Uncle phids closet, p.1
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       Uncle Phid's Closet, p.1

           M. L. Humphrey
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Uncle Phid's Closet
Uncle Phid's Closet

  By M. L. Humphrey

  Copyright © 2016

  All Rights Reserved

  ISBN: 9781310658198

  Cover art copyright of the author, © 2016 Maurice Humphrey.

  Please visit my blog at [ TheCornishTalisman.blogspot.com ].

  Uncle Phid's Closet

  I've known Uncle Phid all my life ‘cause he's my dad’s older brother and he's also the local undertaker. My dad is a real estate agent while mom stays home and takes care of us kids. That's the way things are in the 50's; least that's what dad told me. Dad even works from his home office. Yup, Ryan Edwards Real Estate is what it says on the sign out front of what used to be the garage.

  When he would be gone, us kids would sometimes get to fighting. Our older sister Jean would escape to her room and lock Joey and me out; that only made things worse. Since Joey was only five and I was almost eight, mom decided to pack me off to spend the summer with Aunty Belle.

  Aunty Belle didn't mind, she and Uncle Phid didn't have any kids of their own and she enjoyed having me over. Jean wouldn't go over there any more; she said it smelled gross. But then she was twelve, and girls got mean when they turned twelve.

  I use to play basketball with Patty Jones next door; she showed me how to shoot and all. But last year, when she turned twelve, she wouldn't play with me anymore. Instead she started hanging around with other girls that age reading these magazines and giggling all the time; must be an old age disease or something. Mom laughed at me when I told her that, she told me that Patty was just growing up.

  "Don't worry about it Jerry, have fun while you're still young enough to enjoy it" she told me. I still haven't figured out what she meant by that; mom's can be so weird!

  So lucky me, I got to go visit with Uncle Phid and Aunty Belle for the summer 'cause I wasn't twelve yet; which also means I wasn't old enough to walk across town by myself. So Uncle Phid came over and picked me up in the hearse. Back then I use to like riding in the hearse. Probably when I’m twelve I’ll look back on it and think it’s weird too; but then, I'm just a kid.

  Uncle Phid's real name is Thaddeus Paul Edwards, but everyone called him Phid. I use to spell it Fid for fiddle until Aunty Belle told me it was spelled P-h-i-d; but she didn't know why they called him that.

  "Everyone in school called him that" she told me when I asked her one morning while she was baking cookies.


  "Well, I don't rightly know" she mused. "I first knew him in fifth grade, and that's what they called him back then. Even the teachers called him that."

  "Must have been something real bad then" I replied ominously.

  "And you're almost like him in some ways" she replied wistfully, "but more like your father."

  "What did father call him?" I asked absently as I was starting to smell the cookies she had baking in the oven.

  "Where do you get these ideas?" She stopped and thought about it, I could see it in her face. "No, actually your father had a much more colorful name for him." She gave me the most mysterious look I'd ever seen. The timer dinged and Aunty Belle opened the oven door and removed the first batch of freshly baked cookies. They smelled so good as she slid them off the metal cookie sheet onto the wire holders to cool.

  Being only seven I asked her innocently, "And what's your real name Aunty Belle?" as she slid another batch of cookies into the oven.

  That seemed to startle her for a moment as she sat down at the kitchen table beside me. Then she giggled as she grabbed my head in her slim warm hands pulling me close to her face. "You are the inquisitive one, now aren't you." She sat up straight and folded her hands in her lap looking very prim and proud. "I'll have you know young man, my name was Gladys Annabelle Fisher back then, and I was the belle of the ball don't cha know" as she primped her hair.

  "Aunty Belle, why did you change your name?"

  "Oh my little dear" she grabbed my face again. "When I was your age my mother just called me Belle for short, I liked it so much I kept it."

  We laughed together as she went to pull the last batch of cookies out of the oven. I loved fresh baked cookies, so warm and gooey almost melt in your mouth yummy. She finished sliding the cookies off the tin sheet before setting it on the open windowsill to cool.

