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.
In a cave, Nadia is a surprise
Now the helicopter had gone, the sounds of the sea had returned, along with the muffled sound of the wind which had picked up, along with swirling clouds that looked like they would be bringing rain. I’d heard how the weather could change suddenly, and dangerously along this coastline.
I saw the lightning, and a minute or so later, the cracking of thunder. We were about to get very wet.
‘Look for the big A’. It had been there, heavily underscored in Ormiston’s notebooks. It had also been on the cliff face, crudely, but there.
“We need to go,” I heard Nadia say, over the ambient noise all around us.
Her words were being swept away by the wind, and I could barely hear her.
Another glance up at the cliff to confirm what I’d seen, and, yes, it was a big A, I went over to her.
“We can’t outrun it. And it will be treacherous on those rocks in a downpour.”
“We also have the tide to contend with.”
I could see the high-water line, and it didn’t leave much to the imagination. We needed higher ground. It was one of those situations where we might get caught by the tide. It was a pity there wasn’t room for two of us on the helicopter.
Back the way we’d come I remembered seeing an outcrop that looked like it might provide shelter from the rain. “We should go, there’s a spot a way back that might save us from getting too wet.”
It was about a hundred yards, not far from where the shore rocks started and would require climbing back up. At the very least, we could stay there until the tide dropped. We collected the metal detectors and made it to the base of the rocky outcrop just as the first drops of rain fell.
The overhang I’d seen turned out to be a shallow cave, going back into the rockface about 10 yards or so, carved out by the sea over a very long period.
Then the rain came, so heavy, we could not see through it. Every few minutes a gust of wind blew water into the cave, but standing back from the entrance basically kept us dry.
Nadia sat down and looked despondent. I’d never seen her like this, she was normally more cheerful.
I took a few minutes to explore inside using the torchlight on my phone. I could see the layers of sandstone compressed over the years, and if I had remembered more from the geology part of science at school I might have been able to make sense of it. Was I hoping for fossils, like from long-extinct dinosaurs?
Or perhaps I could imagine this was the entrance to Aladdin’s cave, also reputed to have hidden treasures, and briefly wondered if I’d found a lantern with a genie, what my three wishes might be?
“They’re only walls, Sam.” Nadia had come silently up behind me, and was just behind my left shoulder, the sound of her voice so near startling me.
Also noted, when my potential heart attack passed, she called me Sam, not Smidge. I was not going to write anything into it, she didn’t seem herself.
“You never know. If I say open sesame, or whatever the password is…”
It sounded lame.
I could hear rather than see her shake her head.
“What do you think Boggs was doing climbing up or down that particular rockface, and for that matter, poking around The Grove?”
I turned around to look at her. If I didn’t know her better, I might have said there was at that moment an angelic quality about her. It only reinforced the notion that she was very much out of my league, and whatever we seemed to have going, it was more in my head than hers.
“I think you can make as educated a guess as I can.”
“He thinks the treasure is here?”
“Somewhere in The Grove, yes. His approach might have been different from ours, but the conclusion is the same.”
“We didn’t find anything.”
“That doesn’t mean it didn’t come ashore somewhere near here, or somewhere along the coast despite the reefs because they might have once been navigable in an abnormally high tide. And those coins found near the old marina tells me that they landed somewhere there, but it was not the final resting place.”
I was going to say anything was possible.
“I can assure you my father and his cronies spent years turning over this whole property, one way or another, and found nothing.”
I believed her. Had he not won the bidding war for the property, sold by the remaining Ormiston’s to settle the debts racked up by successive treasure hunts, Benderby, or anyone else for that matter, would have done the same. Everyone was aware of the obsession, and the possibility of making a fortune.
But, my money was on the fact it was in The Grove, somewhere. The question was, would I be completely honest with her?
When I didn’t say anything, she added, “you think it’s still here, don’t you?”
I shrugged. “Why else would Boggs be here? I’m sure his deductions from the resources he has, and I’m sure he hadn’t told me everything for obvious reasons, told him when all else has been eliminated, the last possibility however improbable must be true.”
“Ish. When we can get back to the cabin, I’ll go and see him, see what he has to say. If he wants to see me, that is.”
I could see her processing what I just said, and thought perhaps I could have said it better.
“He doesn’t trust you because of me?”
Again I shrugged. “I got that impression when I last spoke to him. I don’t think he quite understands the nature of our friendship. I’m assuming that’s what it is because I’m hardly the sort of boy your parents would consider suitable for you.”
“My parents have no idea what I want or care about. It’s why I left.”
“Why did you come back then?”
“My mother said she had cancer and wasn’t expected to live.”
“Don’t be. It was a lie. Their whole life is a lie. I’ve always known about the family, I just chose to ignore it, even bask in some of the glory of it, until it got a friend of mine killed. Vince did it, I know he did, but they all lied. It’s just one of many reasons I wanted to getaway. I was going to go back to Italy until you popped up. I always liked you, you know.”
I didn’t. I thought I was just another pawn in a game of terror and ridicule she played on all of us boys.
“You had a funny way of showing it.”
“I was stupid back then, but that was no excuse. If it’s any consolation I’m sorry, but words never seem to be enough, and besides that, no one I’ve apologized to really believes me, and I get it. My name is a curse. That’s why when I go back I’m going to disappear, a whole change of identity. That’s how much I trust you, Sam, you’re the only one I’ve told.”
“You shouldn’t tell me anything. I’m sure if you disappear, I’ll be the first one your family will come after.”
I didn’t need to know, I certainly didn’t want to know. If she did disappear, I’m sure my doorstep would be the Cossatino’s first stop, and I’d easily fold under pressure.
“Maybe you could come with me, then you wouldn’t have to worry about them.”
Perhaps she could read my mind. Even so, it was an interesting thought, not that I could just up and leave my mother, or worry the Cossatino’s would come after her if I went missing.
“I don’t speak Italian.” Lame excuse.
“I could teach you. We could work in the vineyard, and live a simple life.”
It was hard to tell if she was serious or not. I had to think she wasn’t. I don’t think I could handle someone like her, that anyone could.
© Charles Heath 2020-2022