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.
Whilst Boggs took the time to get over his assault, I went back to my job at Benderby’s because there was no reason not to. Benderby himself had checked several times on how I was, and I was beginning to think he called just to see my mother.
And the notion of those two together was not painting a pretty picture, knowing who he was. But we were being treated better than we had and that was a good thing, or so my mother said. She too was surprised at Benderby’s interest, but she was not writing anything into it. She had a different perception of him that most others had.
I was careful to avoid Alex, not that it was difficult because he was rarely in the warehouse office, or anywhere on the factory site most days, except for a few hours in the morning, and to close up at night. No one else seemed to miss his presence, but I was a little more suspicious as to what he was doing with the rest of his time, to the extent that once I went looking for him.
The only conclusion I’d come to, now that he had his own map, it had to have something to do with the treasure.
Getting a version of the treasure map to Alex via Nadia had been a logistical nightmare, and constantly fraught with the expectation that Alex might think he was being set up. The fact it was Nadia doing it was not lost on me and I realized later we had played right into her, and her family’s, hands in fitting the ongoing feud between the families. Nor was it lost on me the enthusiasm which she showed in carrying out the plan.
If it wasn’t for the fact both Boggs and I benefited from it, I would have had second thoughts about employing her. And Boggs was right, a girl like that could never like a boy like me. She would always be the province of the likes of Alex Benderby, and I told myself that it was going to be business only from now on.
She set up the meeting with Alex and arranged for me to be nearby to witness the transaction, though what her reason was for that I had no idea and I really didn’t want to be there. For some reason, I didn’t like the idea of Nadia getting close to Alex, but it was necessary, she decided, in order to sell the story.
She had cajoled him into believing firstly his map was the real map mainly because she had used her feminine wiles on Boogs, talking him into showing her the real map, and, then, while he was away for a few minutes, she had copied it.
Then it was a matter of keeping the map a secret because firstly it would ruin the rapport she supposedly had with Boggs should they need him again, and as far as she was aware, Vince thought he also had the real map and which Boggs said was not, and to mess with Vince would immediately make him suspicious about the authenticity of his map and that would be the last thing Alex would want.
It was a treat to see how manipulable Alex was when she was making offers she knew she’d never keep. Or at least not in front of me. I didn’t expect that I meant very much to her and watching her with Alex was much like how she handled me, so I guess we were all manipulable in her hands. She was a Cossatino, and in that regard, no end of trouble.
With Alex handled, she left him with so much promise and so little substance I was surprised he fell for it. But, there again, even in school, Alex wasn’t the sharpest tool in the box. I think the notion that he could pull off the treasure hunt might just get the monkey on his back his father had put there many years before.
Then there was Nadia.
Seeing her in action put her in a different light. Whilst those midnight rendezvous at the motel may have given me a sense of false bravado, seeing her with Alex, and playing her games, I had to wonder if my feelings were just an infatuation. Did I like Nadia all that much? I guess I must a little, to be feeling angry when Alex touched her.
I had to remind myself that I could never live in her world, that her first and last instinct would always be to lie and manipulate. She was, after all, a Cossatino, and leopards, as they say, never changed their spots. She might want to escape from her family, but saying it and doing it were two entirely different things,
I doubted her father, no matter how much he liked or hated her, should ever let her go, simply because as a beautiful woman, she could do so much for the family business.
Whether she wanted to or not.
I left once he agreed, and before she did anything with him. Clearly, Alex was expecting them to work as a team, but she had declined on account of her father, who was as mad as a hatter, and might just start killing Benderby’s if he found out she was working with him.
Best to leave well alone and appear to go their separate ways.
Until the treasure was found.
I didn’t hear from Boggs for a week. I’d decided that I was going to leave him alone until he called or sent a text. Boggs and idle time were a bad mix so I knew when I next heard from him, he would have formulated a half-baked grandiose plan for us to go on our treasure hunt.
And I was busy working out how I was going to tell him he had to take a step back and watch and wait till the Benderby’s and the Cossatino’s had launched their campaigns. It wouldn’t take long. Both sons of self-made men, Alex and Vince had a lot to prove to their fathers, and there was no doubt they were going to use the lost treasure as the means of getting back into favor.
That brought a problem to the table, not immediately, but down the road, when neither would be able to find it. Their first port of call would be Boggs, the one who had supplied them with ‘faulty’ maps. It would never be their fault, that they were too stupid to realize they were being played, or, even if it was the right map, still couldn’t follow the instructions.
But even I had that problem. I’d seen quite a few variations with notations, diagrams and cryptic messages. I was not sure how they were going to fare. Perhaps he had been thinking of just that because I received a text message, asking me to come over the next morning.
As Sherlock Holmes would say, ‘the game’s afoot’.
© Charles Heath 2019-2020