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.
Charlene after talking to Boggs
Charlene was standing in the elevator lobby, with the look of a person who was waiting.
Perhaps she was expecting Boggs to make a run for it, but that was hardly likely since there was a deputy outside the door to his room, a new addition after Charlene had been asked to leave.
“Have you got a few minutes?” It was a question where the only answer was yes, or else.
I was not going to push the ‘or else’ button.
She led the way to a room that looked to me like a consulting room for doctors, ushered me through then closed the door. She sat behind the desk and left me to sit in an uncomfortable patient’s chair.
While she consulted her notebook, I took the time to think back to school days and the motley group that had been in my graduation year, of which Charlene was one. She too had chosen to stay, despite the lack of post-graduation opportunities, and it was no surprise she ended up in the police, having once had the ambition of becoming an investigative journalist. It was no surprise then she was now a detective in training.
She left the notebook open on a blank page and gave me her attention. “So, what have you been doing with yourself since school?”
An odd question to ask, but in her mind, I suspect it was an opening gambit to set the interviewee’s mind at rest, a veritable calm before the storm.
Odd also because she knew what happened as well as anyone, her father, the Sherriff, Being an occasional visitor at my mother’s house, an obligation he felt after my father passed.
Other than that, we had run into each other from time to time since leaving school but she had never shown any interest on any of those occasions.
“I’m sure your father may have mentioned our family circumstances, so if you’re looking for information on Boggs, come out and say so, don’t try to feign interest in my welfare.”
Perhaps that was a little harsh, and certainly not how I wanted it to sound, but she had written an op-ed in the town newspaper reviling her contemporary’s lack of enthusiasm to get a job, and rather become the problem, not the solution to the counties economic woes.
She looked taken aback, not expecting such a response. Her expression changed, more resolute. “Boggs is looking at an array of charges. What was he doing there? You’re his friend, I’m sure he confides in you.”
“Hoe little you know what bring a friend means, but for the record, we were once, but like he said, my cavorting with Nadia put an end to that.”
“Before that, then.”
“You know as well as I do what the Boggs’s are about, father and son alike.”
“He was looking for fabled treasure.”
“Scaling a rock face? I hardly think so. He does rock climbing, caving, and a variety of things I have no interest in. The Grove shoreline has some of the best rock climbing in the state. The question you should be asking is how did such an experienced climber finish up half-dead on the beach.”
I wasn’t going to make it easy for her.
“What were you doing on the beach when you discovered him?”
“Cavorting with Nadia.”
It sounded salacious, and I wished on that moment it had been. It provided the distraction I needed and made me consider her next gambit because I think I knew why we were in that room.
After a moment or two of silence, I added, “No chance of pinning a trespass charge on me then.”
She took a deep breath, a sigh from a person who knew she was not making any headway, or however she thought this conversation was going to go, it had been blown off course.
“Look, I’m not the enemy here. I’m just trying to do my job and find out what happened. We have no problem with Boggs’s conducting a treasure hunt, so long as he doesn’t break the law. Old man Cossatino said Boggs was trespassing, which technically, he was. Do you know why Boggs would think the treasure is located on The Grove?”
Time to diffuse this line of questioning.
“You know this or you’re just guessing?”
“There is no treasure, just the Cossatino’s promoting a myth. Pirates may have sailed by, but I’m sure this wasn’t the place to leave their booty. There’s plenty of once uninhabited islands in the Caribbean they could have used.”
“In other words, you really have no idea?”
“I’m a realist, and I’ve told Boggs he should be one too.”
“I hope that will include telling him that trespass is a crime, and if he keeps doing it, we will be forced to arrest and charge him.”
“I’ll tell him anything you want me to.”
A thought popped into my head, one I probably should have thought of earlier, or perhaps it was because an opportunity presented itself.
The mall, and Alex.
“I have a tip for you, one that might help the case of the dead professor on Rico’s boat. First of all, Rico didn’t do it.”
“He has form and he’s done something similar before.”
“Kill a professor?”
“Shakedown a mark with violence. Only this time he went too far.”
I shook my head. “He didn’t do it. No, that more in Alex Benderby’s department.”
“Alex. You must be kidding. He just acts tough.”
I shrugged. “Being naive about Alex will get you into trouble. Alex is anything but harmless, and I can attest to that, school days and beyond. But, here’s some advice you might want to act on before the evidence is destroyed. There’s a room in the mall on the second level where the mall cops hung out. Back of the second one along there’s a safe. At the back of the top desk drawers, there is a post-it note with the combination. I think that’s where you will find a diary that the professor had before it was taken off him.”
“How do you know about this.”
“I overhead a conversation, remember I work for the Benderby’s and in Alex’s domain, the warehouse.”
“You know what they say about eavesdroppers…”
I shook my head again. “Did the professor’s autopsy and the analysis of the boat show he was killed there?”
That question was met with a furrowed brow, but there was enough expression change to tell me he wasn’t killed on the boat.
“You know I can’t comment on an ongoing investigation.”
“Don’t have to. You’re going to need to work on your poker face. I think that Alex lured the professor down here with the pirate’s diary perhaps offering a large sum of money as an incentive to share, and when he wouldn’t play nice, they encouraged him to change his mind. I suspect they tried too hard, and the old professor had a heart attack. Alex never was the patient type.”
“It makes a good story.”
“Well, you can’t say I didn’t try. I’ll have a go at trying to dissuade Boggs from anything illegal, but you know what the lure of fabulous riches can do. Is the case of Boggs’s father still open?”
“If you mean, is it a cold case, yes, but there’s very little to go on. The evening before he disappeared, he proclaimed he’d found the final resting place of the treasure trove, though he didn’t exactly say where. At the time he was working for Cossatino, making treasure maps for the gullible. Later, outside the hotel in the car park, he was confronted by one of those gullible people, who demanded his money back, a scuffle then fight broke out. By the time the fight was broken up by a passing patrol, we believe that Boggs had sustained severe injuries, serious enough that it’s possible he died of them after blacking out or falling to his death. They dredged the river from the hotel to the sea, but it may have been too late, and he’d been swept of to sea on the tide. The other guy was charged, held in connection with Boggs’s disappearance, but ultimately released through lack of evidence or a body. There may never be a resolution, nor Boggs ever being found, a sad state of affairs for the family.”
It was a sad tale, but one with some information I’d not heard before, and I didn’t think Boggs knew, or I’d he did, had failed to tell me. The fight in the car park, and the fact it could have led to his death. I guess that didn’t fit well with the treasure hunter myth that Boggs junior had built up about his father.
Being killed by a disgruntled punter was not exactly fit the Boggs ethos.
“Not exactly a fitting end, was it?”
“Defrauding people is not exactly going to make you friends, especially when the maps are fake, and they’re all different, purportedly made by the same pirate. He knew what he was doing, and ultimately paid for it.”
Cold, but true.
“Then let’s hope Boggs doesn’t follow in his father’s footsteps. I hope you consider investigating the mall room because I think you’re going to find something there, even if it doesn’t directly point the finger at Alex.”
“I’ll tell the sheriff, it’s ultimately his decision, not mine.”
“Good. Now, if you have finished, I have a job to go to.”
© Charles Heath 2020-2022