They say it takes two to keep a secret. Whoever “they” are, never said that the second person had to be human. That is where I come in. I was fully assembled in Rochester, NY in 1872. My purpose was simple. Protect my contents at all costs and permit those with my unique code to see what I held within. I wasn’t the fanciest safe in the world. My most elegant features were my brass fixtures and I wore them with pride. As the years went on, though, they began to wear and I showed my age. But after all these years, I’m still as trustworthy as the day I was made.
My first job was the one I was actually designed for. I was tasked with traveling onboard a railroad car and storing valuables including large sums of cash, various pieces of jewelry and countless bonds. All the while, I sat in a secluded corner of a railroad car. The task was simple enough and I had the opportunity to experience something that many of my brethren never even have the chance to dream of. Although that railroad car was normally empty, I got to see the bustling cities on both the east and west coasts of the United States and the barren prairies in between. Everything about the job was routine until one fateful day in 1874 when the train was filled with a surplus of ruckus.
Just like every day before, I sat in my secluded corner and went about my own business. But on this day, the door to the train car burst open. A man, covered in thick brown dust and a dirty bandana covering all of his face but his sunken, hazel eyes that immediately made contact with my facade barged in. In his right hand, he carried a revolver. In his left, was the employee that tended to me and supplied the contents that I protected. Going back to the secret comment from earlier, it taking two to keep a secret, I upheld my end of the bargain. A simple revolver did not threaten my thick iron skin. But, that revolver sure did scare the living daylights out of the man in the bandit’s left hand. There was nothing I could do to protect my contents from being stolen. I felt abused and violated as my efforts to uphold my sole purpose crumbled before my eyes while the railroad employee blurted out the combination to that vile man. That was a rough day and I’ll never forget it.
Soon after, the railroad company decided it need newer, more advanced safes to protect the contents of their passengers. I was hastily sold at auction to an older couple for pennies on the dollar. For awhile, I felt like this was going to be the lowest point in my life. But, that soon changed when I was given a new purpose. The older couple, the Joneses, they gifted me to their bright son who just turned 18 years old. It was the summer of 1918. It wasn’t long after that when the young man was drafted into the army and sent over to Europe to fight in the war. They called it the war to end all wars. The only thing I held for the next three months was a single document: the last will and testament of Steven Jones. Although I wasn’t traveling the country or storing precious valuables, I felt like I was helping a good cause. I had a purpose again. That was until the day when a pair of men, wearing full dress blues knocked on the door. Watching Mrs. Jones’s knees buckle out from under her as they sullenly delivered the news was the hardest part to watch. I released my precious document to those men without any regret. I had served my purpose.
After that, I was sold again at auction. Mr and Mrs Jones no longer needed a safe in the house without their boy. This time, I ended up in Chicago, Illinois. His name was Frank. Frank was something else. I never saw what he did beyond the few visits he made to the apartment that he kept me hidden in. But, I did keep track of everything that he kept tucked away inside of me. The one constant was a black, leather ledger. I have no idea what was inside of that ledger but it was certainly important to the man. Next, was the stack of photos that was added to on a weekly basis. These pictures were not the type of picture you would want to be seen just laying around on a coffee table. No. These were very intimate and very private. Finally, came the single most interesting item stored inside of me. Ever. For two days a single, severed finger was stored inside my thick metal shell. By the end of the second day, a large crowd of men filled the apartment. They all had identical jackets on and they all had large, bold letters on their backs: F.B.I. As they crawled through Franks belongings, I heard the agents constantly refer to my owner as Franky-Two-Fingers. It wasn’t long until one of the men, equipped with a stethoscope, listened intently to my inner workings and cracked my code. Once inside, the entire room exploded in chaos. Apparently, I was guarding the valuables of somebody very dark and very sinister.
After an extended period of sitting in an evidence warehouse, I was finally dusted off and taken to auction for one last time. This time, I was sold to Ms. Fields. She is an elderly woman. A widow. And as I sit here in her beach house and watch her reminisce about days long past, I catch myself doing the same. It’s been a long journey to this point and, even though I may not be as pretty as the day I was assembled, something tells me I’m not done quite yet.