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.
We took her car. It wasn’t a limousine of the sort I’d seen the other Cossatino’s driving around in, but a shabby old compact that had seen better days. Perhaps it was selected for its camouflage qualities, it fitted in with a lot of other old cars that the general population drove.
No one in this town could afford any better. Not unless you were a Cossatino or a Benderby. Alex, for instance, had been given a Porsche on his 18th birthday. By comparison, I was given a new, but second hand, bicycle.
She had parked in a back street some distance from the hotel, and the several times I checked, we were not being followed. She had noticed me looking over my shoulder a few times but hadn’t commented. Not until we had driven several miles.
“Alex has one of his mates following me,” I said by way of an explanation. “Alex seems to think I might lead them to the treasure, which is about as daft as it can get.”
“He’s clutching at straws. His old man had found out what he’s doing, not that he has told him he knows, and he’s going out of his way to distract Alex. Old man Benderby doesn’t think there is any treasure.”
“How do you know what the old man is doing?”
“Talks to my father. They might be sworn enemies, but that doesn’t mean they don’t talk. It amuses them to see Alex and Vince go head to head. It’s a waste of time trying to impress their respective fathers.”
“What about you?”
“I’m not trying to impress anyone. At the right time, I’m packing my bags and going back to Italy to live with the other branch of the family, the ones who are not interested in being master criminals. I just want to soak up the Tuscan sun and drink wine.”
“I’m sure your father would have something to say about that.”
“He has, but I’m not interested in using my ‘wiles’ as he calls them to get men to spill their secrets. I’ve seen what it’s done to my mother and my sisters. I’m not a criminal.”
Not now perhaps. But back in school, she used every asset to get what she wanted. It won over Alex, and a few others, particularly those who did her schoolwork for her. She had nearly every boy at school dangling on a puppet string.
I was lucky she never gave me a second look.
“Well, I’m sure you made a lot of boys happy.”
A sidelong glance told me that wasn’t the wisest of statements to make. Despite the fact it was true, I guess it was a time she’d rather forget.
I changed the subject. “So when you went away, I’m thinking you went over to Italy?”
“For a while. My father thought I was getting a little too close to Alex and sent me to what he thought would be purgatory. I loved it. Pity I had to come back.”
We’d reached a small area behind a row of shrubs that shielded us from being seen from the mall. Something else I’d noticed, it was a cloudy night, and off and on the moon would disappear behind a bank of scudding clouds, and then just before we arrived, the moon had completely disappeared.
When we got out of the car, the darkness closed in around us, and it took a minute or so for my eyes to adjust. The black clothes almost made us invisible.
I watched her as she wrapped her hair up into a bun and secure it with a band. Dragged back off her forehead, it made her look older. It also accentuated the fact she had carefully applied makeup, an odd thing to do when about to go running around in a very dirty place.
The parking spot was a long way from where Boggs and I had last gained entry, so did she have a different entry point.
“Ready?” she asked.
She took off at a quick pace and I found myself almost jogging to keep up. She was very fit. I was not. We cut across another carpark, one of several surrounding the mall, this one giving some cover because originally there had been landscaping. It was now overgrown and out of control, and we could move through it and no one could see us.
Not that there was anyone else there.
We came out of the garden, crossed a road, and into an inset where there was a door.
The rusting sign on the door said that the outside should be kept clear as it was a fire exit.
The lock, from what I could see, looked reasonably clean, unlike patches of rust on the door itself, and around the edges of the lock.
“I presume you have a key?”
She pulled a keyring out of her pocket with several keys on it, selected one, and inserted it in the lock.
She tried the next key. Same result. She tried the last key.
It turned, and the door swung open. For a door that showed the rust it did, it moved easily and silently.
She stood to one side as I passed through, then she followed me in, closing the door behind us. A sign on the back said the door was not to be used, except for fire emergencies, and was alarmed. No power, no alarm.
“Don’t suppose I should ask where you got the key?”
“Best not.” She handed me a small torch and turned hers on. I followed suit. There was not a lot of light in front of us. It was, however, quite dark.
“Follow me,” she said, and we set off down a long narrow passage.
© Charles Heath 2020-2021