Amateur cartoonist and writer, actual architect, coffee lover, and professional et ceteratist. May contain offbeat cartoons, short stories, fan art, and/or platypuses. I'm also on Twitter and Instagram as aarondoodles, and Tumblr at http://aarondoodles.tumblr.com/.
Been a while since I posted a short story. This was inspired when my brother sent me
this story about a real-life treasure hunter. He buried a pile of treasure that he collected after a lifetime of globetrotting in search of rare artifacts. Think about that. Real buried treasure, complete with clues hidden in the cryptic lines of a poem. Now that kind of adventure is something that we need more of in this world. These two guys thought so too. Some day this may turn into a larger project, but for now, enjoy!
“Lost & Found”
Aaron M. Smith – 4 March 2013
“And you’re sure about
this Conner?” Cody asked as he buckled his seatbelt.
“Dude, yes. Yes, for the
hundredth time, yes, I’m sure this is legitimate. I read about it on Huffington
Post. They wouldn’t put it on there if it wasn’t true.” Conner passed his
brother the manila folder as he slid behind the driver’s seat of his pickup
truck. “There’s a printout of the story in there. Read it again.” The engine
turned over with a rumble.
“’California Man Burys
His Legacy, Invites Treasure Hunters To Find It’,” Cody read from the top page
of the dossier as his brother pulled the truck onto the street. “’Yes, I’m
serious, says seventy-eight year old actor, amateur anthropologist and treasure
hunter Malcolm Gregory Steelgrave,’ Okay, first of all, that can’t be this
guy’s real name. It’s too perfect.”
“He’s an actor, it’s
probably not his real name,” Conner said. “Keep reading.”
“’After a lifetime of
philanthropy and adventure, Steelgrave says that it’s time for him to pass his
legacy on to the next generation. “I’ve buried six lockboxes, each with a
different cache from my journeys around the world throughout the American west,
and I invite anyone with a taste for adventure and fortune to look for them”,
says Steelgrave. “If you can solve my puzzles, then you deserve my treasure”’.”
“You see?” Conner said.
“And this crazy old
weirdo is serious?” Cody said. “He’s not just trying to drum up publicity for
his next movie or sell compasses or something? Because I am not in the mood to play along with an
augmented reality campaign.”
“Would you just shut up?”
Conner said. “If you’re going to do this all week, then just get out of the
truck right now.”
“I can’t get out, we’re
already on US-89.”
“Oh well, looks like
you’ll just have to shut the hell up then.”
“You shut up.”
“You shut up.”
They rode in silence
for a few minutes.
“Read the first clue
again,” Conner said.
“ ‘When the nation was
split, the old man in blue stood to defend. Four miles high, ever facing East,
white hair and green shoes, one of my caches is in his back pocket. Follow the
raven’s shadow’. That makes no damn sense.”
“Oh come on, were you
even reading it?” Cody said. “He’s
talking about Humphrey’s peak!”
Conner re-read the
clue, then looked out the windshield. In the distance he could see the
snow-topped Humphrey’s peak, the highest point in Arizona. He let the clue roll
around in his brain for a moment longer.
“Andrew Humphrey was a
Union general,” he recited, recalling as best he could from his eighth grade
history class, “The peak isn’t quite four miles high. Okay, white hair and
green shoes I get, the snow and the tree line. Facing east?”
“If Humphrey is looking
east,” Cody said, filling in the blanks, “Then his back is West. And if the treasure is in his back pocket, it’s
somewhere halfway up the West side of the peak.”
“But the peak is
freakin’ huge, Conner. How the hell are we supposed to know where on the West side to look?”
“It’ll have something
to do with that raven’s shadow line. I haven’t figured that one out yet. But I
figure by the time we get there we’ll have it solved, or else we’ll figure it
out when we get there. No big deal.”
For the first time
since his brother came to him with the idea two weeks earlier, Cody started to
get excited. What if Conner was right? Was there actually a treasure out there,
just waiting for someone to stumble across it?
“You’d really have to
know the mountain to understand that clue,” Cody said, mostly to himself. “Not
a lot of people would get that.”
“And you’ve got to figure
that most of the people capable of solving the clue are just going to be like
‘That’s too much work, it’s not worth the effort. Someone else will get there
first’, et cetera.” Conner said, seizing the opportunity to reinforce his
“A lot of people are
going to give up before they even start,” Cody agreed. He flipped through more
of the pages in the folder. “You really did your research on this didn’t you?”
They rode in silence
for another minute.
“This is going to be awesome,” Cody said quietly.
“I know, right?” Conner
exploded, excited to see his brother finally getting into the expedition. He
drove for another few miles, unable to shake the grin from his face.
“Thanks,” Cody said a
few minutes later.
“For dragging me on
this. For getting me out of the house and making me do something.”
“You’d do the same for
“…yeah, probably,” Cody
“It’s been a rough
“I guess I needed
this,” Cody said.
“I think so too.”
They were quiet for
“If we find the
treasure, do you think I’d have to give her half?” Cody said.
“I don’t know,” Conner
said. “I guess if you declare it, you would.”
“Probably have to pay
taxes on it all,” Cody said.
“Oh yeah, definitely.”
The sound of tires on
the road dominated the cab.
“Okay, I have an idea,”
Cody said. “If we find anything, it’s all yours.”
“I’m listening,” Conner
said, cracking a smile.
douche. Just until the divorce is final. Then you give me my half.”
Conner thought about
it. “I guess it could work.”
“Sure it would.
Ownership is nine-tenths of the law,” Cody said.
“I’ll ask Brit about
it. She’d know for sure.”
“You marrying a CPA was
a pretty smooth move,” Cody said.
“I didn’t just marry
her to get my taxes done for free,” Conner said, but then he noticed the tiny
twinge of hurt that had colored his brother’s words. He reached over and turned
on the radio to break the silence. A wailing electric guitar solo poured from
“Oh man, Peter Frampton
is the man!” Cody said.
“Hang on, hang on, I
love this part,” Conner said. He took his hands off of the wheel and mimed the
guitar solo. “Do yooooooouuuuu, YOU!” He shouted along with the radio, and his
brother joined in on the rest of the lyric.