Treasure Awaits

You receive a letter in the mail from an out-of-town relative asking you to drop everything and meet him in Boston ASAP. He doesn’t say why, but signs off on the letter (just above his name) with the phrase: “Treasure awaits.”

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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30 thoughts on “Treasure Awaits

  1. jcisking27

    Charlie groaned as he rolled over to shut off the alarm clock. “6:45 is too early”, he thought for the hundredth time that week. The smell of coffee assailed his nostrils as he sat up, sleepily pushing his feet into plush slippers and pulling a navy terry robe over his pajamas. Going into the kitchen, he turned off the automatic coffee pot and filled a mug with the steaming brew. From where he stood, he could see the pile of mail that had been wedged in the door’s mail slot over the weekend, and which he had yet to bother to read.

    Sighing, he wrenched the well-stuck bundle from the door slot and headed for the living room. After carefully setting his mug down, he plunked himself heavily down on the well-worn sofa. He turned on the television and listened to the news anchor drone on as he reached for the stack of envelopes beside him. Pulling one at random, he looked down at it.

    It was an unmarked business-size brown envelope, with no stamp or address. It didn’t even list his address. In large block letters on the front was written: CHARLIE. He withdrew a single, typed sheet.

    It read:

    “Dear Charlie,

    This is your long-lost uncle David. I’m writing to you because you are the only relative I have left. If you want what will be yours when I die, then haste to Boston to see me. I will meet you at the train station in a week’s time.

    TREASURE AWAITS!!!

    Sincerely,

    Uncle David”

    Charlie’s jaw had dropped. He never knew he had an uncle David, but to find out he was about to inherit…well, something, was the last thing Charlie had expected.

    “Who am I to ignore a dying man’s final wishes?” he asked himself with a smile. He wondered what kind of treasure his uncle was referring to. Gold, perhaps? Charlie found the possibility of becoming a rich man very thrilling.

    **********

    A week later, Charlie stepped off the train and at once scanned the station for a man who might be his uncle. There in the back of the room, his face hidden by shadows, stood a man with a sign that read: “CHARLIE.”

    A smile creased Charlie’s face as he headed in the man’s direction. Stepping from the shadows, David smiled grimly back as he motioned to a section of chairs nearby.

    “Please, sit down. I’m not really your uncle, Charlie. Though I am ill.”

    Stunned, Charlie sat as he whispered, “What do you want from me?”

    The man calling himself David was silent for a moment, then turned to beckon to the shadows behind him.

    To Charlie, he said, “If you recall, my note said that treasure awaits you. I am an honest man.”

    A little girl in a blue dress stepped forward, curly hair in pigtails, big brown eyes watching Charlie’s every move. She was sucking her thumb as she took David’s hand.

    “This, Charlie, is Treasure. She is your daughter.”

  2. Icabu

    Eleanor Whitman stared out the train’s window as Boston came into view. Her eyes misted as she longed to walk the beautiful city of her birth. St. Louis was such a backwater town compared to Boston. The train pulled into North Union Station and she immediately felt at home. The carriage her father had sent was across Causeway Street; the porter already had her bags. She gawked like a tourist as the horses trotted down Beacon, across Charles and finally to their family home on Boylston.

    It was easy to consume her days lapping up the city. Guiltily, she had missed it more than her family. She wished with all her heart that her situation would allow her to stay, but she knew better. Family and honor had to take precedence. She came for the city, not the promise of awaiting treasure that her cousin Reginald had baited her with in his letter. Their Great-uncle William’s estate settlement was as good an excuse as any to visit home.

    Reginald Murphy knew when his cousin, Eleanor, arrived in Boston. He’d hoped to see her at the estate settlement, but she did not attend. Stifling a yawn, he couldn’t blame her. The family had assets, not excessive, but enough to drag the proceedings numbingly. He jumped slightly as his name was called and a crumpled box was dropped on the table in front of him. He’d spent considerable time with Great-uncle William before his death and was promised something more valuable than all the money William had. Reginald had no clue what it was, but he’d used this mysterious ‘treasure’ to lure Cousin Eleanor home.

    Dreary rain kept Eleanor in the house on her final day in Boston. The library fireplace kept the chill away as she browsed the impressive collection of books. It was her favorite room in the house and she’d settled in with tea and muffins.

    Engrossed in a book, Eleanor didn’t hear Reginald enter the library. The thump startled her. Surprise, then, with recognition, anger sparked her eyes. She glanced quickly at the old box he’d dropped on the writing desk.

    “What are you doing here?” she demanded.

    “I invited you here, remember?” Reginald smiled.

    Eleanor felt her breath catch with his disarming smile. He was so ruthless with it.

    “Is that your ‘treasure’?” She glanced back at the box.

    “As a matter of fact, it is.” Reginald opened the box and lifted out a hefty tome and placed it carefully on the desk.

    Eleanor remained very still. He had the family Bible. She watched as Reginald opened the Book and flipped through several pages. He read from it.

    “Reginald Brighton Murphy. Born, New York City. Brought into home of Rachel Whitman Murphy at age three, an orphan.” Reginald closed the Book and beamed at Eleanor. “I’m not a blood relative.”

    Eleanor’s heart jumped with long suppressed desires. She ran to Reginald’s open arms. While not completely shameless, loving him would no longer be forbidden – an unbelievable treasure.

  3. rahree

    Well, this is odd.

    It’s a letter from my Uncle Skip. He’s stateside, in Boston…which is a long trip from his adopted Australian home. I wonder if my mom’s going to visit? Nah…she doesn’t so much travel past the grocery store and the pet food store.

    Boston…why Boston? Why next Tuesday? “Treasure awaits?” I think that Uncle Skip’s seen ‘Pirates of the Carribbean’ one time too many…or else maybe he’s got a little Captain in him. I should call Mikey and see if he has a letter too…although if he doesn’t have one that’ll give him a bigger reason to sulk.

    Maybe I should go…work is pretty slow, and I haven’t seen Skip for years…sometime before I got married…2000? Earlier? It’s been years. I can take a train to Boston next Tuesday if he can fly around the globe, I suppose.

    “Treasure awaits…” Well, he’s family. And it’s been too long.

