The Box

The Box

A Story by Patches I'm not so new anymore.

For Armistice Day.... The Other side


It wasn't very large, the box, oblong in shape, wooden maybe 30.48CM in length and half again as wide and about 15.24 CM deep.
Squared off, not shaped like a miniature coffin. Nothing extraordinary about it, a simple wooden box to hold whatever the owner wished to place inside. It had a sliding cover that fit into grooves cut or rather chiseled the entire length on both sides. On the bottom of the lid there was a mirror showing that at one time the box most likely belonged to a long dead female of the family. When Johann looked into the mirror there, smiling back at him was a ruddy cheeked bright brown-eyed boy with blond hair almost the color of honey.
The box was very old and highly polished or perhaps just worn smooth with use and "polished" by much handling. One sliver of wood was missing from the top left hand corner and one from the right, on the other end, so that no matter which way someone looked at it there were nicks that were always on either side.
Were they random, or purposely incised into the wooden lid? Nine year old Johann didn't have a clue. He had taken the box from his uncle's room when the family learned that Uncle Klaus would not be returning from the Western Front after the failed Unternehmen wacht am Rhein* or the "Battle of the Bulge" as the enemy press had named the last gasp of the German army attempting to break out of the ever tightening cordon of invaders surrounding Germany.
When Johann had slid the cover back and peered inside, he wasn't too surprised to see that it was empty. There was, however something very odd the box was heavy... or at least Johann found it to be. He turned it over but the bottom was sealed, no hidden catches. Yet there was a distinct feel that something had shifted when he turned it over. He gave it a shake and there was a clinking sound of medal sliding/bouncing against medal.
Johann examined the box closely but could find no cuts, grooves, or anything that might resemble another way to open the box other than sliding the top along the chiseled groove at the top and that showed only an empty cavity.
His curiosity whetted, Johann felt along the entire inside length and ends of the box. Smooth as glass, nothing to indicate that this was anything but an empty keepsake box except for it's weight and the muffled noise made when the box was shaken.
Johann decided to measure the box from the inside so brushing his honey-colored hair back from his forehead he took the rule and found, much to his surprise that from the groove which the top lid slid into to close the box to the bottom of the cavity was only10.16 cm leaving another 5.08 cm to indicate that the box indeed had a false bottom. But how to remove that bottom was presenting a problem. As close as Johann had studied the box he found no way to be able to wedge anything into the bottom and lift it so that he could see what was hidden beneath.
So intent was his concentration that he failed to hear his mother call him to dinner. It was such a surprise when he heard the door to his room open that he dropped the box on one corner edge and the false bottom leapt out, there on the rug beside his bed were eight gold Reich Marks dated from before the Nazis came to power, a set of wedding/engagement rings silver, not gold, A small photograph of Uncle Klaus in his civilian suit with that outlandish white, broad brimmed Stetson cowboy hat atop his head that he had brought back from the United States when he visited there in 1927 standing next to some lady Johann vaguely remembered seeing a few times during Uncle Klaus' visits home while on leave, Johann remembered her dressed in a brown skirt and jacket with a Swastika armband on the jacket sleeve. There was also a political handbill from the late 19th century showing the Kaiser and Chancellor Bismarck, written on the reverse was the signature of Kaiser Wilhelm II & a short two paragraphs extolling the bravery of Unteroffizer* Sigmund Von Gloria in rescuing five of his comrades-in-arms from behind Italian lines. Along with two Iron Crosses from WW I awarded to Uncle Klaus' father Sigmund, Johann's grandfather.

*Unternehmen wacht am Rhein--- Watch on the Rhine
*Unteroffizer--- Corporal

© 2014 Patches I'm not so new anymore.

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Added on November 11, 2014
Last Updated on November 16, 2014