[Author's Note: this entry is first part of my National Novel Writing Month novel project in what I endeavor to be 50,000 words by month's end. The project, "My Fake Family History: Fictional People and Events that Shaped My Life", is truly a "Random Musing" where I am taking nuggets of factual events from my family's history and weaving them into fictional stories while exploring different writing styles. I may reveal to you, the reader, the truth now and then, but don't expect it all the time.]
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A Steampunk's Time Machine
There I was, sitting in the studio over the garage the other evening, looking over the myriad of projects in their varying stages of completion, when my eyes lingered upon the roll-top desk that once sat in my grandfather's house. Why had my eyes picked that moment to stare at the desk? Why did they linger? Perhaps some deeper part of my consciousness desired to start yet another project? The rest of me shuddered at the thought; I'm busy enough at present for two or three people.
To slake the thirst of project beast within, I walked to the desk, seeking the thing that drew my attention and held it fast. The desk, its outer shell a once-varnished thing of oaken beauty, was now coated in what I remember—from a few different conversations about the desk—to be World War II surplus gray paint from the naval shipyards of 32nd Street.
My grandfather was the master recycler, “repurposer”, and “upcycler”, and this desk symbolizes those aspects of his manner and personality to me. Thinking back to conversations about the desk with my mother, she did not know from where it was purchased, nor did she quite remember when it entered her family. All she could recall was that the desk always seemed to sit in the garage-shop of her childhood house on Church Avenue, serving the role of cash register in her parents' businesses: first for her father's welding business and later her mother's toy shop. Sometime in its history, my grandfather repainted it with the gray paint he had obtained while welding ships' hulls in the shipyards, covering the oak surface in a dull coat.
No. The lure of another project wasn't what the inner me was reaching for. My eyes took a quick inventory of the many little things are scattered across its top: miniatures… Victorian corner-shelves I had yet to hang in the corner of some room in our house… (etc.) Not one of the nigh-countless curiosities in sight had held my interest like the room-breadth stare had. There was something else calling to me.
Taking a seat in the old wooden office chair, the contents of cubbies and slots passed under my visual scan without a second glance. I leaned back seeking a different perspective. Crossing my legs under the desk, to gain some comfort while maintaining the critical counterbalance to my deeply reclined posture, my foot bumped the center drawer.
“That’s it!” my awareness urged, “Open the drawer!”
I had nearly forgotten it was there. Reaching far back under the desktop, I found the bottom lip of the cash drawer with my fingertips, my knuckles brushing against the pulls of the alarm till’s finger lock mechanism. Oh yes, I had nearly forgotten about that mechanism too. Indeed. This is what was tugging at me.