    *****
    I’m sitting in The Haven, a Scottish pub that one of my college roomies introduced me to back in another life. (In fact I think that the last time I was here, I sang myself home, fueled by beer and music and that silent joyful heart- exploding hope that all twenty-somethings carry around in their chests, but only show when they’re alone. Or blitzed.) It’s about 3:00pm on a Tuesday, and while the pub is quiet I’m certainly not the only one day drinking. I’m staring into my smartphone like I’m very important…checking email, ordering widgets for that big presentation in Peoria, whatever it is that businesspeople do when they’re uncomfortably waiting for a long lost family member to walk through the door. I’m trying to remember my Uncle…I know I’ll recognize him…the face shape, light hair and blue eyes that he and my two aunts shared…everyone in that family except my brown haired, hazel-eyed mother, come to think of it. Is that the treasure? I don’t know that I want to tell my mom that’s she’s adopted after all these years…and I wonder if he’s that big of a coward.

    And then I order another Belhaven and chide myself for the drama. Let’s just have a nice reunion…

    He walks in the door. He’s still a strapping (strapping? does anyone use that word to describe strong, tall men anymore?) man, striding through the pub, eyeing all two of the women in the pub before deciding that I’m his blood relation. His hair has been white for as long as I can remember, his eyes are still blue and piercing, and he’s tan. I walk toward him. He calls my name in an Aussie accent, and he wraps me in his big strong arms.

    And I dissolve into ugly, wracking sobs. He’s the first family member who has held me close, in that fatherly way, since my own father died six months ago.

    I wipe my blotchy red face, promise to not ever greet him that way again, flag the bartender to get a round for my uncle, and settle in to hear his story. Unintentional, sure. But stil treasure.

    1. Patrick Michael

      Rahree ~ your two interesting pieces are so very different and fun. I prefer the second posting, but the first has tons of nuance and instant rapport with the reader with the internal conversation. I hope these comments aid you in your writing. I look forward to seeing more!

      Section #1:
      This one is a little short with several great details, but not much expansion. I do like how the tone is very conversational as if the reader and the character are friends chatting over a drink. Lots of foreshadowing with the details and several loops ends or plot holes that would need significant filling, but it gives a breezy and light touch to the crazy Uncle Skip. The pop culture reference “…a little Captain in him” could work well to show the character’s age and basic background, but does risk confusing those not in the know. The sparse text leaves me wanting more; great start would love to see where Skippy takes you!
      Question: You set up some good tension with Mikey. Does it serve your narration to keep him an enigma like Uncle Skip?

      Section#2:
      This piece grounds the story in a setting that drapes the scene with a little more visceral sensations. Scottish pub, beer, music, etc. A few details point to the character being somewhat out of place in either location or age group; “college roomies”, “twenty-somethings” and “strapping?”. All are good details that heighten the uncomfortable confrontation with the Uncle. The description of the Uncle is good, but seems almost seductive (or am I just reading that wrong?).
      The manipulation of the tension is good, angry at the “coward”, calming with another drink then the descent into hugs and tears, All done in a scant eight lines! The breakdown comes as a surprise then they move back to the bar quickly. Great ending point, seems almost as if we’re zooming out on the scene as the two sidle up to the bar.
      Question: How could the tension and subsequent explosion of tears be built to a grand crescendo? If that were not the intent, how would you expand on the turbulent emotional ride the main character undertakes?

      Thanks~

      Patrick’s Blog

  4. Patrick Michael

    In my hands rests a letter in a sealed envelope handed to me by a woman dressed in a worn traveling coat. She said the letter came to her through Denver, where she began her travels. It was amazing that it made the journey; astronomical that it even found its way into my hands.
    The United States Postal Service disbanded not too long ago as digital communication sank personal letter delivery. Privatization of parcel delivery caused a firestorm of competition between major conglomerates and further torpedoed personal communication. The world imploded after crude oil wells were completely tapped. Governments cut off services and security as natural resources ran dry and money had no viable value. It was as if the world regressed a few hundred years and the rules of the Wild West were reinstated. Despite the breakdown of communication and the degradation of resources, humanity thrived.
    It was amazing how quickly people adapted. It was a rebirth of sorts, for me, for the world perhaps as we relearned what drew us all together. Communities grouped together to pool resources and provide basic services. Sure, things were not perfect and bad things still happened to good people, but for the most part neighbors looked out for friends and family. We all grasped for some part, some piece of the human connection that we took for granted to in the digital age.
    Slowly the world began to resemble what it did in the 20th century. Writing letters and long delivery times became commonplace as people began moving about in a fallen world. The letter rested in my palms from the efforts of several travelers who covered considerable miles and brought news of a world outside the ruin around.
    The letter was written on formerly white paper and hand delivered from person to person, traveling across the U.S. until it finally reached me in Portland, OR. The page was wrinkled and battered, but the blue ink stood out from the white backdrop of a bleached paper. The handwriting was rushed but legible and smudged in places. I unfolded the creases and set to reading the words with zeal.
    It was from my grandfather, Ringo, from my mother’s side and he was heading to Boston. He was always full of wanderlust and reckless abandon, but excitement surrounded his every step. He moved south to Georgia shortly before society turned sour. It was almost 10 years since the last time I heard from him.
    Beyond the pleasantries and well wishing he mentioned his urgent departure for the East coast. Under the layers of misleading phrases and rambling, he mentioned over and over the need for me to leave everything and meet him. Scratched in roughly in bold letter, just above his name perched two ominous words: Treasure Awaits!

    Patrick’s Blog

    1. Patrick Michael

      If you have time please read the story and give some feedback. Some ideas to focus on could be as follows:
      Is there enough of the character’s voice involved in the retelling of the letter delivery?

      Does word choice and/or tense gloss over the changes in setting to quickly or not rapidly enough?

      How do you think the story could be expanded and does this provided enough grounding for a character’s integrity?

  5. carla73

    “Oh, God…no.” I subconsciously said out loud.

    “Is something wrong, Susan?” Karen, my neighbor, is over. It was her turn to prepare lunch.

    “Oh…It’s nothing.” I composed myself. “It’s just a letter from a relative I hadn’t heard from in years.” Karen just stares at me. She always seems to stare straight through me as if she is trying to figure out what I am thinking.

    I excused myself and took the letter and my purse into the bathroom. I shut the door.

    In disbelief, I silently re-read the short letter. There is nothing familiar about it. Neither the handwriting nor who the signature belongs to. However, there is one small detail that sends chills up and down my spine. I pull the cell phone out of my purse and dial my husband’s number. He answers on the fifth ring.
    “Hey, Sweetie. What’s for dinn…”

    “Curtis, it’s time,” I cut him off, trying to sound as calm as possible.

