Arthur does not fidget; its an unbecoming habit, and it gives away too much about a person.
Instead, Arthur either clenches his hand around his totem, hidden safely in his pocket, or he obsessively checks the time.
These days, if he is wearing the right suit for it, he checks the time by dipping his hand into his waistcoat pocket and pulling out the Wonderland watch.
The Wonderland watch is a twenty-three-jewel double-face skeleton chronometer pocket watch with an engraving of the Mad Hatters tea party on the front and the weeping Gryphon and Mock-Turtle on the rear. Every half hour, the Cheshire Cats smile rotates into visibility among the cogs.
Like many of the most pointless and whimsical (and perfectly wonderful) things in Arthurs life, the Wonderland watch entered by way of Eames, left in his mailbox in the downstairs lobby of his apartment building in Los Angeles. The only indication of its sender is the inscription on the inside of the front face: For Darling Arthur.
Its almost impossible to read the Wonderland watch without knowing its secrets (Arthur often wonders what sort of demented masochistic clock-maker would design such a thing, let alone be able to certify that its accuracy is high enough to earn the official classification of chronometer), but Arthur enjoys the extra challenge involved. As a bonus, there arent many people in the world who would be able to fake it in a dream, so it makes a good secondary totem.
First, its face has thirteen numbers, which are drooping, shuffled, or fallen to the bottom (where the Caterpillar contentedly smokes among them). The only number in its proper place is the thirteen, at the very top.
Second, its action and gears were all painstakingly made and assembled to run backward, so a flamingo croquet mallet chases a hedgehog ball counter-clockwise around the face.
Third, it only ticks three of every five seconds, like a staggering heartbeat (an oddly lulling, peaceful noise
). Whether this is a noise created for effect or has something to do with a cleverly shaped cogwheel, Arthur has no idea.
Fourth, it has a small calendar complication at the bottom that is, in fact, three days slow (Arthur knows how to reset it, but thats not the point).
Fifth, the dial of the watch is exactly one hour and seven minutes fast compared to Pacific Standard (this too could be reset, but again thats not the point).
These are all the secrets hes found so far, and its enough to let him tell the time except under very odd circumstances (the Wonderland watch has stopped six times that he knows of, but always returned to the proper time [plus an hour and seven minutes] shortly thereafter).
So when he draws it from his pocket and deftly flicks it open, he can see (with some minor mental acrobatics) that Tak is almost twenty minutes late.
Someone trots up to where he waits under the bright rainbow lights of Yokohama.
Okay, okay, how late am I? Tak asks, pausing in front of him to adjust a fishnet stocking in a most unladylike manner.
He closes the watch and looks up. Before he can reply, he finds himself gawking at her.
Tak looks very different in a tiny dress and knee-high platform boots. The neon makeup around her eyes makes them look huge. Shes confident and dangerous in a way quite unlike her normal understated self. It strikes Arthur as odd that she seems to feel so safe dressed like that at night in the middle of a big city. Forgers, it seems, find the world more comfortable from behind a mask.
Oh, shut up, she says defensively, even though he hasnt spoken. I had to dance with the creep for half an hour before I managed to pick his stupid pocket. Wasnt even an ass worth groping
Arthur clears his throat. Twenty minutes, he says in answer to her first question. I hope you have what you need for the forgery.
That and moreI have a sample of the drug they were using to enhance subconscious militarization.
Yusuf will faint with glee.
She rolls her eyes. Chemistry nerds
How can you even tell time on that crazy thing? Doesnt it play tricks, like the Chronophage?
Absently, Arthur opens the Wonderland watch again and checks it. The hands are in the wrong place, but quickly twirl into position like students caught out of their seats when the teacher returns. Hm, he says. Its nine fifty-one. Almost fifty-two.
Tak pulls her cell phone out of her cleavage (Do women really do that? Arthur thinks incredulously) and looks at it. Huh. Show-off, she says, and her accent changes (no longer that nondescript American, now something like British-educated European). I told Cat youd be insufferable once you figured out how to read it, but he said something about that being half the fun.
He snaps the watch shut. I am not insufferable, Miss Golightly.
Ohoho, she scoffs, back to her usual accent. Lets go. Im starved, and its Mr. Cobbs turn to buy dinner.