The Old Trunk

Almost 10 years ago I came into possession of an old trunk full of old maps. An old time treasure hunter and dowser had gathered and collected many topographical maps and marked them with notes and locations, and after he passed away, his daughter found the trunk hidden in their barn and decided to contact other treasure hunters in hopes of splitting whatever finds could be made. I got the call after she contacted a person I know at a certain metal detecting manufacturer, who was not interested. Honestly, I viewed the accuracy of these maps as bogus, but agreed with the old man’s daughter that I would split, 50/50, anything that I found using those maps. So my buddy and I jumped in the truck and made the several hour trip to deep east Texas. After all, a road trip is fun and you don’t really need much of an excuse anyway!

While we were there, the son in law, who was at work, kept calling and telling my buddy and I to please stay till he got home because he had something important to tell us, so we killed the time by looking at the maps. Cracking open the old trunk-a treasure in its own right-we were greeted by spiders and other creepy crawlies that had made the trunk their home. Naturally we were ‘invited’ to move outside -post haste- since in our zeal to get a look inside, we had placed the trunk on the lady’s kitchen table! So we closed everything up and put the trunk outside, since there were so many maps inside, and so many bugs, that we realized we would need a large area, free of wind, and with plenty of light, to sort these out anyway. To help pass the time that seemed to drag on and on, we ate homemade ice cream and listened to stories while the husband made his way over from one of the nearby towns.

He finally arrived and immediately told us that of all the maps, hundreds of them, there was only one that he knew for a fact was real because they had gone to the location. He had already searched the trunk but couldn’t find the map, although he felt confident it was in there. So he sat down and began the story of the only treasure hunt he had ever been on with his father in law. His eyes were getting bigger with each word as he began. I sat there, courteously, ready with my mental BS meter engaged.

They drove into the bayou country of southern Louisiana, put in by boat, and followed the river, then a smaller channel further back into the bayou. This would have been the same route used back in the pirate days, and back there, deep in the swamps, was an old tree with a chain around it, and a sunken treasure at the other end! Well they found the tree, ringed by vegetation that was a different color than the surroundings. Leading from that circle was a line of the same discolored vegetation, into the water of the small channel. Digging down they found a large chain! The supposed prize at the end? A brass cannon filled with gold and silver, placed there by Jean Lafitte himself! His eyes were kinda crazy as he talked, and he even had an annoying bit of spit at the corner of his mouth from getting so wound up. His wife, the old man’s daughter, told him he needed to calm down before his blood pressure went up, get a drink, take his time… But we didn’t drive that long to wait around, we had a 4 hour drive back home! He took a giant swig of tea and continued, ‘as we pulled on the chain the wind started howling. It was like a storm was coming but the day was clear. We both dug and pulled and dug and pulled, but we were afraid to get in the water. We kept working till the chain seemed to move just a little, then we heard an alligator growl, looked out in the channel and there were a bunch of alligators there all looking right at us! We dropped the chain and ran! We always wanted to go back with another person and a winch, but Mr. XXXXXX died before we could. I ain’t goin back but I’m tellin ya it’s there!’

My buddy and I sat there for a minute taking it all in, and watching in wonder at how worked up the man had become as he recounted the failed treasure hunt. ‘It’s all true, and the map is somewhere in that trunk’ he said. ‘I’d start with that one if you ever can find that map!’

Time went by and we never found the map he was talking about. Due to age the penciled markings and notations had faded almost completely on what maps we examined. We put them all back in the trunk for ‘another day’. A few years later my buddy and I parted ways but I kept the trunk. I really never gave them a second thought till last year, talking with some friends in south Louisiana, the story came back to me. They live in bayou country. They have a guest house that could be a great base of operations if I ever decided to chase that stuff. Well maybe I’ll check those maps again one day…

Last night I found the map.

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