Playboy Fiction: Under the Clock

The second hand never stops sweeping at the Railway Hotel

Playboy Fiction

Playboy Fiction: Under the Clock

They meet by chance in the train station under the clock. “Is the noon train late?” he asks the smartly dressed woman standing there. “My wife is on it.” “It must be. I’ve been waiting here for my husband for nearly an hour.” Unlacing her knee-length boots in the Railway Hotel, she says, “My husband will come to the clock and wonder where I am.” In the hallway, people come and go, feet ticky-tocking on the wooden floor. It’s a quick-stop hotel. “One can’t wait forever,” he says, thinking about what he’ll tell his wife. The room, with its tattered pull-down window shades and chenille bedspread (it actually has cigarette burns!), has a romantic outdated dinginess that reminds her of old black-and-white movies, and she wonders if she has been drawn into this brief encounter because of them. His cute little mustache would fit right in! She removes her close-fitting chocolate suede jacket and peels down her tight velvet pants in the bathroom, while he hangs up his shirt and business suit and stretches out on the bed, remarking on time’s benevolent capriciousness. Time, she thinks, while touching up her eye shadow in the mirror, is just another wrinkle. And then another one. And so on.…

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