    “Time for what, Sweetie?”

    “The letter. It came today.” My eyes fill with tears and my voice begins to tremble.

    “Are you sure?” The tone of his voice becomes serious.

    “The code. It has the code.” I feel nauseous and can hardly speak. “ ‘Treasure awaits.’ ”

    “Do you remember where the key to the gun box is?”

    “I…I think so.”

    “Get the gun. It’s already loaded. Do not let anyone into the house. I’m on my way.” He hung up the phone. I try to stand up but I feel light headed and fall onto my knees. I begin to violently vomit.

    I was never meant to live this lifestyle. Being the wife of an assassin was not my choice. After seven years of marriage Curtis confided in me his darkest secrets. I should have left him. But the truth is I love him. I love with every fiber of my being.

    Wiping my mouth with my shirt, I crawl to the sink and reach inside the cabinet to get the key. It’s not there.

    “Looking for these?” Karen stands over me, dangling the keys with one hand and pointing the gun at me with the other.

    1. Patrick Michael

      Carla ~ Wow, this story was a wild ride! From the humble almost Norman Rockwell-ian beginning to the double agent turn at the end, the character goes through an emotional crucible and discovers Karen’s identity. The story was wholly unexpected and exciting; a little “Desperate Housewives” and a little of “The Tourist” (Sorry if those two programs are cliché, I tried to pick two that were widely known and available).
      In the first section there seemed to be a few mixed tenses, “composed”, “seems” and “stares”, all in the third paragraph. I am horrible with mixing tenses, in fact I probably am right now, but it’s something I notice more as people point it out in my writing. Most of the story is dialogue and with the present tense it drives the action with vigor. That brings me to the next point…
      The alliteration of “violently vomit” works well, but I got stuck on the details of the action. It might not need to be a visceral description, but where does she expel her stomach? Later she crawls to the sink leading me to believe that it was not the sink. Susan wipes her mouth with her shirt, so it doesn’t seem to be a messy ordeal, but that could be my reading.
      The missing keys are an interesting plot twist and create a tipping point for the characters. You focused on the story of Susan with first person narration and the three characters are heading to a climactic confrontation. My question for you is; who will be the main character after this point? Will the story remain with Susan or jump to another character’s perspective from this point forward? You ended with a great cliffhanger that leaves the reader begging for more. It was fun and exciting read!

      Thanks ~

      Patrick’s Blog

  6. Sicire

    I hadn’t seen my cousin Sam since he moved to Sicily sixteen years before. What on earth would have brought him back to Massachusetts? Then?

    It was December, 1996. No one WILLFULLY comes back to Boston from Italy in December…in a snow storm. Sure, I had returned from Germany because the play had folded before we got to Berlin, but I was tired of being on the road, anyway. But Sam? Home again?

    Sure, it hadn’t worked out in Sicily. His mother told mine. Sam left the woman who kept him in Palermo.and moved on to Capri, living with some old man in a Villa, cooking…a once noble family near Naples..a Prince, maybe? So like Sam….but he was now actually a chef in a small trattoria. No one actually knew much. Sicilians keep secrets. Their lives, their loves, their “business.” Sam was always like that, anyway.

    But I knew him. And he knew me. We grew up together. The North End, then the suburbs beyond 128, up Rte. 20…First Papa bought a farm, then Uncle Joe and Aunt Carmela came to work there with little Santino.
    Santino became “Sammy” when he was six or seven…when the kids at school started teasing: “Santino, Santino, with the golden curls; Santino, Santino…you look just like a girl”

    Sammy and I bonded, those summer farm days in Concord, swimming in Walden Pond, picking corn and tomatoes, cooking together with Mamma and Auntie Carmela…we talked for hours, two expats from Boston…never going back to “city life.” We became Hippies in the ’60s, vagabonds. I traveled to England, met Jonah singing in a pub in London, returned to Boston when Becky was born. Sam got “lost” somewhere in Paris…and never returned to the States. Except that one time in 1980. No one knew; no one still knows.

    Except me. I bade him “farewell” several months later when he left the hospital.

    Then…a letter to “drop everything and meet him in Boston”….Winter, 1996…”Treasure awaits”

    Signed: “Tressore.” That was so like Santino…so like her.

    1. Patrick Michael

      Sicire ~ This is an subtle yet effective way to bring about a character’s interesting “transformation”. You provide foreshadowing and cover the characters’ history in only a few lines.

      You foreshadow the “change” in tone with a playground taunt “…you look just like a girl” and end the piece with the sly resolution “so like her”. In between these lines the gender of the character is fairly well rooted in the “he’s” and “him’s”, but “…when he left the hospital”, is telling of the narrator’s viewpoint. Since “you” know the situation with Sam/Santino, would “you” still refer to Sam/Santino as he in the hospital line? Lastly… should we be familiar with “Jonah” and “Becky”?

      Good short story. This would be an interesting start or conclusion to a larger tale.

      Thanks~

      Patrick’s Blog

  7. sand9_9

    Wow, I haven’t heard from Vincent in a while now. He really has got a lot for nerve after the last fiasco. He wanted to go across country in search of treasure but this time it was leaving Memphis to go to San Diego to become insurance salesmen making two thousand a week and splitting expenses down the middle. We almost starved to death, sleeping in my ’84 chevy chevett and taking fire and causality insurance class during the day… nightmare. No a/c which meant that once we showered at the truck stop and sweat like runaway slaves at night, we were funky by morning before class. Not this time, I’m not falling for it. When is he going to learn that the only way he’s getting to the land of milk and honey is if his dues are paid. Sitting, coffee in hand, brings all the bad memories of me asking my parents to send us money so we could eat. Not to mention the blowout we got while trying to outrun some crazed boyfriend of a girl in class that he was helping run errands for. She never had gas money and always needed help but I was the only one with a car. One night Vincent begged me to pick her up and that crazy boyfriend chased us in my raggedy car through the streets of downtown San Diego screaming we were both dead. We only had a quarter of a tank of gas before the chase started. I’ve never been so petrified in all my life. We ran out of gas in the middle of the chase which I couldn’t understand why, the gauge said we still had half a quarter left. Well, I thought, this is it and all of this trouble over a girl that Vincent had to have but didn’t sleep with. In my opinion that’s a friend, you don’t die for a friend. As Carlos, the crazed boyfriend got out the car heading to us I couldn’t help but call Vincent a jerk! Then I remembered, in all the confusion I must to have hit the horn during the chase because when I hit it again it started and we drove off. We always called it anti theft but truthfully the car was just that raggedy. Guess it wasn’t really a chase either, neither one of us got over 35mph. Carlos got back in his car and called it quits. Good thing too because my car over heated and I could hear air coming from the tires. It didn’t really matter which one, all of them were slick and had wire popping out the side and bottom. As we sat there, the reality set in about being near death and all, the emotional flood gates opened because I could not stop crying. The saddest display of manhood ever. Clearing my throat, I find a pen and scratch through the address writing return to sender on it.

