The Vault Part I; Popcorn Piece.
Day Twenty of Thirty Days of Writing
This is our popcorn peice. Kat Fossell or Nicole Renee will be taking over where I end.
He’s dead. Can’t believe it. Hasn’t really sunk in. The funeral was two days ago, just last Wednesday, but I thought it’d hit by now. Maybe it’s because we barely talked.
I didn’t even know he had a safety deposit box. What could he possibly be keeping in there? I’ve never once gone with him to that bank, but taking me to the bank he deposited his customer’s checks into is a different bank on another side of town. This one is so totally out of the way. Not like him. Not like him at all. Strange. The will reading was even…stranger. So many conversations with him indicated that I’d be “written out” to quote him. I lost count of the number of times he’d declared I was no longer his son.
Stupid declaration considering you can’t override biology.
Kat and Nicole agreed to come with me. I’m not sure why I asked them. Seems like something I should do alone. But far be it from me to shed off offers of support at a time like this; after having gone so long without it.
“What do you think is in there?” Nicole asks from the passenger seat. She is in front, Kat is driving, and I’m in the back seat. Wouldn’t be right I thought to make Nicole sit in the back. Not sure why. But that was the thought. So we drive. We drive from the suburbs of Detroit down into the city itself. The city of reclamation and redemption. Fitting metaphor for most life. Detroit against the country. Life against the world. We get to the bank. It’s old. As old as any bank could be. Seems like a relic from the war the city got its name in, but of course it couldn’t be that old. How could it?
“Where should I park?” Said Kat.
“Find a place your car fits. No one will fuck with it. Cops don’t come here and your car is, forgive me, shitty enough no one will pay attention.” I said and we get out.
The Bank could so easily be misconstrued as a church. Old. Monolithic. It has a cross at the highest tower. Walking up the steps I remember the last fight we had. It was the last conversation we had.
“I’m sick of your lip. Your fucking disrespect.”
“You’re ignorant if you feel disrespected with out noticing how you’ve marginalized me,” I said “you’re an asshole and you know it, so don’t make this about how I’m making you feel.”
I got myself to the train that morning. He bailed on driving me. That was the last time I saw him breathing. The next would be in is coffin.
The three of us walk up the steps to the bank. There are large double doors made of solid wood. Brass handles. Opening one took all of my weight. Kat and Nicole watched. They let me lead. They’re there to be there because I want them to. Not because they need to be. I love them for that.
The hall of the bank is vast. Looking at the pillars leading up to the tellers an ancient mind set takes rest. Striding straight through and up to the tellers. The most modern looking objects in the space are the stanchions put in place to guide customers to the front. There is no one in line. There is no one in line. I skip them.
“I’m here to open safety deposit box 111188. It belonged to my father James. Here is the key, the order from his attorney and the permission from the court.” I say, sliding the key and accompanying documents under the grate. The teller examines them. She’s old. Stoic. Not moved by the fact she’s reading an order from the last will and testament of a now dead man. Her wrinkled brow stays unchanged when she looks up at me.
“This way.” She says and we follow down the row of teller windows to the right. She disappears from sight behind the columns. Reappearing. Disappearing. We reach a hallway. She emerges from a door. Dressed as stoic and studios as her face.
“This way” she says and leads with her hand. The hallway is long. Stark. No decoration of any kind; unlike the main hall. We go through three doors and walk down two flights of stairs.
“Was this building a church?” Said Kat.
“At some point yes, but the bank bought it when many of the buildings in Detroit went derelict.”
We come to the door. This door is the last and it isn’t only a door but the door to the vault. The vault. She puts in the combination and the old style vault handle turns on its own. A ghost turns it. Electricity may as well be a ghost down here. The hinged opening of the door is smooth. Silent. I’m drawn in only by the movement. We follow her in.
The room has two tables. Steel tops. Sterile. A doctor could operate on them. The teller walks to a locked hatch. Isn’t large, but it isn’t the smallest in the room. She unlocks it with the key I give her and slides the box out. Walks, box in hand to the table closest to the three of us. Sets it down.
“Take as much time as you need.” She says, and walks out.
“Man. This is exciting,” Kat says “sorry, I mean I know he’s dead but still.”
The box is flat. Obviously not absolutely flat; it is a box after all. But it’s color is flat. It doesn’t reflect any light at all.
“What do you think is in it?” Says Nicole.
“I have no idea. This is a side of him I never got to know. This whole thing is…not him. Not his M.O.” I say. I reach my finger under the lid of the opening side and lift it up. I don’t remember doing this, but I must have. Inside there’s only three things. Three things. One adds up. The other two are mysteries. There’s a bottle of liquor. Can’t tell what kind. There isn’t any label. It’s obviously old. There’s $100,000. Wrapped like any bank would and a handgun. A .38 caliber revolver. What the hell? Time stops. What the hell? Why would he want me to have any of this?
As the tsunami of thoughts run through my head the vault door closes. Us still inside.