by Irv Pliskin
In Lou Harris’s opinion, the very best time to vacation in Maine was September. The weather was perfect: cool breezes, warm afternoons and evenings with just enough chill in the air that nobody needed an air conditioner for comfortable sleeping..Harris was enjoying his vacation: He and his family had arrived on Saturday, September 8, just in time to celebrate his birthday with a wonderful down east lobster dinner. They had spent Sunday and Monday as a family, investigating the Desert of Maine and visiting the colleges in Brunswick and Lewiston.
Now, he was on his own at 5:30 Tuesday morning looking for hidden treasure or whatever else he could find buried in the sand.
The resort owner had suggested a ‘virgin’ spot, an almost hidden cove.
"Place is hard to git to, but sure is a likely spot for good scroungin’." He had drawn him a map of the ‘hidden cove’ and told him how tough it was to get to.
"Yer not gonna find nobody there," he said. "Pretty private place. Hard to get to but you might hit pay dirt in that cove. Eyahh. Worth the effort, mebbe."
So here he was, his metal detector, strapped to his back scrambling over rocks and hillocks. He had slipped a couple of times, and scraped his knee pretty badly. He was happy that he was wearing jeans rather than shorts.
He might have done real damage to himself in short pants. But it was close to sunrise, and it was getting lighter now. Lou could see where to put his feet, so he was less likely to slip or take another tumble. He was congratulating himself on his good condition. He had been sixty at the turn of the century, and now at sixty one he still felt great. He wasn’t ready to quit and sit in a rocking chair, not yet at least. There was a great future for him. He was getting ready to retire, and spend his time in archeological exploration.
At the top of the rock formation, he stopped and stood for a few minutes looking out at the ocean. The tide was still going out, so he knew that he would have a reasonable time to investigate the cove and whatever might have washed up over the years and been completely buried.
The sun was just coming up, the sky and the ocean were streaked with red as he carefully worked his way down to the beach. It would be full light soon, and he was all alone in the entire world.
"I’m the only man alive today," he shouted exuberantly to the wind. "This is a wonderful feeling. absolutely great." he shouted. ‘Great.’ As he worked his way down to the beach, he whistled a little tune, and then he burst into song.
"It’s a long long time From May to December... and the days grow long
when you reach September."
He was now on the sandy beach. He took off his pack, sat on a rock and drank some hot coffee from his thermos. Then, he picked up the metal detector and walked to the edge of the water, which was just starting to come in, and began to sweep the area. He made half a dozen passes and then the metal detector began to go wild.
"Jesus," he said. "There is really something down there."
He couldn’t see anything, but he took the entrenching tool he had on his belt, and dug it into the surf--packed sand. It took a half a dozen strokes before he hit something hard. Something metal.
He began to dig in earnest. Whatever he’d found was a prettygood size, and he was working himself into a sweat to get to it. He was also conscious of the rising tide, coming up behind him.
He dug and struggled and sweated and when he felt the cold salt water on his ankles, he almost gave up. He might have to wait until the tide went out, and hope he could find the metal object again. But then, he uncovered a handle, and grabbed it.
He pulled, and scraped some more, and got the metal object, a fairly large box, out of the sand just about the time the ocean waves washed over it and filled the hole he had made.
"Wow," he muttered, "that was pretty close. This son of a gun is heavy.I wonder what the hell it is."
He dragged and carried the box to the shore, and hoisted it up on a flat rock. He examined it. It was very old. His amateur archeological eyes told him it was ancient.
The box was barnacle encrusted and rusted in many places. Lou tried to open it. It was locked, and the edges were rusted shut.
He used his pen knife to scrape the edges, and he worked hard and furiously, his curiosity driving him to get the darn thing open. When he checked his watch at 7:30 AM he could see he was making progress. So he doubled his efforts, and in an hour or so he
felt he was getting to the point where he might be able to lift the lid.
He forced the edge of his entrenching tool under the lock , checking his watch to see how long he had been working at the chore, and at 8:45 AM he got the box open.
As he did so, a ray of sunlight hit the box, bringing into focus the legend carved into the metal.
Open with caution
Irv Pliskin is a retired advertising agency owner. He is a combat veteran of World War II and an Ex Prisoner of War of the Germans. Married, with three kids, and four grandchildren he devotes his time to writing flash fiction. He hopes, that someday, he may become the Grandma Moses of flash fiction. He lives with his wife of 57 years in Cherry Hill,NJ. Contact Irv.