I was always afraid to go up into the Attic yet I loved going down into the cellar. The big brick house on the hill had many rooms and many staircases. From my bedroom it was two more flights up to the attic. Terrifying. The attic door was always kept locked. With a brass Skeleton key in it. Waiting for someone to turn it.
Wilber lived in the attic. I don't think the correct word would be "lived" because Wilber was dead. Wilber had lived in this house over 100 years ago when it was first built. And he died in this house. Old, Alone, & Forgotten. Wilber never scared me but the attic did. And the skeleton key. At night while all seven of us were asleep Wilber would move stuff around hide keys and wallets and unscrew light bulbs just enough so they wouldn't turn on. It was always fun to wake up and see what Wilber had been up to during the night.
The attic had bees in it. Dead and alive. Simon came to the big brick house on the hill every morning. To work. Except Sundays.
Mother always said "Simons' somewhat simple". I never thought so. Several times a year Mother would have Simon go up into the attic and clean out all the dead bees. Nothing scared Simon. And when I was with Simon I wasn't afraid. He'd start up the stairs and wait for me at the first landing. "come on if you're comin' Thommy boy I ain't got all day". I thought this was funny because he did have all day. I'd run up the first flight and by then Simon was turning the skeleton key. Up the second flight and into the attic. Buzzin' bees all over the stained glass windows and dead bees all over the hard wood floor.
I loved Mothers cedar chest.
It also had a skeleton key left in the lock and I'd turn it. This one didn't scare me. Inside was Mothers life. Several different colors of Mothers hair tied up in string. Love letters Father sent from Germany during the war. Dolls from Mothers childhood. Photographs. Strange coins from other countries. Mothers wedding gown. And money. Lots of Money.
Grand Ma Ma never trusted banks. What she did trust was Mothers cedar chest, the attic, the skeleton key, me & Simon.
Grand Ma Ma would drive up the hill-park- come inside and only if they others weren't home pull a paper sack out of her purse and say "Simon go lock this up in Marie's cedar chest for me and take a couple dollars for yourself" always followed with "you be careful round those bees ya hear me Simon-I don't won't you gettin' stung on my account" "yes ma'am Miss Carrie" Simon would say. Back up five flights of stairs with Simon once again saying "hurry up Thommy boy I ain't got all day" But he did. Simon had all day everyday. Except Sundays. I never knew what Simon did on Sundays but I know what I never did. Go up in to the attic. Years later after attending Mothers funeral the five of us were once again at the big brick house on the hill. And so was Simon. Simon was old alone and mostly forgotten. But not by me. Simon said "Mr Thom ya ain't forgot about Miss Marie's cedar chest have ya-- you knowed she wanted you to have it" I looked up at Simon smiled and said "will you help me bring it down from the attic Simon" "I'll sure help ya Mr Thom but it's been down in the cellar for a many year now. Miss Carrie said it was easier for me to get at ever time she'd be a wantin' me to put a little somein in it." Mother was wrong. Simon wasn't simple. And I always loved going down into the cellar.
Mother. I adored her!
Ya all come back now. Ya hear!