So sorry about my low profile of late. I was doing some non-court-ordered public service at a nursing home; thrilling the elderly with my extraordinary renditions of the old time classics. Having been gifted with one of the unique crooning voices of the 20th century, I’m occasionally overcome with the need to share with an adoring, if captive, public. And some nights, it’s just better than watching reruns of “Cops”. Only just so many times you can watch Las Vegas’ finest arresting midgets. Or undercover cops dress up as Coco the Clown for prostitution stings.
So afterwards, I fell to talking to an elderly gentleman who had a thick head of hair and an unusual air of dignified sadness about him. He told me he was estranged from his family, and I listened a bit in polite boredom to the stale domestic indignities suffered decades ago. Suddenly my ears perked up as he started talking about his greatest regret; not finding the fortune buried at the family farm. This farm was located between Chattanooga and Atlanta, and played host to Sherman’s Army as it made its way across Northern Georgia towards Atlanta and then finally on towards Savannah. The family had ties to old money in Atlanta, and was holding onto substantial sums for the extended clan. Mostly gold and small gems, as they were too wise to invest heavily in Confederate paper. The quick-witted patriarch of the family buried the family fortune securely, and promptly died of a heart attack upon his return from the exertions of the night. He had done a workmanlike job; no recently disturbed soil was found after the standard mourning period. And so began a search passed down from father to son through the intervening years, now randomly given to yours truly.
Within a few hours, my new friend had me caught up on the particulars. The location of the farm, the places that had been searched, legends about abandoned wells, the location of the old out-buildings, which trees or other landmarks had existed then. The usual. And he gave me permission to conduct the search, on the condition that I use twenty percent of the money to 1) make a mockery of a particularly obnoxious son, and 2) help a niece down on her luck with her kids’ college tuition.
Hard to say no to that. You all know I have a soft spot for hard luck cases, and have no objection to exacting revenge, whether or not deserved. So we drew up a contract on the back of a map he sketched out on a piece of lined paper. It took forever, but all in all, it was pretty clear.
So off I went to rural Georgia, with the map/contract, a metal detector, US Geological Survey maps, dowsing rod, digging implements, night-vision goggles, my Desert Eagle, and my battered old copy of Herodotus. The usual supplies for such a venture; Herodotus in particular I find bracing these sorts of situations, because he has so many fantastic stories that were dismissed of old, yet have proven true in the end.
So what is there to tell of Georgia? It was largely a catalog of privations and disappointments. I faced frustration and frostbite. Blisters from digging. The hostility of suspicious country folks. Rotgut moonshine. The unbelievable shock of waking up six hours before noon. Unbelievable bills for flashlight batteries when the 6 am wakeup didn’t go as well as planned. Misjudging my supply of Gauloises Blondes, and having to switch to Lucky Strikes. Bouts of involuntary celibacy brought on by the lack of suitable waitresses at the sole diner in town. The culinary indignities of MRE Box B. The annoyance of sharing a room with Squirrel the second week when it became clear that bringing on another strong back would be wise; particularly one who had in-depth knowledge of the Civil War and Sherman’s army. The shock of disturbing a nest of dormant rattlers, and the sweet taste of rattler meat cooked over a seasoned hickory fire. But in the end, no treasure. Not yet; the search an unreported victim of Winter Storm Jonas.
I wish there were more to report, but it is what it is. My team of lawyers in Gibraltar have reviewed the contract, and it’s all good. I’m back for now, but wanted to let you know what was going on, and to apologize for all the re-posts and sh1tty Six Word Stories.