“A For Real Treasure”

Ben called Kate, Willy and Jold to let them know what was up with Tali and that Grandpa Jimmy had a plan. It would be an adventure and it might help Tali and her mom keep their home. No doubt, the inseparable gang would rally behind Tali. Nothing would keep them away from the clubhouse this Saturday.

Four of the five were at the hangar by 8:00 am. Ben unlocked the hangar. They rolled it fully open so the Shirley Ann could taxi out if that were in the plan.

Ben and Kate jumped in the Shirley Ann to check supplies. “Let’s, see,” said Ben. He pointed as he spoke. “Coats, boots, gloves, ropes, backpacks, hatchet, bow, sleeping bags and a tent. It’s all here… Kate, look at this, a couple of pickaxes and three shovels. Grandpa Jimmy must have put them here. Hmmm, wonder what they’re for?”

“No idea… hey Jold,” Kate hollered, “Did you bring the food?”

“Yep, got a couple dozen energy bars, three large bags of potato chips and a Sam’s Club size box of Oreos. Oh yeah, got a big case of bottled water too, and a bag of dog food for Bandit.” Jold had built a tiny trailer out of old bike tires and an orange crate. He could hitch it to his bike for haulin’ things. Perfect, since he was in charge of food.

“When is Tali coming?” asked Willy.

“Don’t worry, she’ll be here,” said Ben. “Her mom is pretty upset, probably wants Tali to stay home today. But she’s coming, I know it.”

“Brought my drone and plenty of batteries this time. Got a feeling we’re going to need it on this adventure,” said Willy.

Grandpa Jimmy didn’t pull up till nearly 10:00.Tali was in the front seat with him and her bike was in back. She slid out, lowered the tailgate, took the bike from the bed and parked it with the others, never saying a word. 

“Come on back to my workbench,” said Grandpa Jimmy. “Got somthin’ to show ya. See that picture in the middle, Tali, the one with the Shirley Ann baking in the desert? Would you reach that for me?

Tali took it down, dusted it off a bit and handed it to Jimmy. He turned it over and pulled out the tacks that held the cardboard backing in place. Between the cardboard and the picture was an old faded paper. It looked a lot like parchment, the kind the gang had seen when their class visited a historical museum. It was folded neatly to fit perfectly in the 8×10 frame.

“Take a look at this,” he said as he handed it to Tali. She unfolded the paper to discover what looked like a hand drawn map. “Is this some kind of map?” she asked.

“Look closely,” he replied.

Tali laid it on the workbench while the gang gathered around. A line with tiny directional arrows had been drawn, twisting, and turning around unusually named landmarks. At the end of the trail were the words, ‘only the brave dare enter.’  Tali leaned forward, then picked up the map and held it to the light. “I can’t make it out, but I think there’s a name at the bottom.”

Willy pulled out his trusty magnifying glass that he always carried it in his back pocket for emergencies; good for lighting fires and cremating ants. “Here, this will help,” he said.

“Yeah, there’s a name. It’s H..e..r..m..a..n W..o..l..f. Herman Wolf.”

“Who’s Herman Wolf, anyone ever heard of him?” asked Jold.

“I have,” said Grandpa Jimmy.

“Herman Wolf was a lawman who lived in Canyon Diablo Arizona, a lawless wild west town. The first 35 lawmen who dared put on the star in Diablo were dead and buried on the towns Boot Hill within weeks. Herman Wolf was the only one who lived long enough to die  of natural causes. His gravestone is there today. I’ve seen it.”

Grandpa Jimmy had the gang’s full attention.

“Legend has it, that late one Saturday night Herman had to break up a drunken brawl in the saloon. With a Colt 45 and a lot of muscle he succeeded at arresting the culprit who had started the fight and locking him behind bars. He would spend the night sobering up in his cell, or so Herman thought. Laying on the cot, still running off at the mouth, and too drunk to realize what he was revealing, he told a remarkable story to the lawman.

At first it sounded like a lot of nonsense, but as Herman listened it became more intriguing. He told the lawman he had been a member of the infamous “Red Jack” gang. And that he and another  partner from the gang had robbed a stagecoach near Canyon Station; something that happened a lot in those days. The drunk said he got away clean, but his partner was shot and killed. Said he stashed the loot in a cave that no one would ever find. ‘I’ve got the only map,’ he boasted with a laugh.

It was a long shot, but Herman asked anyway, ‘so, where’s the map?’ And to his surprise, ‘in my saddle bag,’ was the answer.

The drunk’s horse was in the livery stable. When the outlaw finally fell asleep, Herman moseyed over to the livery and searched through the saddle bag. Sure enough, stuffed in-between the pages of an old worn Bible was the map. Guess he figured no one would ever open a Bible.

Herman always figured that when he retired from being a lawman, he’d go lookin’ for the treasure. But, he died before he had the chance. His family ended up with the map. At least that’s the way I heard the story from his only grandson and last living relative.”

“How did you get the map, Grandpa Jimmy?” asked Ben.

“When I was flying for Air America in Vietnam, I met his grandson who served in special forces. Flew him on several missions; we became good friends. Last mission I flew with him was the last day of his life. He had been seriously wounded and I was getting him back to base. Before we took off, he motioned for me, then pulled me close so he could whisper in my ear. ‘If I don’t make it, there’s a letter I wrote for you in my footlocker.’ He was gone by the time we arrived at the base.

When I got back to the states, I followed his instructions in the letter. They led me to his old rundown cabin in the Arizona desert. It may have originally belonged to his grandpa; don’t know for sure. In the letter he described where the map was hidden. Found it right where he said it was, but never went searching for the treasure. Just kept the map with this picture all these years.”

“Why?” asked Ben.

“Savin’ it for you all.”

“But, why would you save a map for someone in the future you had never met?” asked Kate.

Grandpa Jimmy gave her a wink and a big grin. “I’m thinkin’ you all need to take the picture and the map and jump aboard the Shirley Ann. She’ll get you there, then its up to you,” answered Jimmy. He stood to his feet and walked toward the door. “Got stuff to do, see ya later.”

“A for real treasure. Awesome!” said Jold.

“Let’s get going,” said Ben.

He headed for the Shirley Ann with the gang following, all except Tali. Ben walked back to the workbench, “you’re coming aren’t ya?”

“My mom really needs me, maybe I better not.”

“Why were you in the truck with Grandpa Jimmy?”

“He just showed up at my house this morning. Wanted to talk with my mom, in private. When they finished, my mom said I could go to the hangar for a little while if I wanted, but not to stay long.”

“No problem,” said Ben. “you know the time never changes when were on and adventure in the Shirley Ann. Grandpa Jimmy knows that. You gotta come with, this is all for you Tali.”

“Okay.”

Ben and Tali were last to get aboard. Ben pushed the latch down. The windows fogged over, and the motors started. What awaited them was more than they could ever imagine.

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