  8. Ilexia

    Treasure awaits. It was code. Becca reread the letter.
    “How ar yu. I am good. I love yu. Pleez come soon. Treasure awaits. Uncle Tony.”
    Becca smiled to herself—Uncle Tony had only learned to spell a few words. He loved the idea of treasure. He didn’t understand the concept of metaphors, but to Becca’s mother, “treasure” meant family. She had taught her brother to spell it.
    Treasure awaits. It was code—code for something terrible. Tony probably wasn’t able to say exactly what was wrong and he certainly couldn’t put it into words on paper. Sometime after she had taught Tony to spell treasure, Becca’s mother also taught him to use the phrase if something terrible had happened, like abuse from the orderlies or nurses at the institution. She hadn’t wanted to put him there, but she was getting older and Becca had a career. Other family members lived too far away—Becca was in Philadelphia—or had passed away. Tony’s treasure was slowly disappearing.
    Becca held the sloppy, hand-written letter and let the memories come back to her. She knew she had to go, at least to check on him. She was in a more stable position in life and would be more able to take care of her uncle who had cerebral palsy and had been in and out of institutions all his life. She also had the money to hire a caretaker.
    “Yes,” she thought, “treasure awaits.”

  9. kospina

    I was twelve when my brother, Victorino left to go north to work. Our father had come home for his first in five years. When he left he took fifteen year old Victornio back with him to the tomato fields of California. They left early, before dawn, so there would be no awkward goodbyes. When I woke up and realized they were gone, I wanted to cry. But at 12, I was too big for tears. Instead, I took my father’s rifle and hiked up into the mountains and spent my frustrations on the rabbits and birds.

    If Victorino had not gone north, I knew I would have had to leave school to work, too, but knowing didn’t make me feel any better about being left behind. As it was, even with both sending money home, it was never enough. My mother stayed up nights embroidering table clothes to sell at market for extra money. My task was to tend the goats, and sell their meat and the cheese my mother and sisters made from the milk.

    Every week when I accompanied my mother to the caseta, so she could receive her weekly phone call and money transfer from my father, my father would tell me to work very hard in school. I always said yes, I would do it, but all I could think about was going north, too. Sometimes, when my father and brother didn’t have much work, they couldn’t afford to send money home. During those awful times we always told them we were fine, of course, but there were many days when we couldn’t eat complete meals. Instead, we would eat just tortillas with nopales and salsa to hold ourselves over, but it tore my heart to see my littlest sister, crying because she was hungry.

    I saw the fancy houses, build of concrete, some with more than one story, that some families had erected. They had more relatives working in the north, so they could afford it. I looked at our adobe two room house, with the bamboo lean-to for the cooking fire, and began to think ill of it. Someday, when I was grown, I dreamed I would go north, too, like Victorino and my father, and I would give my mother a house like our neighbors had.

    Then, a week before my fifteenth birthday, when I accompanied my mother to the caseta there was a telegram for me from Victorino. There was too much competition for work in California, so he and my father had traveled to another place, even further away. “Come to Boston” the telegram read. “Riches await, carnal. I’ll wire you the money for the coyote next week.”

    I put the telegram in my pocket and looked at my mother, in the little phone booth, talking to my father. It would hurt her when I left, but I knew I would go. Early, before dawn, so there would be no painful goodbyes.

  10. BDCatbird

    I got a postcard from Uncle Frank today asking me to drop everything and meet him in Boston ASAP. He didn’t say why, but the only other words on the back (just above his name) was the phrase: “Treasure awaits.”

    I just sighed; I knew what that meant. When Uncle Frank talked about “treasure” it was always about food. He’d usually do this when he found some out of the way little place serving stuff he hadn’t had since he’d been in Tokyo, or Berlin, or the back alleys of Budapest-Caracas-Lima — somewhere on his many travels. I knew he’d gone Boston to visit my cousin Haley; she’d called me to dish about the latest shape of his mustache and the state of his sweaters, too ratty by half for her. He never noticed the holes or stains, preferring to look outward than at himself. There were too many tastes to conquer to care about tasteful menswear. As long as his clothing still covered him, he was oblivious and good to go. He didn’t mind the thrift shop wardrobe that mortified his awkward daughter because it spared him the money to follow his passion for food.

    Not that Uncle Frank was interested in fine dining. He didn’t have much use for meals that required the use of more than one piece of flatware. Or any utensils at all. His specialty was take-aways and street food, the humble hand-wrapped, hotdogs, hot rolls, rolled sandwiches, smoked meats of pushcarts and portable stoves. He loved nothing better than finding a new two-wheeled cart with an umbrella and a sign and the faint whiff of steam from below the heating table.

    “MMMmmmm,” he’d say. “What’ve you got there, buddy? Smells good!” Uncle Frank could charm even the toughest of them; they’d invariably end up giving him a sample. He’d throw every ounce of his being into extracting the last nuance out of the taste, smell, texture, even the feel of the wrapper. His complete dedication to their product was irresistible. They’d give him more and he’d be off to the races. By the time he was done, he’d be well fed and the owner would be a friend for life.

    Knowing that Haley had no patience for “sloppy-things-on-buns” as she put it, he would call me when he found a really good one. He figured my job as a food writer for my local newspaper entitled me to know about food wherever and whenever it happened. “Chelsea, this one’s gonna be big!” he’d tell me. The fact that my tiny newsroom had no travel budget for any reporter, let alone the weekly recipe girl, meant nothing to him. Food was too important to wait. That he sent a postcard meant one of two things – he’d lost his cell phone again, or he was so busy he didn’t want to take the time to talk.

