The Great Plotnik

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Downstairs Bill

Downstairs is on the left, Upstairs is on the right.

Plotnik's elderly cousin Downstairs Bill passed away a few days ago. Upstairs Bill died in 2006. Upstairs Bill and Downstairs Bill were first cousins. Their families had moved into a building in Brooklyn in the 1940s where Bill Plotnik lived upstairs and Bill Plotnik lived downstairs. Hence, Upstairs Bill and Downstairs Bill.

Not only that: Downstairs and Upstairs' fathers had married sisters. So Upstairs and Downstairs were not just cousins, they were Supercousins. They were also in business together, as printers in New York City.

But as all Plotniks do, sooner or later, they got into a feud. After some time had passed they stopped speaking to each other, and each forbade their children to speak to their cousins, upstairs or downstairs.

TGP found out about all of this when he and Ducknik went back east to a family wedding in the year 2000. He met cousin Helen, the oldest surviving member of the family, then in her nineties. Plot and Duck and two other cousins took Helen to Junior's Deli for lunch and she remembered everything. She said the wives had caused the disruption between Upstairs Bill and Downstairs Bill, but that it was also the wives who cheated and continued to speak to each other, and to let the other cousins into their houses, as long as they didn't mention it to their dads.

Downstairs Bill married a wealthy woman, heiress to a scotch whiskey fortune. It's said her father was a bootlegger who then turned legit. Downstairs moved to an exclusive and luxurious Park Avenue apartment, and was there when he invited Plot and Duck for Christmas not long after they had moved in with each other in Manhattan in 1969. You could have fit their entire tenement walk-up into the entry foyer of Downstairs Bill's palatial home.

"We're related?" Plotnik kept thinking. But the family resemblance was unshakeable. The eyebrows were the giveaway. Downstairs had only one, in those days, which stretched from one side of his face to the other.  Through the years, with careful pruning, Ducknik has made sure Plotnik has kept both of his.

Downstairs Bill was Godfather to Plottie's brother Schmeckl, though no one knew this but Mummy P. And that was long ago. Bill didn't remember, when Plottie asked him, and Mummy P. doesn't remember any more.

I guess I'm going to have to tell her Bill's gone.


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