Kari was lounging on her beach chair staring out at the ocean. It glinted and shimmered brilliantly in the afternoon sun. The waves peaked and descended in a soft, endless motion. She was mesmerized by the sight and the warm Caribbean sun. A little breeze played over her shoulders as she smoothed on more sun tan lotion.
“God, Matt, don’t you just love this place!” she gushed.
Matt, next to her, on another beach lounger, grunted a reply. He was hunched over his ipad, typing something and peering at the screen.
“Can’t you put that down for just a bit, we’re supposed to be on vacation?”
Matt grunted again. “Uhh.” He scowled at the screen.
Kari threw the bottle of lotion down in disgust. There was no talking to him while he was in one of his ‘writing’ moods. He simply shut everything out.
She continued to stare at the white sandy beach in front of them. Her attention was caught by movement about 50 yards away. Was that a cat? She thought to herself. No, two cats. What are cats doing on the beach? They must belong to someone.
She sat completely up trying to see them. “They’re digging for something.” She said out loud. Matt didn’t look up. “I wonder.”
Kari got up and wrapped her new island shawl around her hips. She had found this really great deal for Easter break on Punta Cana, Dominican Republic and they were actually able to afford a vacation for once. She even had a little left over to shop for clothes.
Slipping into her Reef sandals she walked slowly down to the beach where she could see the animals. If she went too fast, she knew she’d scare them away. She adjusted her glasses. “Cats, no. Not cats.”
“Oh, my God,” she whispered. “They’re skunks. Too much!” Giggling she moved a little closer.
The two skunks ignored her as they busily dug and clawed in the sand.
“What the heck…?” Kari sank into the sand and watched, intrigued. She could see one of the skunks pull something out of the hole and start to eat it. Some kind of purple fruit? Grapes or plums maybe.
She watched, fascinated while the animals dug and pulled the fruit out and shoved it in their mouths. There was a sharp sound, like a pop or retort of an engine and one skunk looked up, startled. In one swift movement the two ran from the beach still holding fruit in their jaws.
Kari laughed. “What an island experience. So cute! Damn it, where was the camera when you needed it?” She decided to go examine the hole.
Sauntering over she bent down and looked in. A green plastic shopping bag that held grapes had been ripped open by the skunks. She was still laughing about it when something gleamed in the sunlight. “What…?”
She gingerly pulled out the ripped bag and could see the corner of something in the sand below it. She started to dig frantically with her hands. “Ow!”
She had scratched herself on a sharp metal corner. Ignoring the owey, she dug more and uncovered the handle of a small metal box. She yanked and pulled with all her 110 pounds. The box popped out of the hole.
Speechless, she stared at the little gray box. It was old with corroded metal and a little push lock on the front. She pushed the lock and the top swung back. Her mouth fell open.
The box was full of metal coins, dozens and dozens of coins, some gold but mostly silver. She picked a silver one up and looked at it. It was really worn and old. It looked to be a man with lots of hair and a laurel crown on one side and some symbols on the other. She was staring fixedly at the coin.
“I’ll take that little lady.”
Kari jerked up her brown curly head and saw a large pistol right in her face. Looking upwards, she could see the pistol was attached to a very large man in an old Hawaiian shirt and shorts. A big man; burly and very tan. He held out his hand.
Kari, scooting backwards on the sand almost fell over. The large man grabbed the box, slammed the lid back on and shifted it up under a bronzed arm.
“I’ll take that one too.” He was gesturing at the coin clutched in her hand.
There was a sharp “plunking” sound and a short branch hit the man in the back of the head.
“Get away from her!” Yelled an angry Matt, waving another branch threateningly.
The man turned and pointed the gun at Matt.
“Back off cowboy,” he waved the gun. “Don’t want nobody hurt.”
The engine revved in the speedboat that had pulled up on the shore.
“Come on asshole!” Another tanned man, still in the boat, yelled at his mate.
The big man repositioned the box under his arm and walked backwards a few feet then turned and ran quickly back to the boat. He handed the box to his friend and jumped aboard. The boat reversed and then sped away back to sea.
Matt ran over to Kari and grabbed her. “Are you alright?”
“Matt, it’s okay, he didn’t hurt me.” Kari was almost breathless and hugged Matt, the coin still stuck in her hand.
Later, the two were in the offices of Dr. Bob, antiquities professor from the University of Indiana. He had a small office in the center of town.
“Well,” he pushed up his spectacles, “It’s not my place to say, but…” He held the coin in his hand after examining it with a magnifying glass. “Wait..”
He went over to a book in the corner and flipped through it. “Yes, here.” He pointed.
Matt and Kari went over to the book and looked down. His finger rested on a color picture of an old coin. “Charles II Merk, about 1676 I think.”
“Wow,” Matt managed to get out.
“How much do you think it’s worth Doctor?” Kari asked.
“Maybe $300 – $350 dollars American,” the doctor replied.
He had listened in silence to their entire story of finding the box, the coins and the men on the beach. He tapped his teeth with a pencil and rolled his chair over to his computer.
“Could be, could be,” they could hear him mumbling.
“Dominican Republic is known, famously really, as a bounty hunter’s treasure trove. Many a ship from Europe sank off these waters taking their treasure chests with them.” He paused, thinking.
“This coin you found,” he gestured at Kari, “Is a silver Merk from Scotland and could very well have been from the ship belonging to the famous pirate, Captain Kidd.”
The young people gasped.
Dr. Bob continued. “Its value would be even greater if it could be proved to have come from that ship.”
“How would we know?”
“Ah, well, there’s the rub,” the doctor continued. “Your evidence is gone isn’t it? With those two guys in the powerboat.” He put down his glasses and stared at them thoughtfully.
“Police?” asked Matt.
The doctor just shook his head no.
Later, the couple lounged by the poolside at their hotel sipping Mai-Tais on their last night before going home. Matt was pounding away on a brand new ipad and Kari was admiring a new pinkie ring she had purchased.
“You know,” she said thoughtfully, “If we had just held out longer, it might have been proved to have come from that ship.”
“Yeah,” Matt replied without looking up from his screen. “But who wants to stay in Punta Cana. Too many skunks!”
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