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The closer Dave and the monk Lambini got to the shack, the faster they walked, but it still wasn’t fast enough for the girls from Amsterdam. Normally, the Japanese Yakuza mobsters made them walk three steps behind them, but now the girls started kicking up their heels. There was a sense of excitement in the air that finally had them running like the wind.

“Rooster Barrack came up here too,” explained the monk. “The three-fingered Japanese cook had too many roosters so he decided to kill Barrack and make a stir-fry out of him. The cook blatantly ignored the girl’s protests that Barrack was their pet rooster.”

“So they say,” remarked Dave. “My pop says there’s three sides to every man/woman story: his, hers and the truth.”

“Anyway,” said Lambini, “The cook refused to pardon rooster Barrack, and that caused all the girls at the Chicken Ranch to go on strike. Instead of making things right by being diplomatic, or even by humbly apologizing and thus derailing the strike, he refused to reverse his decision no matter how much the girls begged and pleaded.”

“The cook took pride in his cunning and stealth, but after repeatedly failing to sneak up on Barrack and grab him, he finally unsheathed his samurai sword, screamed “Banzai!” and charged madly at the rooster, who promptly flapped his wings and flew the coop. When the cook took off chasing Barrack, Gretchen saw her chance and made her escape. When the cook stopped running after Barrack and turned around and started chasing Gretchen instead, two of the other girls—Delaney and Delilah—made their escape too.”
Changing the subject back to the monk’s biggest news, Dave commented in amazement, “I can’t believe you found Santana’s stash!”

“It was accidental,” explained the monk. “After that last tropical storm, rain water formed a large puddle around the old outhouse, and I was hoping my goats could drink from it before it went away. But while I watched, a whirlpool formed and the water started draining down into the ground. I opened the door on the old privy, and upon closer inspection, noticed an almost invisible hinge connecting the privy floor to the wall frame. When I pulled up on the floor it easily lifted and exposed a set of stair steps leading down into a dark cavern.”

“There was a maze of tunnels and rooms down there, and the walls of the last room were stair-stepped with rows of cans full of money, tinned food, jerky, and other emergency rations. There were also lanterns, a .44 caliber lever-action rifle, and a .44 caliber pistol, plus several cases of .44 caliber ammunition. That’s where I also found a little wooden box with Santana’s cheese and sausage recipes in it. And, there among those recipes were also the ingredients and correct measurements for making his anti-fungal nut butter.”

“Pop always said, ‘if I had the recipe for Santana’s nut-butter, I could retire a multi-millionaire,’” exclaimed Dave.

The girls were already at the shack by the time Dave and Lambini the monk arrived, so they were asked to stand sentry up on the surface while Dave and the monk explored the secret subterranean rooms under the outhouse.

The monk had inadvertently solved his money problem, but only if he could keep this a secret. If word got out about the money, the sheriff would seize everything, while a vast array of different parties—the man who owned the island, the Internal Revenue Service, the governor, and the antiquities board—all fought over it in court. And the same problem existed for the lost pirate treasure. Dave and the monk knew that they would have to trust somebody for advice about what to do with their money so they didn’t lose it to the IRS, politicians and other parasites.

The girls suddenly sounded an alarm, “Somebody is coming up the hill.” Dave and the monk quickly ascended the cavern’s stair steps and secured the floor of the old privy. The man coming up the hill turned out to be Dave’s dad and he looked to be on a serious mission. He couldn’t, however, keep from grinning when he saw Dave, Lambini, three giggling girls, rooster Barrack, a herd of goats, and a pack of dogs all gathered by the shack.

“Ahoy!” cried the captain.

The monk invited him in for a cold drink, and while they talked, Dave explained to his dad what he found.

“Big Jessie taught me to lay out a string grid, make an accurate drawing, and set up a sifter before we started looting,” said Dave.

“Be sure not to disturb anything,” he said, “especially human remains—unless, of course, they’re right over the artifacts. I also saw a suspicious looking mound covered with volcanic sand that is situated on the opposite side of the cave from the bones. Every molecule in my body is screaming at me that it’s the missing pirate gold,” Dave exclaimed.

Dave’s dad sat back, whistled, and said, “Let’s think about this. There’s got to be a simple way of excavating that cave without everybody in the Caribbean knowing about it. But if we don’t keep this absolutely secret, the powers that be will get the gold and we’ll get the shaft.”

The captain continued: “The sheriff arrived at the ranch shortly after us, and when he and I met with the Japanese cook, we managed to negotiate a settlement over the girls. For a ‘yet to be determined’ amount of cash, never to be publicly revealed, the girls can stay here with Lambini the monk and the chaos will end, but only if the monk signs a contract with the cook and starts supplying the fresh meat, leather, wool, milk, rum and goat cheese which the Yakuza want control of. In fact, the cook sincerely wishes a satisfactory settlement. He even sweetened the deal by offering to pump desalinated water up here to the shack, and he also promised to run an electrical wire from their big generator to here. But all of this will take place only if Lambini signs the contract. To be continued …

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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