The city of Clock Bay was an enigma in many ways, particularly due to the fact that there wasn’t a bay for a hundred miles in any direction.
Nestled into the bucolic, rolling green hills that rose and fell in southwestern Ontario between three great lakes, two-ish hours northwest of Buffalo, New York, the small community of 24,000 people of mostly Irish and English ancestry managed to fly under the radar of most people and they liked it that way.
Nice enough to look at but not really a tourist destination. Plenty of jobs to sustain the population but never enough to really see it grow. Clock Bay and its people generally kept to themselves, worked hard during the week, drank and smoked hard on the weekends and periodically sought forgiveness at one of the six Catholic churches.
It was in 1925 that Clock Bay’s famous “World’s Largest Working Grandfather Clock – Clockowicious McGeary” (it’s true) was built as a monument in celebration of the city’s 100th anniversary – to the ongoing disdain and embarrassment of succeeding generations of Clock Bay teenagers who, with all the wit they could muster, often called it Cockowicious McDreary or simply the Big Cock.
Clockowicious McGeary was 32.2 feet tall according to the brass plaque near its base and designed in the art deco style popular in the day. What was not popular in the day (or any day) was the weird, somewhat creepy face built into it – as if some demented surgeon had cut Thomas the Tank Engine’s face off and placed it onto the Clock Bay monstrosity. The eyes seemed slightly demented as they ever so slightly looked off in different directions and a subtle furrowing of the brows made him seem a little angry all the time…as if a clock of his stature belonged in a bigger city with greater fortunes. Combined with the angular shadows cast up at a steep angle by the two over-bright spotlights at CM’s base and people would often cross to the other side of the street at night when going past.
Sadly in the post-war 40’s with the rapid advancement of technology someone had the wondrous idea of adding a weather station combined with a loudspeaker system which would blare the weather-inspired time on the hour in a high-pitched, hollow, slightly crazy voice –
“Hickory dickory dock it’s a sunny and warm 2 o’clock” or “Hickory dickory dock, its a cold and windy 6 o’clock”
There was a small, cramped, metal staircase the wound its way up to the top of the tower where people could step out onto a rectangular catwalk that circled the clock’s head like a crown and peer through coin operated metal binoculars at metropolitan Clock Bay. Through most of the 60’s and 70’s the binoculars offered a wondrous view of the old Clock Bay Gilded Lily Hotel – three floors perched on top of the famous Fireman’s Hose.
Many a tale of illicit adventure between the townspeople circulated amongst generations of teenage boys who rapidly learned the value of these optical wonders. Sadly the tales fell into myth after the old building burned to the ground in 1979 leaving nothing but a cracked and boring asphalt parking lot to stare at.
It was next to this parking lot that 62 year old Karl Brody wandered into the Sunny Side Up Cafe for a hot, shitty cup of coffee and a greasy plate of eggs and bacon in an attempt to recover from the previous night’s insanity.
“Geezus Karl you look like crap,” was the greeting he received from Milt as he wandered in…”an’ that’s sayin’ somethin’ considerin’ how you pretty much always look like crap.”
“Thanks bunches Milt…I love you too,” Karl returned. “Now how’s about you pour me some of that coffee you brew that tastes like you think I look huh?”