TALES FROM THE CARIBBEAN

After Dave (everybody called him Shark Boy) had escorted Labelle to Jessie’s place and seen her safely inside the gate, his next thought was how to get out to his dad’s boat. He had come ashore on Jessie’s boat, which left him stranded on land. He jogged to the public dock and found Ryan sitting on a bench by the dock, staring towards his beloved sailboat and thinking about what the Gypsy sisters had told him.

Ryan had only intended to spend one summer sailing the Caribbean, but when it was time to sell his sailboat and go home, he extended his stay … and then extended it again, and again, and now five years after his graduation from Vanderbilt, he was still here.

“I’m glad I caught you,” Dave said, “because I need a ride out to Pop’s boat.”

All Ryan said in response was to ask quietly and gloomily, “Do you believe the Analusleiscu sisters’ reading about me is really true?”

“Yeah,” Dave said, “but what worries me, is that when they were talking about me, they probably let the cat out of the bag about the buried treasure.”

“Dave, you’ve never mentioned any treasure to me,” Ryan said, shaking his head in puzzlement.

“I know,” said Dave, “That’s because Santana swore me to secrecy. But shortly before he died he told me a story about herding goats on Lovango.”

“What does that have to do with the treasure?” Ryan asked.

Dave suddenly became evasive, and simply said, “I don’t have time to talk right now, please, just get me out to the Flying Circus before this storm hits so I can talk to Pop—it’s really important.”

It was a rough dinghy trip to where his Dad’s mooring ball was, because it was the farthest from shore and the one closest to the open sea. The waves were being whipped into white caps by the kind of gusting winds that preceded a tropical storm, forcing Ryan to struggle with his heading every yard of the way.  When they finally arrived at the Flying Circus, Dave scrambled aboard and Ryan quickly spun his dinghy around and made a big wake back toward his own boat.

Although the cabin lights were out, he discovered that his Dad was awake and seemed glad rather than perturbed by his late visit. His father slid back the hatch, while Dave removed the hatch boards that allowed him access to the cabin. Dave politely ignored Jenny’s large exposed breasts as she struggled to get dressed and the boat pitched and rolled.

“Pop, I need to talk to you—it’s important!”

“Well, let’s have us a sit down,” said his Dad.

Dave looked hesitantly towards Jenny, because he didn’t want to speak in front of her. His Dad quickly grasped the situation, and ordered Jenny topside to secure any loose lines or tackle that might chafe in the wind. It began to rain as Dave began his story.

He told how Santana had sworn him to secrecy before telling him a story about a lost lamb. His dog had led him to a small hole on a high cliff, he told Dave, into which the lost lamb had fallen. After he enlarged the opening and climbed down into it, he not only found his lamb, but also a rotting canvas bag full of gold escudos. Suspecting it was the same treasure Blackbeard had killed sixteen of his men over, he believed that it was cursed—Santana was extremely superstitious—so after he retrieved his lamb, he covered the hole back over with rocks, and never went back there again.

There was of course, much more to the story, but when Jenny returned to the cabin to get out of the rain, Dave stopped talking. The captain ordered Jenny to put on her rain gear, go back topside again, and this time wrap chafing gear on the anchor rode at the bow chock. Jenny was thoroughly ticked off at being sent back out in the rain, but she did as she was ordered.

Dave continued, “Ever since Santana died I’ve been looking for that treasure. When I took Lambini the monk to Lovango to help me search, I swore him to secrecy under the penalty of having his throat cut from left to right, his heart torn out, his innards fed to the birds of the sky, and his remains buried in the sand where the tide comes and goes twice in twenty-four hours. I made it very clear to him what I would do if he ever revealed our secret, and the two of us then searched the seaward side of Lovango.”

“There’s only one spot on that beach where the pirates could’ve landed a longboat. It was my theory that after they stole the treasure, the men rowed to Lovango, pulled the boat up on the sand, hiked up the cliff to a cave, hurriedly hid the treasure, covered the opening, and then returned to their pirate warship. This was a French slave ship which they had captured and renamed the Queen Anne’s Revenge. Centuries later, erosion opened a small hole in the ceiling of the cave, Santana’s lamb fell through it, and that’s how he discovered the treasure.”

“Legend has it the pirates did this while Blackbeard was drunk and passed out, so they didn’t have much time. The monk and I found the only spot they could’ve landed a long boat, and then we climbed the cliff right above it, but before we could find the cave’s entrance, Big Jessie showed up in his boat and wanted to know what we were doing up there. You always told me three could keep a secret if two of them were dead, so I lied and told him I was doing a geology project for school.”

“Did Jessie buy your story?” asked his Dad.

“No, he noticed I didn’t have a rock hammer or any other tools and so I had to change my story and tell him I was looking for Santana’s missing money—the stash he must have built up over the years from selling rum and goat cheese.”

“Did he buy that one?” asked his Dad.

“He was suspicious, but he let it drop and we headed back to Cruise Bay.”

Dave went on to tell his Dad about the strange dream he had been having lately. “I see smoke spouting up from a pile of rocks on the seaward side of Lovango, but when I approach the cliff, I discover it isn’t smoke but a musty smelling dust. Then I always wake up before I can look into the hole.”

“I see,” his Dad said, “and you think the dream points to where Blackbeard’s pirate treasure is buried, and that the gypsy sisters let the cat out of the bag when they started talking about your dream in front of everybody?”

“Exactly. I couldn’t tell at the time if Jessie had picked up on it or not. But after he asked me to escort Labelle back to his place, and told me that he and sheriff were planning a surprise visit to Lovango and the Chicken Ranch, it seems to me that he must have caught on to what the dream was about. So now he’s trying to beat me to the treasure.”

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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