My daddy carried a King Edward Imperial Cigar Box back and forth from his office every day. The box rested casually on our dining table from the time he arrived home each evening until he left the next morning.
When I was a small child, I thought it carried treasures. Actually, the box served as a petty cash box for Byrd’s Auto Sales.
The box contained cash and checks. Sometimes I saw bills folded neatly with handwriting scrawled on them. I knew this because I peeked inside the box from time to time. Curiosity got the best of me. I wanted to see the treasure.
King Edward was as much a part of my childhood as anything. It was a symbol of my daddy. The box held a certain amount of security because if it was on the table, then Daddy was home.
Being home meant he sometimes trailed in after we had eaten supper. He would eat his and then sit at the little dining table in our kitchen—the one his mother had in the very same kitchen—and make business calls, negotiating car deals with people.
The drum of his voice in the kitchen “after hours” was another form of security. The pages of our phone book had symbols and drawings all over them. Daddy doodled as he talked. He drew triangles—connected to one another. And eights. One after the other.
Daddy picked up that box each evening from the corner of his desk at the office, a very male domain with papers scattered atop his desk, sexy pin up calendar on the wall, and a manual typewriter sitting on the return. His hands wrapped around it and carried it to the car, his thumb resting at the edge of the box to keep it from spilling the contents.
His car functioned as a chariot for the treasure box, carrying it home to its resting place each evening.
On occasion, Daddy would reach inside King Edward and pull out a dollar bill to give to me or my brother. Like I said, it was a treasure box to me.
I don’t know what happened to that box. I wish I had it. More than likely, it was sitting on his desk the night he died. You see, he never made it back to the office to pick it up when he went home.
He left the office that afternoon to go to a car sale in Waycross. He left the car sale that night and went straight to the emergency room. He didn’t see the sun rise the next morning.
I imagine King Edward sitting on his desk wondering why he didn’t come back. Just sitting there. Quietly holding the contents of the day. A few bills. A check or two. Some coins laying in the bottom.
Mother sold his part of the business to his partner later. I used to avoid driving by the car lot. It was too painful to see the cars lined up and the colorful triangles blowing in the wind.
I didn’t have the forethought to go to the office and get a few things from his desk. It never occurred to me at the time that I would wish I had two things.
His typewriter. And his King Edward cigar box.