  "Aunty Belle, can I change my name if I like one better?" I asked her between mouthfuls.

  "Now why would you want to do something like that?" she replied with an inquisitive smile.

  "I dunno" I replied wistfully, "maybe Captain Marvel!"

  "Captain Marvel?" She just gave a quick laugh. "Does he have a first name?"

  "A first name?"

  "How about George?” she smiled at me, “You're certainly curious enough."

  The best thing about staying with Uncle Phid and Aunty Belle was exploring the house. They lived on the second floor above the mortuary; I had a hard time learning to say that word and what it meant.

  "Jerry" she told me one day, "this building was originally a theater but it went out of business. It sat here empty for many years until Phid and I bought it."

  "Is that when it came a Morchury?" I asked.

  "Silly boy, it's pronounced Mor-tu-ar-y" she pronounced distinctly as she pushed my hair back out of my face. "Goodness you need a haircut."

  "No I'm fine..."

  "Come on Jerry, Aunty Belle is going to give you a haircut" as she pulled a stool out from behind the door. Before I knew it I was sitting on the stool with a bed sheet wrapped around me. "Don't worry” she told me, “I cut Phid's hair all the time, he can't always afford the time when he gets busy."

  I had to fidget a little as little bundles of hair would stick to my cheeks; and it itched.

  "Hold still" she scolded, "just a little longer, just a little more over the ears here, and…there... now close your eyes" as she started brushing me off with a fluffy little whisk broom. "OK Jerry, you did good to hold still like that" as she held a mirror in front of my face.

  I gazed at my reflection just long enough to see that it still looked like me. Funny, I looked older, much older. Was that a touch of white hair on the side?

  "Still look like you does it?" she asked as she put the mirror away and folded the sheet up and set it on the floor.

  I hopped off the stool, "Aunty Belle? Can I have a cookie?"

  "As a reward for holding still?" She had an odd way of making it sound funny. "Well I suppose so, but only two, and at the table" she replied sternly.

  "Yes Aunty Belle."

  I got the cookies out of the cookie jar and sat at the table. Aunty Belle put a glass of milk in front of me before sweeping up the hair off the floor and putting it in the trashcan.

  "I'm going to shake this sheet off the back porch, now you sit right there, I'll be right back."

  "Aunty Belle, can I play in the closet when I'm done?"

  "Just make sure you pick up afterwards" as she went out back.

  I wasn't allowed down in the basement, that's where all of the chemicals and dead people were kept. I was obviously interested of course, but I'd found something even better to play with when Aunty Belle was busy. There were several extra rooms up on the third floor used for storage. The ones in the back were filled with boxes and unused furniture; I didn't find much of interest in there.

  The real find was in the big front room. Aunt Belle told me once it used to be a bedroom but had been converted into a huge closet just filled with clothes and costumes. There was everything in there you could ever imagine for a costume. I asked Aunty Belle if I could play with them and she said she didn't mind, most of them were left over theater costumes.

  I remember the first time I was allowed to play in the closet by myself. I thought it was great 'cause Jean
wouldn't go near it; she said the place made her feel creepy. "All those ugly clothes" she said; if she didn't like it, then it must be great. But I was a boy and those costumes looked cool; I really liked the pirate costume.

  One day I had on a long black jacket with tails that dragged on the floor and a gray colored wig. Mom had read us a story about George Washington and how he was such a hero. In the picture he had on a white wig and a jacket like this one; but I couldn't wear the pants, they were too big and got underfoot.

  I was poised for my big speech when...

  "What are you doing in here?" a voice behind me screamed in my ear. The wig nearly fell off my head as I scrambled over against the wall. I sat there on the floor not knowing what to do next. There was a rustling from the rack of clothes in front of me and a small face peered out at me.

  "Who are you?" I asked as the wig slipped down over my forehead, some of the loose hair getting in my mouth. I brushed the hair out of my mouth and pushed it back up.

  "I was here first" the squeaky voice replied, "Who are you?"

  "I'm Jerry" I stammered, still
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