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.
I took a moment longer to study the differences in the maps, trying to see what our edge was.
“So, according to this map, Alex would be looking for a stretch of shore with two rivers going inland, which you say are no longer there.”
“I do because they’re not. Well, they’re not visible these days from the seaward side, and not really visible from shore either because I think one of the two might have started where the mini marina is.”
The mini marina wasn’t as marina as such, rather an area of seawater surrounded by a promenade with a bridge over the entrance from the ocean, and a lot of expensive Italian tiles. It was part of the redevelopment of the old marina when the shopping mall had been built.
“Wasn’t that the old marina, which was part of the old navy yard for PT boats?”
Everyone knew the potted history of the town and the navy yard that put it briefly on the map. There had been an inlet where a marina was built in the early days. Then with war looming, the navy was looking for a place to build PT boats, carry out repairs to medium-sized warships, and train PT crews.
“One and the same. There’s very little in the archives about what happened back then, but I did manage to find a document, mentioned in my father’s notebook, about the navy set up a base. Attached to it was a geological report that stated two facts, the first, they would be building over a watercourse which at the time was believed to be underground, and secondly, deep foundations would be required. In the event all of it was ignored, they built the port and it was operational up until the end of the war.”
After which as everyone knew they shut the facility down, put up fences and signs with the words hazardous and dangerous, and trespassers would be shot, and it sat there like a festering eyesore until a plan was mooted to turn the site into a mall.
It was a favorite place for us children to go and play, having the fearless mentality that every child was born with. Yes, there were hazards on the grounds, in for form of rusting metal and hundreds of barrels holding what must have been hazardous material, but best of all, there were two nearly intact boats moored there, and I remembered being captain at least once on a vessel that had taken on everything the enemy had.
“And then they built a mall.”
He nodded. “My father always said that it was doomed to failure. There’s a section in his notebook about an earlier plan to rebuild the marina with facilities to repair those new larger ocean-going yachts that proliferate in Bermuda and places like that, only he couldn’t find anyone to back the project. The Benderby’s at the time didn’t like the idea, and since they basically owned the town nothing was going to happen without their approval.”
The mall, however, was something the Benderby’s could get their hooks into, in the building of it, then a slice of every business that moved in. It would also be good for employment, and people employed mean customers for their other criminal activities. Deals were made with the Cossatino’s and everyone was happy. For a few years anyway.
That’s when a newspaper expose on the mall was published.
Exposes were never plucked out of thin air and presented, there had to be a catalyst. There had been allegations of corruption regarding all aspects of the mall, from planning through the opening day, and especially in the building. Allegations of payoffs to get approvals, substandard materials used, and the worst allegation, that the builder had not properly cleaned up the site before building commenced.
All of this came to a head when, not long after the tenth anniversary of opening, large cracks started to appear in the floors and walls, so bad that nearly half the mall, that part that had been built over the old navy base, had to be closed, and now was in danger of collapse.
The mini marina, the focal point for the mall, had also been closed because the pool had become polluted from the old navy base waste that had been improperly disposed of in the foundations rather than being properly removed and stored in a special dump. But there had also been other problems like excess water continuously flooding the lower level carparks, and flowing into the sea pool making it unusable, and at times, very smelly.
Boggs’s father had discovered at the same time as his research for the treasure maps, that the water came from the underground river that had been mentioned in the geological report made before the naval base had been built. Just because it hadn’t been there at the time, didn’t mean it wasn’t there at all. It just depended on rainfall back up in the hills, and the year the problems started for the mall coincided with the wettest period for the area in more than 50 years.
His father’s notebook was a goldmine of information, Boggs said.
“It appears there was a lake right where the map says it was, about a hundred years ago. Since then an earthquake caused a fault line that drained the lake and makes a river instead. That river ran from the hills to the sea. Until someone decided to build on the old lake, raised the level and piped the river underground, and drawing from it for the towns and sounding areas water supply. That in effect reduced the water flow from the lake to the sea to a trickle, or rather a stream.
“But every now and then when it rains heavily and for a long period, the stream becomes a river, and it backs up until with nowhere else to go, it floods the mall carparks. The lowest level carpark is actually the lowest depth of the river, and it comes out at the sea where the pool now is. Unfortunately, with the old naval waste rotting in those old rusting barrels, it collects that waste and not only stinks up the mall but also the pool area which is why it’s now closed.
“And the bad news is, it can’t be fixed. But that’s got nothing to do with our quest. It’s just an aside to our quest, proving that three of the landmarks on the treasure map actually existed once, and in some form still do. The thing is, neither the Benderby’s or the Cossatino’s will realize that which means we have a clear run at getting past the first hurdle and with any luck we will be able to identify the river from the hills which is the starting point.”
A simple job, no doubt in Boggs’s mind. He never had any trouble coming up with hair-brained schemes, only the logistics to carry them out. This one required proper transport because there was no way we’re going to be able to cycle there and back in a morning, the only time I had free for exploring.
“How do you propose we do this?”
“Rico’s car. It’s sitting in the marina carpark. The keys for it are on his boat.”
“Do you know how to drive?”
“I’ve had a few lessons. How hard could it be?”
Ⓒ Charles Heath 2020