Peter rigged a rope and tied it to the base of a tree. The hole was well-below the water-line, but dryer than an Egyptian tomb in the desert. Blue sky made our descent into darkness less threatening. Scrolls and maps and seaman’s charts were stuffed into the walls. The air smelled of dust and alcohol.
“That chest isn’t locked,” I said.
“Well, let’s have a look see then.”
“Wait, we don’t know what’s inside.”
“Anything alive, has already died. What could go wrong?” And Peter opened the lid. Gold Galleons and jewels and ivory pistols greeted our eyes.
“This is bigger than National Geographic,” I said.
“Well, there’s only one thing left to do. We’ve got to load my ship with treasure.” Peter climbed out of the hole and lowered a bucket down, while I shoveled jewels for him. It was one of those rare moments when reality doesn’t seem real. Hoisting hundreds of pounds of treasure out of a hole takes a long time. So, I tried the rum, and it wasn’t bad, but I decided not to get drunk on the job. Whenever I saw Peter’s face above the hole, it changed, in some small way, like a wrinkle or line, that normally takes several years to define. It was happening to his face, small significant lines.
“Peter, are you okay?”
Was it the hesitation in his voice or was it mine?” Something was off; trust wasn’t there. All the treasure was in his ship; dust and charts and alcohol were down here. I shrugged off my doubt and grabbed the rope, which fell limp in my hands like a puppet on a string. “Peter!” I shouted. “I say…Peter!” No response. The boat motor CHUNKED and came to life. I was marooned; left for dead, by a friend I thought was a friend. Maybe treasure is cursed. It causes men to do things they would never do.
I spent the day and night in that hopeless hole without the marooned man’s rights, a pistol with one shot. Dehydration by alcohol was my doom as I drank into the next day. Too much of a realist to hope for a rescue. I was thirsty and drunk, when I heard shouting on the shore. Was it a mirage, fueled by alcoholic blood? I ripped off my shirt and stuffed it into a bottle, pulling a lighter from my pocket; a habit I couldn’t quit. Fire burned the bottle and I threw it towards the sky. A palm tree went up like a roman candle and loud-mouthed beach boys looked into my hole.