Chapter 11: Raven Returns With the Bourbon

“What happened to you? You look like you tried to go up against Jack Dempsey.”

Raven smiled revealing a bloody mouth and said, “Funny, very funny. I tripped over some of that junk you got stored in the cave.”

Melvin struggled to seat himself upright against the pile of straw he was using as a cushion and reaching out his hand for the bottle of bourbon, said, “I will have to defend myself against that accusation, Raven. Depending on which pile of junk you are referring to, there is a good chance I did not put it there.”

“I wasn’t looking where I was going and tripped over a pile of gold that had some strange markings on it.”

Melvin chuckled and smiled saying, “Well, haven’t I always told you that certain things will catch your eye, but you need to chase only those that capture your heart?”

“Yes, sir, you have.”

“So it caught your eye and you see what happened. You wasn’t looking where you was going and tripped—now you got a messed up face with a bloody nose and busted lips.  If you’ll follow your heart instead of your eyes you’ll seldom go wrong.”

“Yes, sir. It caught my eye all right—scratched up my shins too. I was wondering how it got there. It does kind of give you a funny feeling—knowing what it is and all—all the stuff you could do if it was yours.”

“Did it capture your heart?”

“Well, I don’t think anyone could not look at it and wonder all kinds of stuff. That’s lots of gold. There’s probably a gazillion dollars there. I was kinda wondering why you didn’t do anything with it.”

“You haven’t answered my question. Did it capture your heart?”

Raven sat down across from Pappy with a sincere questioning look on his face. After some time for a thorough appraisal of his feelings, he said, “Pappy, I can’t really say. Short story long, I’m more interested in how it got there and why you haven’t done anything with it.”

“I put some of it there but far from all of it. Most of it was there when I showed up. Looks like to me it’s been going on for hundreds of years—storing the gold there, I mean. I didn’t do anything with it because it’s not mine. Besides, I ain’t got no use for it. You can’t eat it you know?”

“Yes sir, I know that but you sure could buy a lot of food with it. Did you put those with the funny markings in there? What do the marks mean?”

“I didn’t put those there. They were there when I found the cave—never did figure out what those marks were. Couldn’t tell if the marks was IXX or XXI—some of them have little dots too. Guess it don’t matter none—it’s still gold.”

“Maybe it’s Captain Kidd’s treasure or the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine. Who’s gold is it?”

“That Dutchman’s mine is supposed to be out west somewhere. Arizona I think, and I’m pretty sure Captain Kidd never made it up to these parts.”

“Maybe someone else found the Dutchman’s mine or Captain Kidd’s treasure and brought it here.”

Melvin was always amazed at the way Raven’s mind worked—it seemed Raven never accepted anything at face value, he was always wanting to know more—analyzing everything. He smiled and said, “Well that’s possible I guess. I just never thought about it that way. Course it would be kinda dumb if you ask me to haul gold from one hidden place to another hidden place. No matter though, it’s here and it’s all yours. You said you could buy lots of food with it. What else could you do with it—what could you buy—what would you buy?”

With a mischievous grin, Raven placed the knuckles of his right hand on his chin, posed like the fellow in the thinking-man-statue and smiled at Pappy for a few seconds before saying, “Hmmm. How about a really bad truck…and a ham radio—one for me and one for Scott… and…”

“You can buy lots of trucks and radios too I suppose with just one of those pieces of gold. Of course it all sounds a little selfish to me. What else would you buy?”

“Pappy, I don’t like playing these kind of games. It’s not my gold and it must not be yours either since you say you haven’t used any of it. I think we might ought to act like we don’t even know it’s there. It belongs to somebody and I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t want us messing with it. We might wind up dead or something.”

Melvin fidgeted with his clothing that had bunched up while scooting across the cave floor and said, “This is not a game. There’s not going to be anybody looking for the gold. It’s yours. It’s been stored up there for I don’t know how many years so you will have it when the time comes that you need it. What are you going to buy with it?”

Raven’s face turned milk-white with apprehension and he slowly lowered himself to a cross-legged sitting position and stared at Melvin with his silent mouth open. Finally he was able to mutter, “I don’t know.”

“We’re going to have some company sometime in the next couple of days that might be able to help you answer that question so just relax. I can see you’re pretty well dumbfounded.”

“Who’s coming—how are they going to find this place?”

“They know how to find us. They will introduce themselves when they arrive. Let me ask you another question?”

“Okay.”

Passing the bottle to Raven, Melvin asks, “Where do the crops grow—where do the animals run—where do the streams flow?”

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