    “Jayse,” I called into the other room, “Uncle Frank’s found something in Boston. Wanna go?”

  11. Lenny

    Uncle Floyd has always been a little… eccentric, but he was always a blast at a family gathering. One year he wanted to demonstrate what he had seen on an episode of Mr. Bean, so Floyd took the turkey my mother had prepared and ran around with it over his head. We got Chinese that night. As I read the letter for the fourth time, and calling it a letter was being generous. It was more like a sentence scrawled onto a roughly torn piece of notebook paper that smelled vaguely of cheese. The letter looked like this:

    Stop what you’re doing, get up here to Boston NOW!
    Treasure Awaits,
    Floyd

    E-mail would have been easier, would have saved Floyd on postage, and saved me from catching whiffs of nasty old cheese. I stared at the words scrawled sloppily on the letter. I had a decision to make. Let Uncle Floyd go about his mad business alone, or go after him with the very non-specific direction of Boston. Did Uncle Floyd realize that Boston was a city, and kind of a big place? Still staring at the letter I reached into my pocket and took out my phone and called out of work for a “family emergency.”

    Even if Floyd was nuts, that doesn’t mean he didn’t need help with something. He was family, and I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for the guy. I packed an overnight bag and got in my car. Just a six hour drive to Boston, six hours until finding that treasure which eagerly awaits me.

  12. Rachel

    Gerald Mason looked over the envelope as he walked into his apartment. Leaving it with the rest of the mail on the entryway table, he walked toward the kitchen where culinary smells were wafting in the air. He should have taken the key from her he thought as he loosened his tie. It had been a long day and he just wanted to unwind

    “I am making the most delicious meal sugar!” Alyssa said with a smile as she handed him a glass of wine.

    “I thought we were going to slow down for awhile.” He grumbled.

    “This is slow silly, I just can’t stop cold turkey! Alyssa said in her sweetest southern accent. “Come sit darlin’.”

    Gerald stared at the moonlight from his window while Alyssa breathed softly next to him. Why did he always cave into her, she definitely was a strong personality. He then thought of the letter from his long lost cousin. Getting out of bed, he went to the table to read it.

    “Treasure awaits??” He questioned aloud. “Boston, Onyx Hotel, ASAP??” Brett had also written a phone number below his name to confirm the trip.

    “Guess I’m going to Boston” he said after closing his cell and walked back to his room.

    Gerald hailed a cab from Logan airport to meet Brett at the Onyx Hotel Lounge as they had discussed. He paid the cabbie and went inside to the bar to wait.

    “Hey cuz! Long time no see huh?” Brett patted his back as he took the stool next to him.

    “What’s this about Brett? It’s very cloak and dagger and what is treasure awaits?”

    “Your familiar with the Salem Witch trials in 1692?” Brett said in a low voice.

    “I guess so. Why?”

    “Well, to get right to it, we are related to the first witch they hung.” Brett ordered a scotch. “Bridget Bishop.”

    “Brett, what are you talking about? The Salem witch trials victims were railroaded and executed. There was no truth to it, just like the McCarthy hearings.”

    “In some cases, but not in ours.” Brett looked around then leaned in. “Right before Bridget hung, she cast a spell of health and wellness for her future family until the last of the bloodline exists then the treasured spell is broken for all family members. You cousin are the last of the bloodline. Sarah Bishop Mason was Bridget’s daughter and she is a pure branch of your family tree. I need to get you to Salem to invoke the spell before the last of the Oliver bloodline tries to kill you to break the spell forever. Come, we have to hurry because it’s already begun.

    “Kill me? Who? Begun?” Gerald said astounded. “This is ridiculous! I am out of here Brett, this was a mistake.”

    “You’re going to Salem with me or we lose everything, especially you.” Brett waited until Gerald finally stood up. “Treasure awaits cuz!”

    They headed for the lobby when Gerald stopped dead in his tracks.

    “Alyssa?”

  13. Clayton

    As I tell you this story you may think me mad, but I’m not. I was mad but not anymore.
    My story begins with receiving a letter from my brother. We lived on opposite sides of the country, and we hadn’t talked in months. So it came as a surprise to me. The letter contained a plane ticket. It told me to use the plane ticket to meet him in Boston and to bring my hunting gear. The only other information in the letter was the phrase “Treasure awaits” written above his signature. I had just started my holiday so I went. I had never been to Boston. When I arrived he met me in the terminal.
    “Not here, too public,” he said when I asked him to explain his letter. He led me to his hotel room to explain. Once there he told me about how while he was reading he located an amulet worth ten-million dollars. It was located in a cave in White Mountain National Forest, north of Boston. Others had gone into the cave to obtain it but were never seen again, he seemed to believe a creature was living in the cave. Since we were both hunters we could kill it and get the amulet.
    I thought he was just following an old fairy tale, but agreed to go as I had always wanted to visit that forest. We set out early the next morning, my brother brought his rifle with a flashlight attachment and I brought my compound bow. I brought my sketchpad instead of a camera as I always do. It took a couple of hours to reach the forest from the city. Then an hour long hike to reach the cave.
    As we approached the strangely located cave, a strange feeling came over me, a fear, almost paranoia. Before I could mention it to my brother he had delved into the cave. I prepared my bow and followed. The light from his rifle was all that illuminated the cave. The sunlight seeming to stop dead at the mouth. The more we walked the more the fear began to fill my mind. It felt as though hundreds of eyes were upon me, every shadow seemed to move, and the walls seemed to whisper. The same feeling seemed to have come over my brother.
    It wasn’t long until we reached a dead end of the cave. We entered a large chamber with two great braziers providing light. A pedestal stood between the two flames with a jeweled amulet resting on top. Human skeletons littered the floor around us.
    What happened next is a blur. With in what seemed to be an instant, my brother lay dead before me, an arrow in his back and the amulet’s chain clenched in his fist. I knew then why none had retrieved the amulet. It drove all who came near mad. They would kill each other then the last one standing would kill themselves, as I now wished to do. So I took a large stone and using all my willpower I crushed the amulet instead of my skull.
    The amulet shattered releasing a burning light. When the light faded I found myself lying on the forest floor. My body severely burned. I could barely move, and dead seemed to approach. So on sketchpad I write this story. Though you may think it the raving of a mad man and perhaps it is. Either way it does not matter, for if you are reading this I am dead.

