When Mr. Fix-It-All opened his store sharp at eight in the AM, a long queue of creatures was waiting in front of the store window. The first one held an old electric oven. The next one brought a broken heart. There was a man who waited in a ramshackle car, followed by a dog with a broken leg. As always, Mr. Fix-It-All tended to their needs with a pleasant smile and gentle touch.
He fixed the electric oven in fifteen minutes. He took the broken heart from the woman, examined it, and told her that she would have to return the following day, because the heart needed some serious nursing and he would have to mix a healing potion. The man in the car had his transmission fixed in half an hour, while the dog with the broken leg needed a little more time to be mended.
At one point he looked at the clock and saw the time was half past eleven. He stood up from behind the counter and walked to the waiting queue. He stopped by a young tree that held a broken branch and dropped a red ribbon behind it. The crowd waiting behind the ribbon sighed and dispersed quietly. He felt sorry for them; but a day has only twenty-four hours and there are only so many problems he can fix in a day. He attended the customers till three in the afternoon. When the last creature left, he shut down the customer window and stayed at the store to take care of the things that needed a longer time to repair.
At half past eight, with all the pending work completed, he closed the store and walked home. He prepared dinner and sat down to eat. Two minutes into his dinner, the chair he was sitting on flattened. ‘Splat’ fell Mr. Fix-It-All with a spaghetti-curled fork. He moved to another chair and resumed his meal. After dinner, he cleared the table and washed the dishes.
He promptly went to the broken chair and examined it closely, trying to ascertain the cause. Not finding any, he began to repair the chair. In a house that was always spotlessly clean and in perfect working order, this event seemed like an anomaly. He pondered on this while he worked. After the chair was restored and replaced, he checked the remaining chairs and the dining table – just to ensure that there would not be a repeat performance.
He watched television till midnight and retired for the day. He woke at six in the morning and had coffee. Then he tended to a small but exquisite garden that surrounded the house. At precisely quarter to eight, his neighbors saw him walk to his store where a long line had already formed.
The following evening at dinner, the chair broke down once again. He moved to another chair and completed his meal. At the precise moment he finished his dinner and stood up, the chair he was sitting on fell flat to the ground. Mr. Fix-It-All was a little puzzled. He stepped on the scale to see if he had gained weight. Not an ounce. He fixed both the chairs and went to bed.
The next day Mr. Fix-It-All woke up at quarter past six. He was confounded to find that the grandfather clock had stopped. He spent less time in the garden that day and left for work, telling himself that he would take care of the clock after he returned from the store.
That evening he came home to find the entire dining set collapsed on the floor. Mildly irritated, he had his dinner at the coffee table in the living room. Then he reassembled the dining table, the chairs and mended the grandfather clock. It was way past midnight when we went to bed. The next day he woke up so late that he hastened to open the store on time without working in the garden.
When he returned home that evening, the dining table, the chairs, the coffee table and the television were broken. This perturbed Mr. Fix-It-All. He forgot his dinner and started to work on all the things that needed to be fixed. He worked well into the wee hours of the next morning and went to rest his aching back on the bed, when his bed broke down. That morning, a very haggard Mr. Fix-It-All dragged himself to work. Without restful sleep or a restive mind, Mr. Fix-It-All’s work started to get a little sloppy.
In the days that followed, Mr. Fix-It-All started dropping the red ribbon higher up the line, servicing less and less customers. Then came a day when he dropped the ribbon right before the first customer. The disgruntled lot moved away, grumbling.
Each day something new fell apart in his house and Mr. Fix-It-All had to take care of it. Pretty soon the house consumed him, so much that he neglected his store completely. He became obsessed with restoring his house to perfect working order.
Years passed by and weeds ate away his beautiful garden. The clean-shaven, dapper gentleman disappeared into the unshaven, unkempt, decrepit man, with matted hair and dirt, broken fingernails.
One day, after the world had lost all memory of a man called Mr. Fix-It-All, he finished his life’s obsession. The house was spotless and in perfect working order once again. He tended the garden and made it exquisite.
He shaved, showered and became dapper. There were several new creases on his face. There were calluses on his hands and feet, several scars and bruises covered his body. But nothing could diminish the pride that shone on his face as he stuffed his hands in his pockets and strutted around the house, savoring his triumph.
While he grinned happily and walked around, the grandfather clock that kept precise time with uneven arms, sneaked up and folded him in a tight embrace. Mr. Fix-It-All smiled one last time before melding into eternity.