TALES FROM THE CARIBBEAN

After thoroughly cleaning the cedar bucket and stowing it under the sink the hungry monk continued to inquire of Dave — or Shark Boy as they called him — exactly what it was they were looking for. As the Dream Weaver continued its rapid course through the tossing waves, Dave at last relented to the monk’s persistent questions, but not before he swore him to secrecy and warned him that if he ever divulged their secret it would be under the penalty of having his throat cut, his heart plucked out, his bowels removed and his remains buried at the low water mark where the tide came and went twice in 24 hours. Although the penalty seemed unbelievably harsh to the monk his curiosity demanded satisfaction.

After agreeing to Dave’s terms he heard the most incredible story that he had ever been told. A local legend existed about an island named Dead Man’s Chest. According to said legend, the pirate Blackbeard stranded sixteen of his men on the island, with only one bottle of rum and one cutlass, for stealing a bag of his gold escudos. When Blackbeard later returned only one man was left alive, but he killed him too so he could be certain he had punished the culprit.

It was anybody’s guess where the culprits might have hidden the gold, but once when Dave was talking to Santana the old man told him this story: After a monster fish had devoured his father and grandfather he gave up fishing and moved to Lovango, where he herded goats and produced cheese to support his humble life. One Spring day while he was looking for a lost kid, his dog began circling a small hole over a cliff, and when he investigated more closely, he found that, sure enough, the kid had fallen into the hole. When he climbed down into it, he discovered a tattered old canvas bag filled with gold escudos. Santana came to believe that this was the missing gold Blackbeard had killed sixteen men over. The thieves, after their heist, must have taken a long boat from Tortolla to Lovango and stashed their loot in this cave high up in the cliffs.

Now, years later, Santana’s goat had fallen through the ceiling of this very cave. Santana was honest to a fault, and felt that the gold now rightfully belonged to his landlord, if anyone. But he furthermore believed it had a curse on it, so he covered the hole with rocks and forgot about it.

Dave, however, never forgot that story and never shared it with anybody else; he planned on searching for it after the old man died.

As the Dream Weaver neared the seaward side of the little island of Lovango, all conversation stopped and Dave began making ready the anchor. Dave ordered the helm into the wind while he dropped the main and rolled in the headsail, with just enough forward momentum left over to turn downwind, cross the eye of the wind, and then turn directly upwind to rid themselves of the last remaining forward momentum. As the speed of the boat neared zero, steerage disappeared, but just as the wind began to blow the boat backwards, Dave hand-over-handed the anchor chain and rode the anchor down to the sandy bottom, where he played out sufficient length to keep her stuck fast, and finally set the anchor with a mighty tug.

After the sails and lines were secured, Shark Boy and the monk studied the rocky coastline for a place to safely land the dinghy.

“There’s only so many places along this shore,” Dave observed, “where a long boat could have landed. Since we know they hid their loot in a cave high on a cliff, it looks to me like that one little recessed flat spot is the only possible place.”

They climbed into the dinghy and headed for shore. Once they had landed, they had to make a rough and precarious climb to the top of the cliff. Although they could see no cave opening there, they noticed rocks of a different color from the others had been stacked at one place. To conceal something perhaps? To be continued.

John Stark

The author of the "Tales from the Caribbean" fictional column. He attended school at Waynedale Elementary, Maplewood, Elmhurst HS in the Waynedale area. John had 25 years of professional writing experience when he passed away in 2012.

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John Stark

The author of the “Tales from the Caribbean” fictional column. He attended school at Waynedale Elementary, Maplewood, Elmhurst HS in the Waynedale area. John had 25 years of professional writing experience when he passed away in 2012.

> Read Full Biography
> More Articles Written By This Writer