Here’s the thing…
Every time I close my eyes, I see something different.
I’d like to think the cinema of my dreams is playing a double feature but it’s a bit like a comedy cartoon night on Fox.
But these dreams are nothing to laugh about.
Once again there’s a new instalment of an old feature, and we’re back on the treasure hunt.
“Where is he?” I asked, hardly disguising the annoyance in my tone.
“In the toilet.”
A minor relief, but what the hell was she doing in his room?
“You do know Vince is responsible for Boggs being attacked, and me too, by the way. There was no mistaking that thug even if he was hiding behind a balaclava.
“You’re not telling me anything I didn’t know already. And it might be my fault. I told him, no, he all but beat it out of me, about the map and Boggs, and you, and Alex.”
“So, I can expect to see Alex in here sometime soon?”
“No. The Benderby’s have their own private hospital. No one will get to hear about it, except maybe when there is the retaliation. This who map and treasure thing is about to get a whole lot more problematical.”
Boggs chose to return from the bathroom and stopped dead in his tracks when he saw me. “How did you manage to get past the head of Gestapo, Nurse Jamieson?”
“I had an angel show me the way. How are you?”
“This is a hospital; how do you think I feel.”
The nurse was right, he looked worse than he was. The bruising was going to be very colourful in the coming days, before everything settled down.
“Like I could tell who it was. Only Vince can sound like Vince even where he’s trying not to sound like Vince.”
“Did he get the map.”
“One of them, but not necessarily the right one, just a better one.”
Boggs got back onto the bed and lay back. I got the impression he was putting on a brave face for Nadia. But it didn’t explain why she was there.
“What are you doing here,” I asked, with just a shade less annoyance.
“I heard what Vince did and I cam to apologise. You were next,.” She said to me, “But, seriously guys, you were the masters of your own destinies with this map thing. You don’t even know if it’s real or just another of a host of hoaxes. Old man Cossatino reckons that Boggs’s dad created a lot of different variations, in the hope of selling them as the real thing. He was, after all, just a common con man, and not very good at it.”
The patriarch of the Cossatino’s the one she referred to as Old Man Cossatino, was Nadia’s grandfather, and although Nadia’s father was nominally in charge of the clan, everyone knew who the real leader was. And Old Man Cossatino was someone you didn’t cross, and that went for the Benderby’s too.
Boggs’s dad had worked for the Cossatino’s at one time, and it would not surprise me if it was Cossatino’s idea to create all the bogus maps, just to make money. I couldn’t see Boggs’s dad having the brains to mount a scheme such as Nadia described.
It surprised me that I had forgotten about that. Way back, when my father was still picking a side, he had said there’d been a rumour going around that a new map for the treasure had been found, and that both the Cossatino’s and the Benderby’s were in a bidding war for it, along with some other unsavoury characters.
And the rumour died as fast as it had risen, and not long after Boggs’s dad disappeared, later to turn up dead. One rumour, he had gone looking for the treasure, though no one proffered an answer as to how he might have come across the original map which he had, at one time, claimed, and another, Cossatino had him make it up, then killed him so he would never reveal the truth.
That original map had never seen the light of day, nor mentioned since.
It didn’t explain why Vince was on the warpath.
“What’s Vince up to? I thought you guys had the original map?”
She looked surprised. “First I’m hearing about it.”
I realised then she would have been as young as I was, and Boggs, which was about five or six. Precognitive memories. She might have been too young to remember. I only remembered it because my father had continually bagged Boggs’s father as a fool who should have got a real job and support his family, rather than let others do it for him, a veiled reference about the times Boggs stayed over and ate with us.
But it was not lost on Boggs.
“There’s any number of maps, yes. I found a lot of them in Dad’s stuff in the shed. I suspect those were the ones created for the Cossatino’s to sell privately, and I also think he double-crossed them and kept one particular map, the one he called ‘the map’ for himself, which may have been the original.”
That I was guessing, was the map Boggs had now. “And you’re telling me that’s the one you said you found, and…”
“I still have it. Vince has one of the half dozen that all seem to be slightly different, different enough from the original to keep him happy for a while.”
“What was the point of sending him to me?”
“I needed more time to figure out which variation to give him. I’m hoping now, if he thinks it’s the original, he’ll start looking for it. Save us a lot of time and effort if he does the groundwork. And I’m sorry about what happened to you. If it’s any consolation, I knew he wouldn’t hurt you.”
It seemed to me, judging from the expression on Nadia’s face, that discussing the fact Vince didn’t have the right may prompt her to tell him. She was a Cossatino first, after all, and had for years toed the family line.
Maybe she’d changed, but I wish Boggs was not so trusting.
“That’s nonsense Boggs,” Nadia said. “My brother doesn’t go easy on anyone.”
“How did you get in here?”
No mistaking that voice of authority. The head of the hospital Gestapo had arrived. She glared at me. “You’d better leave before I call both the hospital security staff and the police.” Then she looked at Nadia, who was getting out of the seat. “You should know better.” Much kinder voice for Nadia, suggesting they were acquainted.
She probably helped old man Cossatino with his interrogations.
“Had you told me how Boggs was, I would not be here.” I’m not sure why I decided to take a stand with her.\
“Don’t be impertinent. You can see how he is, now leave while I’m in a good mood.”
I’d hate to see her when she was in a bad mood.
“Tomorrow,” Boggs said. “I’m sure they’ll let me have visitors by then.”
I waved and left. Nadia stayed back for a moment, then joined me in the passage.
“What were you really doing here,” I asked her. “It’s bot as if you had any reason to visit Boggs, other than to cause trouble.”
“I came to apologise. My brother can be a moron sometimes.”
“Does he know you’re here?”
“No. And I want to keep it that way.”
“It’s Vince we’re talking about, or has he gone soft. From what I witness during our encounter, it seems he’s got worse.”
“Which is why I don’t want to see him. You want to come back to the room and have a few drinks. Maybe we could talk about old times, you know, trash Alex?”
“Sounds good to me.”
A nightcap with Nadia. I would never have thought that possible, even in my wildest dreams. Had she changed, or was she up to something?
Time would tell.
© Charles Heath 2019