  14. realhousewifebusiness

    Paul knows I have a special place in my heart for Boston. What could this letter be about? He has never been one go looking for any monetary gain. Although, our mission to find out about the immigration backlash that Grandpa encountered after the Armenian Genocide could be a part of this treasure quest.

    Why Boston? Ellis Island is where it all began and the paper trail goes cold. I need to go and discover what he thinks happened to those birth records. Recently, we found a private bank in Boston that was “assisting” immigrants in getting them started in this new country. Grandpa always talked about how he put all this money into a private fund and was never able to recover it.

    Our family thought it was just the effects of the ALS setting in and he would slip in and out of reality. I feel terrible for dismissing his claims. Maybe Paul found the records and needs some clarification and a witness to the cover up?

    Every July 4th, we would celebrate Grandpa’s birthday because he never really knew his birthdate. After winding up in an orphanage when his parents were murdered by the Turks, Grandpa survived on the streets. Some of his half-brothers left for America and promised to return for him when they could. He was so displaced and scared that he developed a skill for street smarts and money.

    After finally arriving to Ellis Island, he vowed to make a life here that would make his parents proud. Always carrying cash, he was generous and savvy with his earnings. Our whole life we heard stories about how he almost died in a river after being tossed by some street thugs. The other story was about how he blew off two fingers on his left hand. Wow, remembering Grandpa makes me really miss him. A person that started with such a terrible beginning left this world with a remarkable legacy.

    I have to get to Boston. The answer to my growing curiosity lies in brickwork of that bank.

    “Hello”

    “Michelle, it’s me Paul.”

    “I found the money and whole lot more regarding the Armenian cover up!”

    “I’m on my way.”

  15. Grover Cleveland

    Peter cupped the receiver. “He says it’s about gold.”

    “What?”

    “And also possibly other precious metals and gemstones.”

    “Give me the phone. Charlie, this is Trudy.“

    “He prefers to be called Wilhelm.” Her eyes were closed now, her fingers pinched on the bridge of her nose.

    “Yes, I know, but I’m talking to you now. You have to stop calling and writing these letters. Peter’s been under a lot of stress lately.”

    “He had a great affection for the former German emperor,” said Peter. She stared at him now, and shook her head once, still listening.

    “Yes, Charlie, I do doubt that a German conquest of Mexico is possible.” He wished he could hear the other end of the conversation. He remembered from his graduate research the old stories of the fall of Emperor Maximilian. Uncle Wilhelm might be on to something.

    “No, listen to the nurse, Charlie. If she says it’s time for Judge Judy and your meds, then it probably is.” What if he’d discovered the location of the royal treasury that the French had supposedly hidden in the Sierra Madres, just north of Chihuahua?

    “Goodbye, Charlie. Go with her. Goodbye.” They could raise an army! All Mexico would throw rose petals at their feet!

    “Peter.” She sat down at the kitchen table, her hands folded in front of her. “You know everything he says is crazy, don’t you?”

    “Of course. Of course I do. But he does know a thing or two about Mexico.”

    “Charlie hasn’t left Boston in the past 36 years, Peter. I think you need to take a break from work. I think the stress is getting to you. And things have been nutty lately. You’ve been acting really weird.”

    Peter stared down at his shoelaces. He noticed that one was untied.

    “I let it go when you punished Sally for watching soap operas on TV because you said the dog told you.” Skeeter chewed on a rawhide bone near the pantry. “Especially when she admitted to it. But I had to go get you from the police station the other night. The police station. They said they found you naked in a field with nothing but a box of matches?”

    “My mother always told me not to play with fire.”

    “Please don’t start again.”

    Peter winced.

    “And after that, you crashed the university commencement and interrupted Leonard Nimoy’s speech.”

    “But I’d written a great keynote. A little short, but…”

    “Peter, do you know how long I had to talk to the dean so they wouldn’t call the police?” She was pleading now. He considered reaching down to tie his shoe, but thought better of it. She got up and went to the cupboard. “Sweetie, you have to take these. Twice a day.” He looked at the green-and-white pill and glass now in front of him, the water still rippling. She touched his cheek. “Peter, I love you. Please take this.”

    “Better do what she says,” said Skeeter.

    Peter drank it down.

  16. pmcnulty

    I have done the drive from Manhattan to Massachusetts probably, a billion times. Okay, so, maybe not a billion, but enough so that I can complete it without much focus.
    Being Bostonian has given me a great sense of self, nonetheless, I hate returning to the city of my birth. Old memories seem to resurface with each visit. All I could think was, “What the hell is up with my cousin? I mean, REALLY? WTF?”
    Most of my cousins live with or next door to one another. I am the pariah, the one who thought she “was too good for ‘em”. No, I didn’t think that, but that is my label and I learned to accept and even embrace it.
    My cousin, Patrick is my mom’s brother’s kid. My mother died when I was 5 and I was happy to get a letter from him. “Treasure awaits”, is this a joke? Patrick was convincing in his pleas to get me to town, so I went .In spite of “that” feeling coming over me…again, dread, fear, failure and heartbreak tied up with a nice ribbon of nostalgia and happiness.
    The colorful flashback of my father holding a gun to one side of his head, pulling the trigger, releasing a smattering of blood and flesh from the opposite side played on in my head. Involved with Boston’s infamous Irish Mob he thought that THIS was his best route “out” and that he would “show those asshole FBI shitheads”.
    I was 14, he was my only parent, and it was a stupid and selfish of him to do. I am able to recall with clarity the moment that the doctor informed me he was disconnecting the life support, that chill, that same punched in the gut, wave washed over me. I refused to go to the funeral; I was pissed off at him, and pretty much everyone. I spent 3 days crying, crying until I had no more tears, convinced it was a cruel joke that he was going to come home and just walk through the door, because there was NO WAY he would leave me.
    Turning off onto the Dorchester exit I pulled up in front of the row of 3 family houses. My cousins pretty much occupied the whole block. I took a deep breath as I walked onto the sidewalk, finding my voice as well as my accent as I ascended the stairs, turning to find some kids sitting on my car, “HEY! Get offa m’cah!”.
    Patrick opened the door, and after exchanging awkward hugs I followed him into the kitchen. An old man, maybe 90 years old looked up at me from the table. The patch on one eye did not diminish power and intensity of the steel blue eye fixated at me. He stared at me, no, and he stared through me and right into my soul.
    I realized who stood before me. Emotion like I have not felt in decades swept over me as we embraced. Definitely worth the drive.

