Nice finds — new writers and old wristwatches

I found a watch recently — a somewhat nice watch, in fact — on Birmingham’s south side. The timepiece, fairly scuffed-up in several spots along the outer edges and band and no longer ticking, took only a visit to the watchman’s kiosk in a local mall to confirm that it needed no more than a battery to get it going again. It was a nice find, worth perhaps a few hundred bucks and a nice piece of a place to take with me as I planned a move north a couple hundred miles to Nashville, Tenn., with THE2NDHAND’s south co-HQ next month. That’s right, new address to which to send submissions, ephemera, get-well-soon cards, and etc. will be here:

Todd Dills, THE2NDHAND, 1430 Roberts Ave., Nashville, TN 37206.

As for the time, I imagined a zootsuited smooth-jazzman heard one hip-hop song too many and, fed up with underattendance at his Ona’s Lounge shows in this increasingly infantilistically musical society, took his jazzman’s vengeance on the dying watch, tossed out the window of a 1980s vintage Cadillac one lonely night.

Who knows how long it laid on the street before I found it — the dirty film on its polished-stainless-steel band would suggest at least a night in the rain.

In any case, my thoughts about what to do with the watch were less clear, by which I mean should I inquire with the police about watches reported stolen, should I sell it, sit on it, wear it and wait for the day some guy pulls me aside at a party and demands that I return his watch or we’re going out back to play fisticuffs for it?

I visited the police station and, ridiculously, ended up asking whether they had a lost-and-found after a postively belly-shaking laugh from the otherwise curt gentleman manning the south-side district station in response to my question of what to do with the watch. “Does it fit? Does it work? If I were you,” he said, “I’d keep it. Somebody leaves their watch on the sidewalk with a dead battery and all scuffed up? You think that person deserves that watch?”

“I  paid for the new  battery,” I said.

“You have motherfucking claim,” he said.

“Have their been any watches reported stolen?”

“Always watches reported stolen. Nothing like this, really, mostly women’s watches. Easier to get at, to, off.”

“Is there a lost-and-found?” I said and, though laughing through the entire exchange, the officer nearly keeled over with hysterics at this one.

“You really want to give this thing up, don’t you? I tell you what, I like the watch myself. What if I told you it was mine, that it was stolen right off my wrist and that I can identify it positively not by any serial number of engraving but by the scuff-mark here, which was made by my wife when she caught me cheating…”

He went on. I didn’t give it to him, suffice to say, but I wasn’t anything closer to resolution. Ultimately, I guess what I’m saying is: if you’re a Bhammer and are missing your watch, I might well have it.

***I know better the provenance of several writers — gems, jewelry in and of themselves – who have for increasingly lengthy stretches gone unnoticed in my submissions inbox this past year. After my child — now a year old, and walking and soon-to-be talking in sentences recognizable at least to her parents, if no one else — was born May 2008 and my response time to submissions immediately jumped a month or two, I nonetheless have been delighted by several new multi-instance contributors to our online magazine since, even if they’ve been longer in discovering here. (I’m back down to about a month and a half, though, to any contributors reading this.) 

Philadelphia’s Michael Peck, for instance, who’s playing with well-established styles and making them his own, William Gaddis’s in “The Pickpocket” and in the highly original “Last Orchard in America” piece I hear echoes of Barry Hannah and Denis Johnson.

Chicagoan Heather Palmer, meanwhile, will have another stylistically experimental yet ultimately powerful story published at THE2NDHAND.com quite soon and will be joining my colleague Mr. C.T. Ballentine, Paul Lask, Jill Summers and others at the Hungry Brain July 13. Click here for details.

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