Keywords: skillet, skin, intense
Ed was a pack rat, and he knew it. He was getting better, though. After all these years of trying to keep everything he was beginning to work down the piles of stuff; donating some, selling off some.
Now he was in the attic, moving boxes around, shuffling his tangible past. Over there was a box with a Super 8 camera and projector with lots of home movies; he would not consider getting rid of any of those things. He barked his shin on another box labeled “Skates”. Those could probably go; his skating days were long past.
After moving a few more things, he came across his old footlocker from his Boy Scout days. He dragged it to the center of the aisle and found a small chair so he could get comfortable while going through the footlocker. The lighting was not great but there was a beam of sunlight coming in at a good angle; it was just enough.
Ed lifted the lid on the footlocker and a very slight fragrance of old wood smoke drifted out of the box into the attic. He smiled as the memories flooded back; some faded over time, some intense. Here was his old skillet with the folding handle; here was his hunting knife, full of its own memories. How many Indians had he dispatched, how many bears had he held at bay? He began to lay the items out on the dusty floor. Here was the faithful canteen; there was his folding drinking cup. His first aid kit; had to have that calamine lotion for those numerous sunburns and some antiseptic salve for all those skin abrasions suffered while exploring the wilds. There was his scouting uniform; he picked it up and held the shirt to his nose, eyes closed, inhaling the special smells hidden in it.
He began to remember his friends from long ago; Jimmy, Johnny, Smiley, Turk. His eyes moistened as the faces came back, as the voices spoke to him over the years. He recalled all those special adventures, heightened by their boyish imaginations; holding the fort against a Sioux raising party, launching their ship into the great void of space, riding shotgun on the stagecoach.
After a short while, he placed almost everything back into the footlocker, keeping back only one memento. For a time the footlocker project took his mind off his problems, but now it was time to go back downstairs, back to reality. He pushed the heavy box back into the shadows and rose with difficulty to his feet. He was short of breath again, damned weak ticker. He had to sit back down in the little chair, and found himself gasping a bit. Even that little exertion was too much.
They came looking for him after a few days and found him there, still in the little chair, wearing a feathered Indian headdress.