I've always wanted to go on a Treasure Hunt - Part 58
Here’s the thing...
It was only an hours’ worth of skimming newspapers, for the dates I’d discovered at the cemetery, and the month around the time that Boggs’s father had disappeared, because the date of death for Friedrich Ormiston had a familiar ring to it.
They’d both apparently died in the same year, within months of each other.
Of course, there was a twist.
Neither of the two men’s bodies had been found, and both missing person’s cases had remained open for the specified period before being declared legally dead. I knew that to be the case for Boggs’s father, but I had not really known the details of the circumstances.
The paper had played up the disappearance of both men, pushing the Treasure hunt aspect knowing it would bring in readers, and perhaps get picked up by the big city papers. It had got a television crew down briefly, I remembered that much, and the fact Boggs had wanted nothing to do with it.
The story, though, was interesting, that everyone remembered that fateful night in the bar when he had been telling anyone who would listen that he had found ‘the’ clue to the treasure’s whereabouts, and the drunker he got, the more outlandish the story.
A number of people who were visiting the town because suspects simply because they were out of towners, and subsequently cleared in the ensuing investigation. What had turned up was the fact he owed a great deal of one to loan sharks, and one in particular, who was in town to collect on a prior loan for a fruitless search, and who was a prime suspect.
In the end, the price of his freedom was to forgo the collection of the debt.
Yet another was unmasked as a fellow treasure hunter with a dubious past, having been jailed for earlier transgressions of stealing other’s finds, but he claimed he was not a legitimate treasure hunter, and that he was in town at the request of Benderby, to oversee the dredging of a part of the bay for more coins. It had been a fruitless endeavor.
But despite his assertions, no one really believed Boggs’s father’s claims and had dismissed it as the usual ravings that had become his mantra for many years. Only his son believed him.
Boggs himself had made the newspaper, a photo of him by the grave where his father’s spirit rather than body had been buried, vowing to prove his father right.
What added to the legend was the disappearance and apparent death of Ormiston not long after. The story of his search for the treasure was long and fruitless, one of dissipating the family fortune in search of another.
His disappearance was attributed to the fact he had become erratic and forgetful, the town doctor at the time telling the coroner’s inquest that he had early onset dementia and was prone to wandering off. This time it had been his downfall.
A search had been mounted and all the cave systems were checked, known to be the places he frequented the most, and when a new rockslide was discovered in one of the caves, it was assumed he had ventured too far and been trapped. Several attempts were made to clear the way, but the fall had been far too extensive and had to be abandoned.
Every few years the paper revisited Boggs’s disappearance, but there was no new information, and after ten years nothing more was written. It seemed that Lenny had a continued interest in the Treasure hunt because he had filed a number of newspaper reports, making it easy for me to get the gist of the story.
Then, several months ago, he had written a new story, a small piece that I had missed, reporting on Boggs’s discovery of a new map of the coastline, one that suggested that the site of the ill-fated mall was, in fact, an entrance to the cave system where the treasure may have been placed. It referenced a survey that had been made before the second world war, one that hinted that the cave system was much larger than originally thought, and quite likely went all the way to the mountains, the origin of an ancient underground river.
The fact the mall site had been the victim of flooding made that seemed to make that assumption plausible, but apparently, no one else had seen that particular map, and Boggs had not been forthcoming in sharing it with the reporter.
But aside from those few paragraphs nothing more was said.
It explained what Boggs was doing when we went to the mall site.
All of that was condensed into a page of notes in my notepad, where it would have to stay for a day or so because I had to go home, change and go to work.
Perhaps tomorrow I would get to talk to Boggs about it.
As luck would have it, I ran into Boggs just up the street where he was coming out of the hardware store with a skein of rope slung over his shoulder.
“Just the person I’m looking for,” I said.
His look told me that I was the last person he wanted to see.
“I’m busy, Sam. Can we do this another time?”
“Planning a lynching?” My eyes went from him to the rope, and back.
“Climbing. I’m going away for a few days, get away from everything, and do something other than think about treasure.”
“Probably a good idea. I’m sorry I haven’t been much of help lately, with work and stuff.”
It was a pointed question, and I knew he had seen me with her. I had thought it might be Alex.
“Being Nadia, leopards don’t change their spots, and I’m trying to keep the enemies close so I can track what they’re up to.”
“There’s close and then there’s too close, Sam.”
“True, but it’s not what you think.”
“I don’t know what to think anymore. Let’s just leave it at that, and I’ll call you when I get back.”
I knew the tone, and I could smell a burnt bridge. Maybe it was time to give him some space, and I could get on with a bit of research and bring it to him when he was in a more receptive frame of mind.
“As you wish. Be careful out there.”
© Charles Heath 2020-2022