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.
“How long have you been working on this?”
“A week. Lying in bed is boring, so I decided to look at everything I’ve got again, and then again. There were some old maps of the coastline stored with the treasure maps, so I think my father was trying to find the actual location his treasure maps were based on and came up against the same problem. Physical landmarks on the treasure maps are no longer there, and if you didn’t know any better, I would think you were looking in the wrong place.”
“So, in actual fact, what you’re saying now is that your father had no idea where the treasure was buried, that he was just producing maps for the Cossatino’s’ to sell.”
That, of course, could be looked at from a different angle, one that I wasn’t going to suggest right then because Boggs was not ready to hear it. I think the real maps Boggs had found with eh treasure maps were the basis for the treasure maps, that is, his father had to give them real-life elements to keep the punters interested.
“No, not necessarily. I think he knew it was somewhere along this coastline give or take a hundred miles, because of its proximity to the Spanish Maine, but essentially you’re right. He probably had no idea.”
So, he hadn’t come to the same conclusion I had. Yet.
And if I could come to that conclusion, surely Cossatino also would, after all, he was the one who got Boggs senior to make the maps. Why all of a sudden did he think that there was a real treasure map. It couldn’t be simply because Boggs had said there was one. He’d have to know that anything Boggs junior found was an invention commissioned by him,
Or hadn’t Vince told his father what he was doing? Surely the father would have told the son about the treasure map scam.
As for Benderby, senior could base his assumption of the fact that he’d found some old coins off the coast nearby that could be part of the trove. Alex then may have decided to usurp his father’s search with one of his own, conveniently forgetting the treasure maps were an invention of the Cossatino’s. IT was a tangled web of lies deceit and one-upmanship, one that was going to leave a trail of human wreckage in its wake.
Boggs and I were two of the first three. We had lived to tell about it, Frobisher was the first casualty.
But what I suppose was more despairing was how taken Boggs was with the notion that the treasure was real, hidden out there somewhere, and that his father had ‘the’ map. I was loath to label him delusional, but his pathological desire to prove his father’s so-called legacy was going to not end well, especially when we found nothing.
And, yet, I had to admire the lengths he had gone to, to prove his case. Even now, looking at the overlaid maps, there was no guarantee we’d find anything, but at first look, the evidence was compelling.
Except I had a feeling Boggs had something up his sleeve. I had to ask the question. “Where did you get the idea of matching the treasure map to the real map?”
“My father’s journal. It was tossed in the bottom of a box of his other stuff. There are about ten boxes stacked in the shed, stuff my mother just couldn’t be bothered sorting through after he disappeared. Again, boredom pushed me into going through everything over and over just in case I missed something.”
He reached in under the mattress of his bed and pulled out an old leather-bound notebook. It had a strap that bound it together, and by the look of it had extra papers inserted or glued to pages, as well as papers at the start and back of the volume, making it look about twice the original size.
He handed it to me. The leather was old, cracked, and had that distinctive aroma of the hide. I loosened the strap and the top cover opened. The first page was a newspaper cutting, a small piece about some old coins being found about a hundred yards offshore by some surfers. Were these the same coins that Benderby had claimed were part to the trove?
“Benderby was getting that antiquarian that was murdered to identify some coins,” I said after a quick glance through the article.
“I spoke to one of the surfers the other day,” Boggs said. “He told me he came off his board on a big wave and as he was going down saw something glinting on the seabed. He managed to pull up three coins. There were more but he had to come up for air. When he went down again, he realized he’d been dragged away by the current.”
Tides and currents along this part of the coast were particularly bad, and the undertow, at times could get surfers and swimmers alike into a lot of trouble. I’d been caught out once in a dinghy myself, finishing up ten miles further down the coast that I expected to be.
“Then, I take it he can’t remember the exact spot so he could go back.”
“He tried, but alas no. Said he sold the coins to old man Benderby for a hundred apiece and told him approximately where he thought the others were, but nothing’s been found since.”
Not that Benderby would tell anyone if he did. But it explained where the coins came from that he gave to Frobisher.
“Except we can assume that it’s off our coastline somewhere, right?”
“Five miles of coastline to be precise. He and his mate always had a few reefers before they went out, made the ride more interesting he said. He could have been off the coast of Peru for all he knew.”
Surfers, drugs and a colorful story.
“It explains why Benderby and a team of divers have been out in his new boat,” Boggs added, “probably trying to either find the location or line up landmarks on his map from the seaward side at the same time. But he doesn’t know what we know.”
What did we know? I leafed through a few more pages of the diary, but the scrawled notes were almost illegible. I picked up various words, like a marina, underground river, dry lakebed, but none of it made any sense.
“Which map did we give to Alex?”
Boggs went over to a drawer in the wardrobe and leafed through the papers in it and pulled out one and gave it to me. Like the rest it showed the shore, the hills, the lake, and two what looked to be rivers flowing into the sea. Each of the maps had those same features but in different places.
I didn’t want to say it, but it seemed to me we were playing a very dangerous game. The maps might look different in some respects, but the chances were, if Alex was smart enough to hire an expert, that we might run across him out there, and, to be honest, he would be the last person I’d want to see.
“You do realize our paths are going to cross at some point.”
“Maybe, maybe not.”
A shiver went down my spine, an omen I thought. Boggs has something up his sleeve, and I really didn’t want to know.
Not right then.
© Charles Heath 2020