Beyond the Western
Jack Braden pulled the old book from the cardboard box and blew off the dust. It was titled, Notable Pirates of the Caribbean.
His grandfather had recently passed away and the box of old books he was looking through were part of the estate. His kids didn’t see any value in the old things, so they were left up for grabs.
Jack loved to read so he was happy when he ended up with them.
The book he held was leather bound and it seemed very old. Much older than his grandfather.
To his surprise, when he opened it he discovered it wasn’t a published book at all. Every page had been hand written. It seemed to be more of a journal than a fictional tale of notable pirates.
The book intrigued Jack from the very first entry. He thumbed through its pages and soon discovered it had been written by a man named Louis Boucher, an educated French citizen and self proclaimed pirate who flew the skull and crossbones in Caribbean waters back in the early 1700’s.
His ship was named “Fallen Angel” and he went by the name of Captain Black Diamond.
Jack recalled his grandfathers stories about a pirate being part of the family lineage. He was known by some as the terror of the Caribbean. His ship sailed the area for several years until his eventual capture and subsequent hanging by the French military. Most of the family thought Jack’s Grandfather was a great story teller and the the pirate stories were entertaining, but that was it.
The family wrote them off as nothing more than pure fiction in spite of the fact that his grandfather swore they were true.
Jack was never quite sure. He loved those stories. They always held a special place in the back of his mind.
Now he held a book filled with the very tales of pirates and buried treasure he had heard as a kid. He found the coincidence intriguing. Were the stories his grandfather had told really true? He set everything else aside and spent the better part of the evening reading through the journal.
As he reached the center of the journal, he found a loose page. At first glance he thought it had come loose from the binding. Looking a little closer he realized that it was in fact an added slip of paper.
The paper had been folded in half and tucked between the pages. He unfolded it and discovered it was a drawing of a map.
Written in the journal on the pages where the map was inserted was an account of how the Fallen Angel had accidentally run aground on a sand bar during low tide.
It happened on one of the many caye’s just off the coast of what is now called Belize. The ship was vulnerable as it listed to one side in very shallow water. The crew wasn’t sure if the underside had been damaged. They wouldn’t know until the tide came back in and lifted the ship.
As a precaution, they brought the treasure ashore and buried it. The treasure was a chest filled with gold coins and precious gems. Part of the booty they had plundered over the past year.
When the new tide came in, the ship righted itself but remained stuck. It took two weeks to free it. With hard work from the crew, it finally broke loose, undamaged. It was a close call. They all thought they were going to be left stranded. They decided to leave the treasure right where they had buried it. Captain Black Diamond had drawn the map and kept it in his possession, separate from the journal, should it happen to fall into the wrong hands. Somehow over the years the two had come together and into the possession of his grandfather, and now him.
Apparently Jack’s Grandfather believed the story enough to spend time researching the incident.
Jack knew he had been to Belize on several occasions. On vacation, or so he thought. The loose paper told a different story. He wasn’t vacationing. He was on a treasure hunt.
Jack assumed the buried treasure had never been found. If his grandfather had found it, Jack and the rest of the family would have surely heard about it. Plus, getting the treasure out of the country would have been difficult at best and most likely impossible. “Unless it was smuggled out the same way it was brought in,” Jack wondered, intrigued by the thought.
On the bottom of the map there was some writing. It read, The Taste of Salt Air. That seemed like a strange thing to write, but something about those words looked familiar. Jack had seen them somewhere before.
On a whim, he went back to the box of old books and began to dig through them once again.
Down toward the bottom he discovered it. A book titled The Taste of Salt Air. He had dismissed it earlier, thinking it was just an old novel he would take a closer look at later.
He opened it and discovered it wasn’t a novel at all. It was another journal. This one written by his grandfather. It was a detailed account of his search for the treasure of the Fallen Angel.
Apparently his grandfather was close to discovering it, but age and illness kept him from achieving his dream. Jack’s previous thought of the treasure being found and smuggled out of the country had just been put to rest. It was still there.
He spent the next few weeks going over his grandfathers notes and doing some additional research of the the area where the treasure was to have been buried. According to his grandfathers notes, the most likely caye to hold the treasure was now a tourist destination.
Jack had some vacation time coming and a new found urge to get away to the tropics. The following day he booked a flight to Belize.
His grandfather would have approved.
© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.