by: Moose Tyler
The clock on top of the American Felt Building on 13th and 3rd in New York City chimes every fifteen minutes. The chime isn’t a happy, melodious song like those floating from churches during baby baptisms or on wedding days. It's an ominous thud of a gong that strikes three times every quarter, except the last quarter when it strikes the number of times equivalent to the hour it’s proclaiming.
The chime's tone is not the kind of detail you’d notice down on the street where the noise is thick as saran wrap bubbled around Union Square. The detail is only something you’d notice twenty stories up, sipping drinks with an old friend, discussing the changes the last four years have made.
The chime is shocking when first heard, not because of the volume but because you wonder why you never heard it before.
Instantly you think it must be new, something built since last you were here, quickly thrown together in the amount of time it takes to fix another round for two, but then you see the building on which the clock sets. It’s sharp in shape, and the cold marble towers over smaller buildings made of warmer brick.
The numbers on the clock’s face are thick and bold, classic Times Roman, and the hands have turned tinges of orange and red as if the metal were leaves weathering years of sticky summers burning into bitter falls.
In the amount of time it takes to analyze the architecture of the building the gong strikes again, three times, with an excruciating pause between each chime, notifying you that fifteen minutes of your life has just been spent staring at a clock.
Rubber shrieks from down below as a taxi’s front fender smashes the taillight of another cab that's waiting for three NYU students to strut across the street, two of them rails dressed in baby doll dresses, chokers, and strapped pumps, clutching slivered cell phones and glitzy bags large enough for a pack of Marlboro Lights, a lighter, a tampon, and a tube of lipstick. The third girl is thicker, dawning flats, a balloon skirt, halter top, pearls, and carrying a large leopard bag bulging with two bottles of water, chewing gum, a bank pen, scraps of receipts and to-do lists, three digital cameras, and the other two girls’ wallets.
The gaggle barely notice the accident as the don’t walk hand blinks red. The conversation about whether the right boy is at Art Bar or an Irish pub uptown drowns the two cab drivers’ native tongues darting back and forth with flicks of English slang to accentuate the point that the other was to blame for the accident. Their forgotten passengers grow impatient and appalled by the major oversight that the meter is still running.
The chime gongs again as if the clock isn’t rigged to an electronic keypad, but rather manned by an ancient, ominous figure looming, belting on the inside of the bell, signaling that another fifteen minutes has just slipped into the past.