’t quite recall his name just at the moment.

“Was that Caramel I saw ducking behind your counter?” the green pony asked unsure while walking closer.

“Yes it was,” Time Turner sighed and nudged at the amber pony covering beside him and told him to get up. Slowly Caramel obeyed grinning nervously. His new boss just shook his head, but the old one didn’t look too impressed.

“Hello Mr. Top Spin,” the amber stallion greeted his former employer nervously.

“Huh, I hope you know what you are getting yourself into by hiring him,” Top Spin snorted. It almost caused Caramel to sink back down behind the counter but Time Turner prevented him by putting one hoof on his shoulder.

“Can we help you?” the brown stallion asked hiding his irritation. He put emphasis on the ‘we’.

“Doubt he can, but I sure hope you can. I’m in a bit of a fix that I hope you can help me with,” Top Spin grunted. Caramel’s ears flopped down and the stallion again wished he could disappear.

Time Turner held back a sigh, so much for trying to give his new employee an encouraging pep talk when said employee’s former employer comes along to talk him down. But the stallion had been a shop owner long enough to know you had to deal with overbearing customers sometimes.

“Thanks to that idiot over there, a whole lot of merchandise was damaged beyond repair. We had to throw it away, but we think we can still salvage the clocks if you could fix them,” Top Spin explained giving Caramel a slight glare, the amber stallion chuckled nervously.

Clocks… wait… oh no. Time Turner had to sum up all his willpower not to recoil in horror. He remembered what kind of merchandise it was Caramel had damaged by accident and that meant the clocks the toyshop owner was referring to could only be one thing.

“It’s about twenty Wonderbolt clocks we think that can be fixed,” Top Spin told him.

Twenty? The brown pony wasn’t sure how he managed to hold back a jaw drop.

It was tempting to outright refuse on principle, but in plain sight on his workbench was Tootsie’s alarm clock. It would look very stupid if he said he didn’t fix these clocks with that one sitting there and clearly contradicting his statement, even if it had been a rare exception he accepted to fix that one.

“Look I… ah…” Turner really regretted having his workbench out in the open and not in a backroom. Of course it had been impossible to do it otherwise before.

“Can you at least take a look at them and see if they can be saved?” Top Spin asked impatiently, tapping one hoof on the floor.

“Fine, sure,” Time Turner sighed, knowing there was no way he could refuse. “Have them sent over.”

“I already had the crate put behind your shop, figured you wouldn’t mind,” the green pony said and started towards the door. “Thanks Mr. Hooves.”

“Turner… my name is Time Turner,” the clockmaker said between his teeth but either Top Spin didn’t hear it or he ignored it. The brown stallion then added. “Caramel and I will look into it.”

“Great, just make sure the klutz doesn’t break any more of them,” Top Spin snorted before leaving the shop.

The two stallions behind the counter watched the green one leave, their eyes didn’t leave the door until it closed and the door chime fell silent. Then Time Turner slowly turned his head to look at Caramel, the amber pony still had his ears down and looked again pretty much like a beaten puppy.

“How long did you work for this pony?” Turner asked. He just couldn’t conceive how any sane pony would endure that jerk.

“Three months,” Caramel responded and turned his head to his new boss.

“How? Why?” the brown stallion was amazed that it was possible to work for three months with Top Spin.

“Because unemployment sucks,” his employee tried to grin but it was very weak.

“Good answer,” Turner had to admit that money was probably the only reason anyone would suffer such verbal abuse. He glanced over to the delivery room. “Come on, let’s survey the damage.”

“What about the store?” Caramel asked standing up as Time Turner did.

“We’ll hear it if anypony comes,” the brown Earth Pony stated and trotted to the back door.

The two stallions entered the small delivery room and Turner opened the door leading out to the backside of his shop. There stood the crate Top Spin had talked about; the large wooden box was marked in clear red letters ‘FRAGILE’. The two ponies walked out and Time Turner regarded it critically before flipping the lid off to see inside.

Inside the clockmaker saw a large pile of blue Wonderbolt clocks. Each one had a different image of a member of the famous aeral team on the face. Caramel peeked inside but with a grimace, remembering quite well why this pile of broken clocks now stood behind Time Turner’s shop.

Time Turner reached into the box to pick up one clock. Carefully he shook it and could hear rattling noise inside. The clock arms were loose and going back and forth on the round glass protection of the face. The stallion sighed and threw the device back down into the crate and looked at Caramel.

