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 installment of an old feature, and we’re back on the treasure hunt.
It was an understatement to say I was dreading going to Boggs’ place.
In fact, in the hour it took to get through the morning chores I had time to consider how and why I was in this position. Boggs was a friend. We were friends at school and as best we could we had each other’s back when the bullies came out to play.
At times that didn’t amount to much because as everyone knows, bullies hunt in packs. Six against two wasn’t much of an equation. And it those days, the teachers spent more time hiding from the students than being in front of them.
It was simply a case of what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
It didn’t feel like that, not for a very long time.
But, in the end, misfortune can make strange bedfellows, and in a town that depended on a single industry, it soon became apparent that there were more people against the Benderby’s and the Cossatino’s than for, and in small-town politics, that was more than an evening up. Out of school and separated from their acolytes, both Alex and Vince found that whatever influence they had once, was now gone, and all that was left was a grunt, and we were basically left alone.
Boggs was the dreamer.
He had idolized his father and when he went missing it broke him.
This map thing was the first signs of Boggs finally coming back to life, but the problem was, it was all pinned on false hopes. The Sherriff was right. Boggs was in over his head, playing with the two most vicious families from around here, and it was bad enough that his father had fallen foul of them, the Sherriff was not about to see his son go the same way. I was going to try and talk Boggs out of it.
Yet, on the other hand, it was people like us who needed a win, just to show there was still hope in this place. With threats every day that the factory might have to close, there were dark clouds hanging over everyone’s head.
If the factory closed, there was going to be a very large hole in the local economy and a lot of people in financial trouble. I’m not sure how finding the treasure might solve all of that, but I suspect Boggs’ had something up his sleeve.
I knocked on the door and his mother answered. She looked harried. She was a nurse and looked as though she just got home from the night shift at the hospital.
“Boggs is in his room.”
“How are you this morning?”
“Tired. And an afternoon shift, which I might not get to if I don’t get some sleep. You know where he is. Try not to make any noise.”
I came in and closed the door, watching her dash off down the passage to the other end of the house.
She could not work endless double shifts for much longer, but like all of us, it was not out of desire but necessity. She had implored Boggs to get a job and help, but he seemed oblivious to the problem. I’d tried to speak to him, but he had that insufferable way of just not listening.
Boggs was in his room, sitting on the bed and staring at the ceiling.
I looed up too, but there was nothing there.
“Don’t tell me,” I said, “but you’ve suddenly discovered you’ve got X-Ray vision.”
“If only. I could use it right now to find something that’s missing>”
“Your cell phone?” Boggs was always misplacing something, of forgetting it. I’d lost count how many times he’d misplaced his phone.
“No. An underground river.”
OK. That was out of left field. I had no idea any rivers were missing, or, in fact, they could actually go missing.
Apparently, they could.
“There’s two,” he said. 300 years ago five or take this part of the coastline had several rivers that ran down from the mountain range. What we now call the hills on the edge of the coastal plain. There was also a lake, not very large, but it used to have several streams flow into it all year round and had an aqua flow that came out along the coastline.”
“And you figured all of this out from what? A copy of the treasure map.”
The moment he started quoting rivers, streams, and lakes, I remembered each of those geographical features appeared on several of the map versions. I had suggested, rather comically, that it would be funny if the treasure was buried in the lake.
It wasn’t all that funny. It was also possible.
“Imagine this. Drop anchor out to sea, in other words on the other side of the natural sandbar that formed at the seaward side of the river, get in the longboats and row inshore to the lake, across the lake, up another river to the base of the hills. Then do a little exploring, north or south, and find a cave. I reckon the treasure was buried in a cave. We know there are caves up there, not many, but I think there used to be more.”
“Someone already did a survey with some rather fancy electronic equipment with the same idea in mind. He found three, not very long, and certainly without treasure. Two had substantial falls inside, which is why they were buried.”
He jumped up off the bed and went over to the robe and opened the door. Tacked on the back was a copy of an ordnance survey map of this part of the coastline, and a tracing of the treasure map, to the same scale on top.
“As you can see, I think ‘I’ve found the correlation between the real, and what was real 300 years ago.”
Except there’s no rivers and no lake. And no sand bar as I recall. There was a small marina in what might have been where the river met the sea, but that’s gone. They filled it in and build a shopping mall on it. A huge, now half empty, shopping mall. A modern wonder 40 years ago that was supposed to bring business and shoppers to the town. For a few years it did, until another town 50 miles away got the same idea, sold the land for half the price, and made the rents a quarter of what they were here.
They called it progress.
We called it piracy.
“Then we can hardly row our boat inshore and up the stream, if it’s not there.”
I hated to state the obvious.
“But,” he said, looking like the cat who’d swallowed the canary. “What if it is still there, but we just can’t see it?”
© Charles Heath 2020