The closer Derek got to the Templeton ranch the more anxious he
became. By the time he pulled up in front of the stone ranch house, his insides had twisted themselves into knots. He was reminded of the first time he had fired his gun.
Relax, Derek. Just go and find out what the man needs.
Derek slid out of the Saab and looked around. There was no one in sight. A deer grazed lazily in the meadow behind the house; bees hummed somewhere nearby. But no golden retriever bounded to meet him. His anxiety deepened. Still he reached back into the car for the wrapped beef shank. When he turned back, the front door of the house had opened.
The husky man in overalls seemed almost a stranger to Derek; gone was the characteristically broad smile, the all-welcoming manner. Richard Templeton was clearly a troubled man.
“Richard, what’s wrong?”
“Derek, something happened to—“His voice faded as if the effort to speak was draining. He cleared his throat.
“Let’s go to the barn,” he finally said. “I got some nice clocks to show you.”
Derek half opened his mouth to ask again what the urgent phone call had meant, then closed it. Richard would tell him in his own time; in his own way.
Derek followed the older man to a barn-cum-workshop a few yards from the house. Inside, a dozen grandfather clocks made from red cherry wood stood in a neat row behind a workbench.
They were meticulous pieces of work, their ruddy wood glowing with a fine oil polish, their brass pendulums, chains, and hands gleaming beneath the workshop lights. They were a reflection of the man, himself, of his attention to detail, his patience.
“You make one hell of a clock,” Derek observed. He extended his hands to Richard, smiling tentatively.
Richard took the hand in his own firm grip and shook it.
“It’s good to see you, Richard, and I brought a bone for Jake.”
Richard nodded. “Thanks for the thought…tell you what, let’s have a drink. You must be thirsty after that long drive.”
Yet another detour? “Richard…”
“Come on into the house.” Richard turned and led the way through his vegetable garden to the wood frame and stone building he called home.
He walked, Derek thought, like an old man.
They shared ginger beer in Richard’s splendid living room. Hand-woven rugs graced the highly polished plank floors.
Only half-finished with his drink, Derek placed his glass next to Richard’s untouched one on the ornate coffee table. As if aware of Derek’s expectancy, the older man stood and crossed to the fireplace mantel, where he fingered a photograph in a rustic brass frame. It was a picture of him and Jake sitting in the front seat of his Land Rover.
“Tell me,” Derek said quietly.