  17. onaway

    “Treasure awaits” This lured me out for a visit one summer. My mother and her brother had always been close but they had stopped talking over a year ago when he got sick. Just recently they had begun talking again, so I figured he was near death’s door. People forgive a lot when death is in the room. Now three days later I was sitting on his patio drinking lemonade.
    “Do you like lemonade, Jimmy?”
    “Yeah, I guess so.”
    Ma had sent me out here to befriend him and get him to leave me some money in his will. She had no interest in getting a full time job. There had been alot of long, late night whispered phone calls recently. Rumor was he’d be in the ground soon. Guess I was chosen to represent the family as the kid uncle Roy never had. Boston was just a few hours by train, so I packed a backpack. Ma hugged me unusually tight and long, as if she was hugging her brother through me, for the last time.
    To me, my uncle had always been a jerk. I never liked him. He was a smooth talker; got rich backstabbing people in business. I was glad I had this chance to screw him into leaving me some money in his will. I thought about the new corvette I would be driving to school this time next fall.
    In Boston I caught a cab to the countryside where my uncle lived with his wife and no kids. I started feeling bad; I wondered if anyone really knows anything about human nature, how my uncle could have such faith in me when I thought he was a jerk. Maybe I could fess up and we could talk about it.
    The woods ended abruptly. There was Uncle Roy’s McMansion on top of a hill where Quakers once picnicked. What an asshole. I was surprised to see an addition being built around back. The grounds were immaculate. I had expected to see a run down house where the future had been abandoned by a dying man. But this was not the case. His small, pretty wife was so happy to see me she excused herself to wipe away the tears. Uncle Roy and I sat and talked outside.
    “You know, I was on the waitlist at Johns Hopkins for months.” He said.
    “Sometimes money can’t save you.” I said brashly, but he smiled and brushed it off.
    “Sometimes it takes family.” He grinned.
    “Sure.” Die already, I thought.
    “Sometimes family and money.” This comment alluded to my visit, no doubt, and I twitched.
    I smiled at the floor stupidly and sipped the lemonade. “Huh”?
    Your mother and I had a long talk, and we struck a deal. Have some more lemonade.
    “What?” I managed.
    “You can rest assured she won’t have to work another day in her life.”
    I wanted to look him in the eyes but mine were too heavy and black.

  18. geraldrkuhn

    You receive a letter in the mail from an out-of-town relative asking you to drop everything and meet him in Boston ASAP. He doesn’t say why, but signs off on the letter (just above his name) with the phrase: “Treasure awaits.”

    “Gold,” Uncle Wilhelm said.
    “Gold?” I repeated for further clarification.
    “Gold,” he said once again with a nod.
    I opened my mouth to speak, but decided simply to concede the point. “And this is the treasure you’re after?”
    He took off his Socks cap and scratched his balding head. I was always more of a Yankee’s man myself.
    “You’re Aunt had hidden it somewhere. Some gold that had been in the family line for centuries,” he set the hat down on the table while he spoke.
    “Pops never mentioned anything to me about it.”
    “Seems it was something only told to the women of the family and since you and I are currently the end of the line bucko, guess she had to share it with someone.”
    “What do you need me for then?” I took a sip of the coffee I had ordered from the cafe.
    “I don’t need you, you’re in on this two. I say we dig up this gold and split it fifty-fifty.”
    I blinked, “that’s surprisingly generous of you.”
    “Try not to sound so surprised kid.” He laughed and gave me a warm smile. Then reached out and put a hand upon my shoulder. “Family’s got to stick together right?”
    We had to take a solid hour drive out of Boston to get to the location Uncle Wilhelm had on his map. I took a nap, it had already been a six hour drive for me to the city anyway. I woke up when he pulled the car to a slow crunching stop on a gravel road. The sun was just beginning to set, it was low enough to angle a beam of light into the windshield and blind me as I awoke.
    “Are we there?” I asked in a daze, blinking and trying to get a look around.
    “Yep, get out.” Uncle Wilhelm gruffed. And tossed a small shovel into my lap.
    With a grunt, I pushed open the door and stepped out into the field. Then we walked. We walked quite a distance. Maybe a mile. Maybe two. I don’t know, it’s not like I’ve ever walked either distance so I wouldn’t be able to tell the two apart. The sun had completely set by the time Uncle Wilhelm told me to start digging. He held a flashlight so I could work. All in all, it felt pretty good to be working with Uncle Wilhelm again.
    I got down pretty deep. A nice long hole, about six feet long. Tall enough for me to lay down in and a few feet deep when I heard sound of a gun’s hammer being pulled. Uncle Wilhelm had drawn a pistol. And was aiming it at me.
    “She figured it out, Sammy. She knew you ratted them all out,” he said to me.
    “Aunt Sarah was always the smart one,” I shrugged. “But I’m guessing Pops sent the order down.”
    “You got that right.”
    “Oh, well,” I took a deep breath, the air was still warm and pleasant. Nice to be out of the city. “It was nice working with you again Uncle.”
    “You too, bucko.”

  19. Cesar Agudelo

    Boston. My dad had been there during the ’88 Olympics, the only reason why we knew where Calgary was before we moved. I knew where that was, somewhat. I couldn’t point it out exactly on a map, but I knew the general area. I wouldn’t point at Florida and be convinced it was there.

    Uncle Gabriel. We heard of him from mom. “Gabriel will come back to eat you, if you don’t finish that soup, young man!” He was our family’s boogeyman and the only reason I ate tomato soup as a kid..

    Treasure awaits. It was written in bold, triple underlined letters over the letter signed by my legendary Uncle Gabriel, and the only reason why we considered this letter seriously.

    When it arrived I opened it thinking my brother Felipe was playing a prank on me. I would have continued to think that had Felipe not stormed into my house yelling, “very funny Kiko, a letter from Uncle Gabriel, very funny.” He paused as he saw me, an identical letter in my hand and my mouth stupidly agape. I wasn’t the prankster or the good liar.

    We sat around the table for some time thinking what our next step was. Calling mom seemed like the obvious option, but we dismissed it once we both heard her voice in our heads, “Ay Dios mio, how can you be so stupid. Uncle Gabriel is probably strapped for money. The estupido wants to scam you.” Mom always exaggerates and there have been many adventures we haven’t gone on based on her over the top fears. Uncle Gabriel was probably just that: the rebel in the family who pissed all our uptight relatives and became the story to scare all of us youngsters into obedience. We would go, but take precautions.

