The clean up of the flat begins and Daniel gets a shock.
Daniel had appointments with patients all day, so Jenny, Christine and Kevin went over to Beryl’s flat, via Bunnings, where they got heavy duty cleaning materials, the paint Christine had chosen and painting tools. As soon as they arrived, Kevin started filming the flat and the materials they bought.
Jenny plugged in her vacuum cleaner but it would not work. When Kevin noticed this he flicked the light switch, then they both realised there was no power. “Damn, I remember now that years ago the power and water were turned off. Looks like Gramps never had it reconnected.”
“Maybe it’s just switched off at the board.” offered Kevin “I’ll check.”
“Are you sure you know what you’re doing Kevin?”
“Yes Mum, Dad showed me how to check a trip switch.”
“OK, but be careful.”
While Kevin was off doing his man thing, and shooting a selfie of his work, the girls took a look around the flat and agreed that it would make a very cosy place when re-decorated.
“This room probably has the best view of the garden and I know Beryl just loves her garden, so that should make her feel good each day.” observed Jenny.
“Mum, look at this wall, I’d forgotten about all these drawings, no wonder Gran wants to keep it. Kevin must get a shot of this.” The wall was covered by childish drawings of houses, trees, flowers, misshapen animals, some with the wrong number of legs, and everyone’s initials. Jenny was getting a bit nostalgic when their viewing was interrupted by Kevin’s return.
“All fixed Kev?” asked Jenny.
“Not exactly, what’s this Mum?” asked Kevin as he produced a white porcelain block about the size of a small mobile phone. “..and why’s it got this wire sticking out of it. I found it in the meter box?”
Jenny took a look, mused for a minute then the penny dropped. “I think it’s an old style fuse wire block. That’s probably why the electricity isn’t working. I hadn’t realised this house was so old.”
“What do I do with it Mum?”
“Nothing Kevin, just leave it until your father comes over.”
While Jenny went back to the car to get the cleaning equipment, Christine and Kevin looked over the decorated wall. “Chris, I can’t remember doing many of these drawings. Which ones are yours?”
“I think I did most of the flowers and trees; that was my thing then. The strange looking animals are yours and all the stuff up higher is probably Jason’s, since he was the only one who could reach that high.”
“Sure looks like we had fun all those years ago. It’s nice to see them, but I sure was a rubbish drawer, wasn’t I?”
“Not all the time, this one looks pretty realistic.” Christine was on her knees looking at a small drawing just above the skirting board behind the door. “What’s this supposed to be Kevin?”
“Looks like a plane to me.”
“What, a plane with no wings?”
“Told you I was rubbish at drawing.”
“..and why has it only got two fat wheels both at the very end?”
“Oh I see what you mean, now I remember, that’s Jason.”
“Jason didn’t draw this, it’s got your initials under it.”
“I didn’t mean Jason drew it. It’s a drawing of Jason’s.....”
“Cheeky boy.”they both laughed and Kevin recorded the moment.
When Jenny returned and saw both her children seemingly enjoying each other’s company she not only felt good about it, she also felt the need to express her delight. “It’s good to see you two having a laugh together instead of bickering. Are you going to share the joke with me?”
“I think not Mum.” replied Kevin; it’s just brother and sister talk.”
“Oh really! I haven’t heard of that before, especially between you two.”
“Don’t be such a prat Kevin, tell Mum.”
“That didn’t last for long; I see you two are back to normal.”
“Mum, we were just laughing at Kevin’s drawing of Jason that we found.”
“Why is it so funny, did he draw him with big ears and a funny nose?”
“Not exactly Mum.”
“Where is it then?”
“Down there behind the door. You’ve probably not seen it before. Remember Kevin used to keep that old bean bag that Gramps gave him, in this corner and no one was allowed to move it.”
“Yes, he used to say it was his secret place, where he was safe from all the monsters. Now let me see this drawing of Jason, that’s got you two so amused.” As Jenny bent down to look she was quiet for a moment, then said “Mmm, very good likeness.”