“Just because the case of the clock is not broken he thinks these can be salvaged. We are going to have to check every clock to see if it’s all the same problem, if it is he’s not going to like the news I’ll be giving him,” Turner said. His employee looked at him questionably.

“What? What’s wrong?” Caramel wondered.

“Clocks are delicate and complicated devices, you don’t just cobble together some gears and springs and hope it works. One spring out of alignment, one gear in the wrong place and the clock is ruined,” Time Turner explained and began trying to lift the crate, the other stallion helped and together they managed to carry it inside. There the clockmaker continued, picking up another Wonderbolt clock.

“Clocks aren’t toys; they are precise measuring instruments of time itself. The most complicated and advanced clocks can measure time down to nanoseconds. They are like the musical instruments of science; the tick they make is like we have given time a voice of its own. To make that work we must carefully craft the device, each part has a purpose to make the music. It has to be orchestrated with great care and precision. You don’t play a piano just by hammering your hooves on the keys and hope it resembles a song. You must know exactly which key to play and with clocks you must know where each part has to be for the clock to work and… I have completely lost you haven’t I?” Turner noticed that Caramel was staring at him blankly.

“Aaah I… well… clocks are complicated, yes got that,” the amber pony quickly sped out when he realized his employer had noticed the complete lack of understanding.

“It’s alright, sorry, I guess I take clocks a bit seriously,” Time Turner said and put the clock down.

“Looks like you have something to keep you busy, pick up every clock out of the crate and shake it gently to see if the gears are loose. Then put them on the shelf over there for now, tell me if a clock does not rattle or shows no sign of having gears loose. I’ll then open the case and ascertain what the problem is,” he instructed Caramel who nodded and began doing exactly what told.

Time Turner returned to the store proper and went back to repairing Tootsie’s clock. He had done a great deal of work already both yesterday and this morning before Caramel arrived. Right now the stallion was making sure the alarm mechanics were all probably set. Now with a new employee the clockmaker almost expected being able to finish this one ahead of schedule.

“Eighteen clocks, all rattling,” Caramel announced after a while, standing in the doorway of the back room.

“Right good,” Time Turner nodded and continued to work for a second but then he halted and looked up. “Eighteen? Weren’t they twenty?”

Caramel blinked and glanced back into the delivery room. He slowly backed in again and shortly after the clockmaker could hear frantic counting. The brown Earth Pony rose up from his workbench, walked towards the backroom and peeked inside. Caramel was counting every Wonderbolt clock on the shelf with a panicked expression.

“Eighteen…nineteen…twenty,” the amber pony finished and sighed in great relief. “Twenty clocks, there are twenty clocks.”

“That sounds more right yes,” Time Turner nodded. “And they all rattle when you shake them gently?”

“Yes,” Caramel confirmed.

“Then it’s most likely that all have loose gears and possibly damaged one,” Turner mused. “I’ll need more spare parts, Top Spin will not like hearing that.”

“Oh? Why?” his employee asked sounding mildly confused.

“I need to order them, I don’t have spare parts for twenty clocks, five maybe, ten if I stretch it but not twenty. That’s additional cost on the bill, so this is not going to be cheap for him,” the brown pony explained.

“Ah of course,” Caramel nodded, but slowly his expression changed from that of understanding to utter horror.

“He’s going to dock that off my back pay,” he gasped and slumped down to sit.

“What? No, I’m sure he won’t do that,” Time Turner tried to sound assuring but didn’t sound too convincing. The stallion had seen what Top Spin thought of Caramel and the amber pony was probably all too right. The toy shop owner would most likely dock the pay he still owed him for the damage.

Turner entered the room fully and took a moment to examine the clocks. He could of course also just report that they were damaged beyond repair, but that would only mean Top Spin would dock Caramel’s pay to order new ones.

He looked at Caramel who was right in the middle of the process of cursing his bad luck lately. The clockmaker couldn’t blame him, in the span of only 24 hours the pony had lost his job, lost his girlfriend and was at risk of losing his pay from his previous job. He almost wished he had the funds to pay his employee a little in advance, if only to cheer him up a little.

“Come on, it’s almost time for lunch, I’ll pay for it,” Time Turner offered and managed to prod Caramel to stand up again.

The two stallions left the delivery room in silence. Turner glanced at the clocks and saw it was bit early to really call it lunch, but he figured both could use the break and get a bite to eat early. They left the store and the brown pony put up the ‘out on lunch’ sign before they both headed for the café.

End chapter 3.

Author's Note:

This chapter was supposed to be up last week but I just got busier than I expected. But here it is now.