Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Hidden Treasure

The hunting instinct is probably what makes us want to strike it rich in some fashion. Deer season puts us squarely into that instinct as if no time has passed since our forebears roamed the forest looking for a feast. During the fall months, a lot of my acquaintances begin to look like our ancestors must have looked, scraggly, unkempt and, well, content.
But this desire to strike it rich somehow infiltrates other areas of our lives as well. I have mentioned before that I used to work for a rough old carpenter. He was a rugged fellow, sun-darkened, tough-skinned and plain spoken. Being quite hard of hearing, he used to call me Swilley, because he knew that my step-father (he took him for my father) was Loy Swilley, a fine carpenter that he apparently admired. So, I was not Danny Ford to him; I was just Swilley. Instead of trying to explain to him my true name, I just went along with it. When he said, “Swilley,” I jumped.
One Saturday afternoon when my co-worker and I were sitting on the old guy’s front porch he was more than usually talkative. Perhaps he was just relaxed from a day away from the grind.
“Swilley,” he said, “I know where there is some treasure buried up on the Little Missouri River. I know right where it’s at. I need a young fellow like you to go camping up there with me to help me dig. I don’t need no map. I know right where it’s at. We could get us a tent at the Army Surplus and take off up there. I done got all the picks and shovels we would need. We can fish a right smart, too. I know where we can catch us some fish on the Little Missouri. We can fry them right out there on the bank and all.”
I glanced at my co-worker, the old guy’s nephew, there on the porch as the rugged man waxed more and more voluble. He shook his head clandestinely, as if to say, “Let my uncle talk; he ain’t never going to go on that treasure hunt. I have heard it all before.”
“What do you think, Swilley? When do you want to go?”
“I guess we can go when we finish the chicken house.” We were on the tail end of a job of erecting a 400 by 40 foot chicken house the way we used to build them—sinking a lot of four-by-fours and latching a tin roof onto them.
“Well, let’s see about stopping by the Army Surplus after work Monday.”

After work Monday, the boss said, “Swilley, if I had a Big Gulp, I believe I could drink every bit of it.” We stopped at the Grab-N-Go and he was as good as his word. Monday came and went with no mention of the Little Missouri River. Perhaps the treasure he was looking for was a little closer to home than he thought.

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