I’ve always wanted to go on a Treasure Hunt – Part 46

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.

Aside from working on what I was going to tell my mother, and Boggs for that matter, where I’d been all night, the last thing I could say was that I spent the night with Nadia.

It had a curious ring to it when I said to myself, I slept with Nadia.  Most people would take it the wrong way, but, by a quirk of fate, it was true.  I guess that little gem of truth would have to stay locked away in my head.

One the other hand, if I told my mother I was out doing reconnaissance work for Boggs, she would get very angry, messing around in Boggs’ fantasies.  She had no time for people who didn’t want to get a job, and work hard for a living.

At least I’d gone up in her estimation when I started working for the Benderby’s.

But the reconnaissance line would work with Boggs, and all I had to do was come up with a plausible set of circumstances he would believe.  At the moment, all I had was Alex going to the mall, and that I waited to see when he came out.  The question I would pose, what was he doing in there for four or five hours.

All I had to do was hope Alex had been out of town and Boggs hadn’t seen him.  Always a chance of coming unstuck.  Perhaps I should just not volunteer anything.

As for my mother, I couldn’t say I was working overtime for Benderby.  She was likely to call him and tell him off for making me work so hard. 

I was still no further advanced on that point when I got to the library. 

It was a familiar place for me, and I had spent a lot of my time there escaping the real world, and of course, being able to keep away from Alex and Vince.

The librarian, Gwen, had been there for a hundred years or more, or so they said, and she should have retired about 20 years ago.

Pity the poor mayor who got the job of telling her to leave.  Three had tried, and three had failed.  The current incumbent was smarter than that.  He just hired an assistant and told her that she had no problems handing over the reins when she was ready.

That woman, Winifred Pankhurst, no relation to the suffragette, was quiet, polite but firm in doing her duties and dealing with the public.  She and I had butted heads a few times, especially when Gwen wasn’t in, but today was not going to be one of those days.

I could see Gwen in her office, and headed straight there, under Winnie’s watchful eye.  And no, I didn’t dare call her Winnie.  Her name, she said, was Miss Pankhurst thank you very much.

Gwen looked up as I knocked on the door, and she smiled.

“Long time no see.”

It had been several weeks.  The job and everything else had made it less of a priority to get there,

“New job, crazy hours.  Never thought I’d become a working stiff.”

“About time.  All that talent being wasted.”

I came in and sat down opposite her.

“How are you?”

“Getting old.”

For her to admit that was a worry.  She was, last time I checked, somewhere between 93 and 95.  She never quite told anyone her actual date of birth, not even the Mayor’s office who employed her.  And she didn’t look a day over 80.  Good, clean living she said.

“Isn’t that inevitable?”

“For some of us.  Now, enough of being maudlin, what can I do for you?”

“What makes you think I want something?”

“That expression.  A cat’s curiosity.”

She could still see through me.  The only other people who could was my English teacher in the final year at school and my mother.

“What do you know about the Ormiston’s.”

A change in expression on her face told me it was not a surprise I was asking.  Alex’s thug had been here earlier, had someone else?

“They’re popular this week.  Young Elmer was in here a few days ago asking the same question.  I suspect he was working for Alex Benderby.”

The way she said his name, it was with the usual venom used for him.  She had a run in with Benderby a long time ago, and she’d never forgotten.  Or ever will.  That’s why Alex would never get anything from her about anything.

“He was.”

“Is this in relation to the treasure you and that lad Boggs are searching for?”

Of course, she’d know who and what was going on in this town.  No one could keep a secret from her.  Or her extensive network of old ladies in the knitting club.

“Boggs seems to think he had some idea of where it might be, though I’m not so sure.  I just go along for the ride, it balances out the depressive life we have to live living here.”

“Oh, come now.  It’s not all that bad.”

“Perhaps not, now that I have a job.  What can you tell me, if there’s anything to tell?”

“Ormiston was as bad if not worse than the Boggs, father and son alike.  He had the treasure bug too.  Obsessed.  In the end drove away his wife and family, eventually ran out of money after mounting six different search operations, and then, when that happened, sold the land to the Navy.  Quite an extensive area, about 100 square miles or so, from the coast back to the fault line.  Used to be a lake, once, now it’s just a dustbowl.”

A fault line?  This was something Boggs didn’t know about, and it could be significant.  But just how significant?

© Charles Heath 2020

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