    We both went, but stayed in different hotels. I kept all the cash and credit cards. If it was money Uncle Gabriel wanted, he couldn’t get it from Felipe.

    Felipe would tell Uncle I was on my way; that work delayed me. If it was something good, Felipe would call me and I would pretend to have just arrived. If it was bad, he would go to my hotel room and we’d leave.

    Now, eulogy in hand, I hope to ease mom’s pain. It angers me the media seized on the feeble drug connection, and that the family jumped on the connection to Uncle Gabriel. “Felipe was just like him, reckless,” they said. I know mom wonders if she made a mistake. And I, I wonder if there is something to mom’s overly fearful view of the world.

  20. egg

    Dear Ted,

    I wish you’d stop these shenanigans and get on with your day job. You really are quite a good accountant judging by the outstanding tax return you did for me last year, so why do you insist on pursuing this insane passion for treasure hunting?

    I suppose that daft, old coot Benny is still corrupting you, is he? Why on earth you are still friends with that no-good s-of-a-b is beyond me. He is nothing but trouble, in my opinion, and I hear that I am not the only one who thinks so?

    Mary says that you’ve been neglecting the children somewhat and that she wishes you’d spend more time at home and less time on that decrepit, old boat of yours chasing non-existent riches. Yes, yes, okay, that decrepit, old ‘ship’ then (I know how sensitive you are regarding these matters). What’s it called again? Something ridiculously English and pompous from what I recall. Perhaps you could take Mary and the children on one of your sailing trips; I’m sure they’d love to see the various islands that you’ve so often told me about in your postcards. It would be a great opportunity for some family bonding, don’t you think?

    From your latest letter, I can only assume that you’re in the Boston area on another absurd adventure. What treasure beckons you there, I can’t even begin to imagine. I also assume that since you’re back in the U.S. you must have resolved that small, legal problem? That fellow they call ‘Spotty’ really has it in for you from what I hear. I read in the newspaper that he was a military big-shot before becoming a government official, so you’d better watch yourself Ted. Seriously, I think the man might be trouble for you.

    In case you haven’t guessed by now, I will not be meeting you in Boston. Unlike you, I am committed to my responsibilities and wouldn’t dream of running off on a wild goose-chase, especially as I am rather busy at work just now. (My boss is on maternity leave and I am acting in her position – I expect it will lead to a promotion within the next twelve months).

    Perhaps this letter will remind you of your own responsibilities and you will reconsider whatever silly escapade you are contemplating in Boston. Think about it Ted, for the children’s sake…….

    Regards,

    Brian

    P.S. Please also think about shaving off that ridiculous black beard of yours, will you? People are starting to define you by it…….

  21. islandqueen

    LINETTE: (she mindlessly cleans the table in her kitchen over and over as she thinks out loud. Occasionally, she picks up the letter, only to put it down again)

    This fool must think I am just sitting here, waiting for manna from heaven. What am I supposed to say to Mr. Charles? “Sorry sir, but I need a few days off to run on over to Boston and pick me up some buried treasure! Can ya hold my shift til I get back?” Hmmpph. I might be poor, but I ain’t stupid. That boy just likes to flaunt himself all over the damned place trying to make good people upset, with his fantasy-type livin’. Every year he’s in a new town, a new city, hooked up with some pretty girl, or on the road with some shiftless wannabees. Always, he’s sendin’ me them glamorous post cards, showin’ off his mixed-up wandering. I think he does it on purpose, all this fanciful livin’, all this dreamin’. Now he wants me to lose my mind too and start dreamin’ ’bout money in Boston! Boston? Boston. Have mercy. (she sits, holding the letter)
    It sure would be good if he actually was in Boston. Supposin’ he found some money? People can find money. Why, people find money all the time. I found almost five dollars in that there jacket just on Monday! It’d sure be good to catch a break from all of this… (she pauses, as if to consider the possibility)
    Damn fool boy! Tryin’ to make me lose my mind.

  22. brigdsouza

    “You want to go where?” My husband was distracted as he pulled a pair of tube socks out of the washer. With a flick of the wrist they were thrown into the duct-taped dryer.
    “Boston,” I said. I was sitting opposite him on the workbench he never used, leaning on a large packing box. In it were the tools I gave him last Christmas after he promised to fix up the guest room.
    “Why Boston?”
    “I told you. My cousin Joey wrote me. Asked me to come up. It was a weird, cryptic letter, but I haven’t seen him since his mom died last year and I’d like to catch up with him.”
    “Oka-y.” He bent down to lift out his shirts, which he always let air dry before ironing them methodically. “What else did he say?”
    “Nothing. Was pretty brief. Just that he was going to be making a trip up to Boston and that I should join him.” What Paul didn’t need to know was that Joey and I had taken spur of the moment trips before; it was from a past life, one that I wanted to protect.
    “A real ‘fun trip’? What does that mean? What are you guys going to do?”
    I sighed and crossed my arms, looking at the floor.
    He stood up again, this time holding nothing. His cool blue eyes fixed on me.
    “I’m just wondering why you’re entertaining the idea of taking a six hour train ride – I assume you’d train it – all the way up to Boston. I thought you hated Boston, to begin with. Secondly, I’ve never met Joe and-“
    “Joey,” I interrupted.
    “Sorry – Joey. I’ve never met Joey, so how am I supposed to react, Jen? I mean, c’mon. What the hell? It’s not like you to make a last minute trip up to a city you don’t like just because you get some email from a long lost relative.”
    “It wasn’t an email. He wrote to me. And he’s not a long lost relative. We grew up together and he’s been having a rough time.”
    “You mean he sent you an actual letter? Like, in the mail? He doesn’t have email?”
    “I don’t know if he has email or not,” I lied. “Look – it’s not the point. The point is that he took the time to wrote and I want to go.” I paused, feeling the anger pulse into my temples. “And I need a break from this house.” The words escaped before I could take them back in. I saw Paul freeze, his back arched tightly over the washer door.
    He stood up slowly.
    “A break? So this isn’t about Joey at all, is it?” he said, his eyes cooler than before.
    I lowered myself from the workbench, my stomach in knots and a lump in my throat. Looking up at him, I felt the familiar courage rise up, and in a split second I grabbed its reigns. I decided to tell him everything.

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