Here’s an excerpt from my book. Chris Potter’s parents have both died and his is starting to go through their personal effects when he comes across something that may change his life forever. Hope you enjoy the read.
Too wound up to sleep, I decided to look through some more
paperwork, as well as stuff from the hall closet. A large box on
the top shelf caught my eye, so I climbed up on an old steamer
trunk, grabbed the box and brought it back to the living room,
setting it down on the coffee table.
All it held were old pictures, little ornamental figurines, and a
letter opener from some insurance company that probably didn’t
exist anymore, a small glass fishbowl that must have come from
the PNE—a prize for popping balloons with darts. The bowl still
had the little porcelain house in it that the fish used to swim
though. There was a pair of bronzed baby shoes as well—basically,
a bunch of junk.
All that was left in the box was a dull black metal box with a
small hasp and tiny lock. I shook the box. There was definitely
something inside. I checked the now empty cardboard box to see
if there was a key. No such luck. Mom had always kept a bunch
of the miscellaneous keys in a catch-all drawer in the kitchen.
Heading in there to check, I decided it was probably a good time
for a stiff rum and Coke, which I promptly drank down, and
ended up pouring myself a second. I didn’t find any keys, but I
did find a small screwdriver that might work. The other place it
could have been was one of the jewelry boxes in the bedroom,
so I headed there to investigate.
I felt like a thief, skulking through the house looking through
things. “Alexander Mundy. It Takes a Thief, starring Robert
Wagner, Tuesday nights on ABC,” I pronounced, using my best
It felt strange to be looking through my parents’ things. The
last time I did this was the year I got my Strombecker road race
set for Christmas. Found it in the bedroom closet and ended
up spoiling Christmas for myself. I always wondered if they
knew I had found it, or if I had done a good enough job of acting
surprised on Christmas morning.
I started looking for the key in Dad’s dresser caddy. Finding
nothing there, I tried Mom’s jewel case. I lifted the case out
of the drawer and sat on the bed with it on my lap. I knew it
certainly wasn’t full of diamonds or gold. A family ring, a lot of
junk costume jewelry, a nice pearl pendant that had belonged
to a great aunt who passed away years ago. Nothing else of any
consequence, there were some small suitcase keys but nothing
to fit the small black box.
I then noticed a small piece of cardboard sticking up at the
back of the case. Just the corner of a tag of some sort. As I pulled
on it, the entire bottom section of the jewellery case also lifted.
The piece of cardboard had an elastic band attached to a key.
It was not the key I was searching for, but it was intriguing.
There was no mistaking that the shape of the key had to be for a
safety deposit box. I held up the tag for a closer examination. The
card looked old, and was stamped on one side with the location of
where the key had come from: Vancouver Safety Deposit Vaults.
– 402 West Pender. On the reverse, in Dad’s precise penmanship,
was the box number.
“I’ll be a son of a bitch,” I declared, and then looked up at the
heavens. “Sorry, Mom. How long have you guys had this thing
lying around? I don’t remember anything about a private deposit
box. Come to think of it, there should be a safety deposit box up
at the corner at the Bank of Commerce.”
I grasped the key and returned to the living room. As I sat
down on the couch, the screwdriver in my back pocket jabbed
me, reminding me that my original intention had been to open
the black box. I used the screwdriver to pry it open the small
lock. There were four of the medals my dad had received after
World War Two. They were still in the original boxes. I was sure
he never wore them.
I thought about calling Vic to tell him about my find. Checking
the clock on the wall and realizing it was now 11:30, I decided it
could wait until he came in the morning.
The very bottom of the box had a lot of papers all neatly
stacked and stapled together. They were all original documents
from the purchase of my dad’s beloved 1967 four-barrel carb,
273-cubic-inch Barracuda, including the original build sheet
and invoice from Kingsway Plymouth Chrysler.
Thinking again about the safety deposit key, I grabbed
the phone book from under the telephone in the kitchen and
stretched out on the couch to see if the depository was still
around. I flipped through the white pages and sure enough,
there it was—Vancouver Safety Deposit Vaults. 402 West Pender,
555-7654. I set the phone book on the coffee table, picked up the
tag with the key attached again and examined it. The number on
the tag was unmistakably written by my dad. Number 383. There
were four small numbers engraved on the key but no identifying
marks to say that it had come from the same place as the tag.
The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson had just started. I didn’t
really hear his monologue or see his guest, George C. Scott. All I
heard was good old Ed McMahon giving his trademark “Heeeere’s
Johnny.” I must have drifted before he finished his set.