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.
Boggs is not a happy man
I could feel the waves of hate emanating from Boggs as he was staring at Nadia, who was doing her best to ignore him.
The previous evening when I made the suggestion to her that we should do whatever we could to aid in his search, on the Cossatino’s beach head without involving the Cossatinos, and in an attempt to have a backup plan if they caught up with us, met the same stony silence as it had when I told Boggs.
Her response was a stony, ‘don’t expect me to go up against my father and Vince, I’m not that brave.”
All Cossatino’s were tarred with the same brush, he said, just short of telling me he was convinced she was working with them, trying to find out what he knew via me. He didn’t believe me when I told him she had done anything but interrogate me.
I wanted to believe she was not on their side, but just in case he might be right, my idea was to keep the enemy, if she was playing me, close. Certainly, if the family turned up to thwart us, then I’d be convinced she was against us.
But, at least we’d then know, and it would make little difference in the end. What Boggs was planning, with or without me, was basically suicide.
And she had voiced exactly the arguments that I’d already expected, although stopping short of saying she would not be part of it.
What had surprised me, Boggs had actually come, knowing Nadia would be there.
I let the silence reign for a minute or so, then dived in.
Both heads turned towards me, and I could feel the temperature rise about 10 degrees.
“I had imagined this would go so much better when I planned it in my head, but I can see quite plainly there are trust issues on either side. The point is, Boggs, you can’t do this on your own. You tried once and failed. You might get lucky a second time, but I suspect the Cossatinos know now what you’re trying to do, and will be waiting.”
“They tried to kill me,” he muttered.
That might be putting it a bit strongly, because he had said as much to the sheriff, and the Cossatino’s denied it, as expected, but the evidence was quite clear, Boggs’s rope had been severed with a knife, located when the sheriff had visited the site and found the rope still attached to the top of the cliff.
The Cossatinos had been sloppy in covering their tracks, and the excuse they had been rock climbing hadn’t been taken seriously since no equipment had been found at the house, and none of them could provide any details of doing so elsewhere.
Evidence or not, no charges had been laid yet, nor had the Cossatinos proceeded with a trespass charge, perhaps fearing a more detailed investigation might be too intrusive or prove Boggs’s case. In turn, Boggs had been forced to agree not to go back, but simple words on the paper he signed, meant nothing.
“Deter you, I’d say,” Nadia said, “because killing you would bring unwanted attention to their activities.”
Nadia was probably right because Boggs’s quest was too well known, as was the theory that the treasure was still on The Grove. Already, the story was on the front page of the local paper, and Lenny was trying to get interviews.
And it was attracting attention from other media. If anything, the Cossatinos would want to hose it down, not throw fuel on the fire.
“Well, you’re not dead,” I said, “fortuitously we found you, and now if you are going to persist with this quest, there has to be a plan, and Nadia has to be part of it.”
“I’ve already told you I don’t need anyone’s help.”
“OK. Then I’ll start my own quest, with Nadia’s help, and we’ll see who gets to the treasure first. I told you I believe I know where it is, and I think you believe you know too. Your problem will be getting back there, whereas, I have no such problem. So,” I pointed to the door, “you can leave any time, but don’t call me again. We’re done.”
I glared back at him, and while not exactly squirming in his seat, he appeared to be mulling over the ultimatum. I hadn’t planned to give him one, but he was pushing all the wrong buttons.
It also elicited an interesting look from Nadia, because it was the first time she was hearing that I knew where the treasure was. It was a calculated risk telling her, but I’d know soon enough whose side she was on.
“If you sign a document forfeiting any rights over the treasure you have a deal. Both of you.”
So, it came down to the money, pure and simple. I thought I’d made it clear long ago that I wasn’t interested in anything to do with the treasure because it was cursed. “No problem.”
I looked at Nadia.
“God no, I want nothing to do with it. I’ve seen what the obsession with wealth can do to people, and families, and it’s why I left. I’m happy to sign anything you want.”
He pulled what looked to be sheets of folded paper from his pocket, unfolded them, and gave one to each of us.
“Call me when they’re notarized.” With a final glare, he left.
That left Nadia looking at me with a curious expression. “You know where the treasure is?”
“Maybe. I just wanted to put the wind up him because I think he does. There are clues that Boggs doesn’t know about, and I haven’t told him about. I believe according to some of the information I’ve found, that he was in the right place when we found him.”
“I didn’t see any caves or tunnels, or any sort of hiding place, just rocks.”
“There are a few factors involved that make that area a likely spot and the reasons that spot was chosen. One is that there doesn’t seem to be apparent access by land, other than the way we came, across the rocks, but at the time the pirates might not have had the time or the know-how to get there by anything other than the sea.”
“So, you’re saying they came by sea. How did they get past the reefs? And how the hell could they see a cave or tunnel in that rockface?”
“It’s been a couple of hundred years, and I think back then that shoreline would have been a lot different. I’m not a geologist but that cliff face shows signs of rockfalls and slippage, so it’s possible it’s now concealed. From what I’ve read, just in the newspaper archives alone, there’s been seismic activity occurring for the last seventy-odd years and maybe even during the last few centuries, just look at the fact there used to be a lake further inland. Then, I suspect they came ashore by an abnormally high tide. For an experienced seafarer, it has the pluses, and precise navigation through the reef, and it’s the hardest to get to spot on the Grove’s coastline. An ideal spot that is to everyone other than a master mariner, an unlikely place to get to.
She looked like she was weighing up the pros and cons of what I’d told her.
“I’m surprised you’re telling me this.”
“The chances of the treasure still being there or that I’m right about the location is quite remote, so it doesn’t really matter. Anyway, up to now, you haven’t given me a reason not to trust you, so if there’s anything you want to tell me, now would be the time.”
So, she had considered how it might look to me, the family name and reputation she had inherited.
“I’ve told you what my situation is. To be honest, I don’t think there’s any treasure to be found either. I once heard a discussion between family members, when I was very young and didn’t understand what they were talking about, involving putting a story out there that there was a treasure, and if they sold it well enough, people would pay plenty for maps. In my opinion, the treasure story is a Cossatino special money-making scheme built off Ormiston’s and layer, Boggs’s obsession. The myth has been perpetuated by articles in papers, and new maps surfacing from time to time. I’d be surprised if you did find anything, but for Boggs’s sake, it’s better he learn the truth than hang on to false hope.”
“So you know it’s all a hoax?”
“On the face of it, you would think so, but Vince, not the sharpest of people, bought into it, especially when Boggs’s father came on board to draw the maps. He was a cartographer you know, and worked for the county authorities in mapping the area. I’m guessing that’s how he got started on this treasure thing. That was another story my father liked to tell us, how Boggs had found a cave that was a pirates lair, only to see it destroyed not long after in one of the recent earthquakes. That discovery turned him into a true believer and was happy to help the Cossatino’s so he could muddy the water while he searched for it. There have always been rumors of treasure along this coastline. It might be possible there was treasure somewhere, but don’t you think it’d be found by now?”
“Logic dictates that it would be, but anything’s possible. Why did you take me on that coin-seeking exercise?”
“The truth Sam? I heard Vince talking about Boggs snooping around, and I was hoping we’d find nothing. Vince can be an ass most of the time, and I want to believe he wouldn’t do anything to seriously hurt Boggs, just put the wind up him. Thankfully nothing happened, and it’s the best I could do in the circumstances. I’m sorry.”
Was she by definition somewhere between a rock and a hard place?
“This time we were lucky. Next time it might be a very different story. I’ll understand if you want to quit now, because you may have to pick a side.”
“Let’s hope then it doesn’t come to that.”
© Charles Heath 2020-2022