Wednesday, July 12, 2006

My Quackenbush – part 4

My Quackenbush part 1
My Quackenbush part 2
My Quackenbush part 3

by Tom Gaylord

When I asked the man how he came by the gun, he shuddered and told me a dark tale. He found it in a small cave up in the hills above the community of Los Gatos. He said there were other things up there that he didn't want to talk about, but I made him draw me a map of the place just the same.

The next week, I set out on my horse to locate the spot on the map. After two days of looking, I was sure I had found it. That was confirmed by the appearance of a semi-clothed skeleton tucked under some rocks, which I assumed was the small cave the man described. There wasn't much left, but somehow I knew that this was the body of Scrappy Jack, who had left thirteen years before.

I dug him a proper grave, although not as deep as one in a cemetery, and I dragged what was left of him into it. Saying a few words over the resting place of what I imagine could be considered a friend seemed strange, as it brought to my attention how little I really knew about the man. Then I remembered his stories about his "bank."

He said it was located in a grove of large trees, so nobody could spy on him when he was digging it up. But that was all he ever said about it. So I spent the rest of the time looking around for a grove of trees that fit the description. I didn't find them, but I did find the remnants of another more permanent camp with a lean-to that was still partially standing. Exploring this structure, I found two of the Quackenbush cat slugs laying in a corner. No doubt this was a place Scrappy Jack had holed up. Vowing to return, I rode back home.

I was able to get away again three months later, and rode straight to the old lean-to, to continue the search. I had recalled that Scrappy Jack had once mentioned the beautiful view from the place where his bank was located, and since the lean-to was not in such a place, I decided to look in a spot closer to the coast.

Two days later, I found another important clue. There was a rock that looked like an arrow pointing toward the coast, and I remembered Jack mentioning something about following the arrow when he went to his bank. I looked for three more days but found nothing. Then, as I was leaving, I looked at the arrow once more. It was pointing towards the coast, but it was also pointing towards a spot on the neighboring hill where there was a stand of low trees. From the look of the place, it might have been possible to see all the way to the coast from there.



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