Over the next two weeks the whole family pitched in and soon had the flat ready for Beryl’s move. As requested, the drawing wall was left untouched, including the portrait of Jason, but that conclusion was not reached easily.
On painting day the three boys got started early so they could knock it over in one day. Jason took on the bedroom, Kevin the bathroom and Daniel did the combined living room & kitchen. At morning tea break, Daniel raised the issue of the drawing he found behind the door.
“I don’t know if I should leave that there for your Gran to discover.”
“I’m not keen on her seeing it either” replied Kevin “But if we paint over it and make it obvious, she might notice and probably ask questions. You know how inquisitive Gran can be.”
“I agree” said Jason “She was quite insistent that we leave the wall untouched. At her age she’s not likely to get down on her knees to have a look.”
“Just the same, it’s not really the sort of thing I want my mother to see.”
“Dad, do you really think she’s going to be offended by a drawing, innocently done by her seven year old grandson. Besides, she didn’t get to be a grandmother without seeing a dick or two over the years.”
“Don’t talk about your grandmother like that Jason.”
“Oh Dad, I just meant she’s a mature woman, who’s been around the block a few times.” Daniel gave Jason a disapproving look.
“I don’t think that’s helping.” added Kevin.
“I didn’t mean any offence Dad.”
“Alright boys, I get it. The drawing stays, but don’t say anything about it to her and with any luck she won’t notice.”
“Dad, I forgot to tell you that the electric is still not working. Mum thinks it’s something to do with this.” Kevin said as he handed his father the fuse block. “I don’t know what to do with it.”
Daniel explained and then took Kevin to the fuse box to show him how to install it. Jason spilled his tea in shock, as the vacuum cleaner sprung to life and all the lights came on simultaneously.
“Bugger me!” he said in surprise, just as Daniel and Kevin returned.
“I don’t think it would be right for me to do it to my brother.” replied Kevin.
“You said bugger me, and I don’t think I should.”
“Oh very funny brother.”
“Enough you two, this paint’s not going to apply itself. Have you finished the bathroom yet Kev?” asked Daniel
“No, I’m about half done.”
“It’s the smallest room in the house, why so slow?”
“It might be small, but that’s the problem. No room to move, no room for a ladder and it’s all corners and edges.”
“I see your point Kev; how are you going Jason?”
“I’ve finished the ceiling and the wall with the window, so it’s easy going from here. But I noticed that we forgot to clean out the wardrobe, it’s chock a block with stuff.”
“You too Dad?”
“Kevin Covid, will you get your mind out of the gutter and concentrate on painting.”
“Oh excuse me, if I have a little joke. That’s the problem with this family; you’re all so uptight when it comes to sex.”
“I’m sorry Kev, we’re all a bit on edge these days. This virus and the lockdown have forced us all to make changes we are not comfortable with and I need to get this project finished this week. It’s good that you can still see the funny side of things.”
“Apology accepted.” Kevin said with an air of superiority.
“OK boys let’s get back to work. Jason, you finish your painting and then we’ll have a look at the wardrobe after that.”
Late in the afternoon the boys finished the painting and while Jason and Kevin cleaned up, Daniel started going through the items stored in the wardrobe. It was mostly old clothes, files and boxes of correspondence and other paperwork. Daniel decided that he did not want to try sorting through it with the boys around, so he arranged for Jason to drop off Kevin on his way home. That would leave him free to sort out the contents of the wardrobe, alone.
“Thanks for your hard work today, boys and Kev, tell your mum I won’t be long, I’ll be home in time for dinner.”
The brothers knocked on the kitchen window and waved goodbye to their grandmother, as Daniel sat down to sort through the paperwork. There were stacks of Christmas cards, old bills and receipts, cheque book stubs and bank statements, all well past their use by date. Daniel filled two garbage bags with these and then started on some unlabelled boxes. Most of the contents of the first box were legal papers and certificates that he put aside to keep, but then he opened an envelope, the contents of which he was certainly not expecting.