The watchmaker sleeps with a clockwork replica of his estranged wife, winding her before retiring, she purrs to her stirring cogs, snorts and fidgets in a mechanical slumber.
Some nights he can’t sleep, and during those he can’t he watches the bats like heavy apples on the wing, conkers swinging on loose dark strings. Some nights he can sleep, and during those he can he only dreams in glimpses and snatches, being awoken on the hour by a pre-programmed stray kick (he then takes the key from the bedstead and swings it and swings it and swings it and swings it around the small of her back).
The watchmender imagines his estranged wife has discovered her clockwork counterpart, he imagines she is outraged and has sent him a summons, he imagines he will have to unearth his watchdoctor uniform and defend his actions in the dock.
The watchmaker has built a clockwork court, a whirring appendix to his parched garden, with a wind-up judge and jurors, counting seconds with her gavel, questioning, listening, pondering, driven by fine drums of rational enquiry and conclusion.
The clockwork bailiffs have wax hands and the eternal starch of a uniform carved out of pine. They threaten the watchhealer with their wooden feet bolted to the court floor and beckon him periodically to unfasten their backs and examine their copper bowels.
The proceedings, driven by a series of shafts and wheels, always trundle out the same. The verdict on each occasion rolling over the tungsten tongues of the jurors, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, whilst an estranged wife slumbers stretched over the stand, kicking a stray leg in the watchmender's direction (who fetches the key from the bedstead and swings it and swings it and swings it and swings it around the small of her back).