“Look,” I told him while we were taking a break from our books last night, "I don’t have time to go hunting for some mythical buried treasure. I want to get into veterinary school, remember?”
“But it’s not mythical. I’ve been talking to some people and—
“Oh, come on, Patrick. You’re smart. Why would you believe that it’s even still there, if it ever existed at all?”
“No one’s ever said they found it.”
“And why would they? If I found a big stash of gold, the first thing I’d do is leave fast and not tell anyone.”
He smiled like he knew a secret. “No you wouldn’t. You're not selfish. You’d invest it in the phone company and then set up a charity or something.”
“Don’t be ridiculous.” I reached for my book, hoping the sudden heat in my face wasn’t visible. “I’d go far away and live a life of luxury, with electric lights and my very own motor scooter.”
He said nothing more about the gold, but when he brought me my new library books today, he had a smug look about him that spelled trouble. “Some of us went over to the old Granger place after school,” he said.
I opened a biology book. “That’s nice.”
“Want to hear what I found?”
I pretended to be very interested in what cells look like. “I guess you’ll tell me whether I want to or not.”
I looked up. “People drop rings all the time,” I said cautiously.
He waved a hand. “Not that kind of ring. A ring in the ground. Like a trap door.”
“Oh.” Back to the cells again. “Likely just the basement. No one would hide gold there. It’s the first place someone would look.”
He sidled up closer. He smelled of dirt and grass—unusual for a brainy kid who usually smelled of ink and musty books. “It wasn’t anywhere near the old foundation. It was in a field.” He waited until I looked up again. “It was under where part of a wall used to be. Not a house wall, a fence wall.”
I had to admit he had me curious now. “So what did you do?”
“Nothing. I covered it back up with rocks and weeds like it had been before, and pretended to keep looking in the grass, like the other kids were doing.”
“So can we go check it out? I can sneak out again, like I did when we went to the scrap yard. If we do it on Saturday night, my folks will be drunk, anyway, and won’t even notice I’m gone. We’ll be back before morning, and—
I slammed the book shut. “No, Patrick. This all just too silly. No.”
“Fine. Forget it, then.”
But he didn’t forget it, and neither did I. He stayed for supper and stared across the table at me the whole time. And even though he helped me with my math afterwards, the issue hung so heavy between us it might as well have been a banner strung across the room. He would help me with a word problem or a formula, watch me do a few problems, then turn back to his own books, sometimes scribbling things on a piece of paper.
When it was time for him to go home, he dropped a folded scrap of paper in my open book. “See you Saturday.”
I waited until I got back to my room at the barn to take a look. It was a map of where to meet him, along with times and suggestions of things to bring.
A treasure hunt. Does he not realize I’m not a little kid? I’m almost twenty years old!
Patrick has obviously read too many fairy tales.