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Gold, Jewels, Art, My Father
About the Author: David Rachels has published short fiction in Mystery Tribune, Tough, Switchblade, and other places. As well, he is the author of Verse Noir (Automat.Press) and the editor of three volumes of Gil Brewer's short stories (forthcoming from Stark House Press).


My father told me that I was old enough to keep a secret.

“Sweet Jesus,” my mother muttered, “here we go.”

“This is when I was in Kentucky,” my father said.

“You were never in Kentucky a day in your life,” my mother said.

“Don’t you listen to her, David,” my father said. “I did most of my living before I ever met your mother.” He turned his body away from her, as if to negate her presence at the dinner table. “Now, do you know about Fort Knox?”

“That’s where they keep the gold,” I said.

“You’re damn right that’s where they keep the gold. There’s so much gold, they can’t even keep track of it all. That’s why I could get mine and get away. I was driving behind an armored car when a gold bar fell off its bumper, right there in the middle of the street. I jumped out of my car and grabbed it and drove away before anybody even knew it was missing.”

“Why was there a gold bar on the bumper?”

“Somebody must have set it down and forgot about it. Like I said, when you’ve got that much gold, who can keep track?”

I was young enough to believe.

“What’s it worth?” I asked.

“Probably a million dollars,” my father said, “but it doesn’t matter. There’s nothing you can do with a gold bar.”

“Why don’t you take it to the bank?”

“And then what? They’ll want to know where you got the gold bar, and then what do you say?”

“Please stop talking,” my mother said.

“So what did you do with it?” I asked.

“It’s buried in the backyard. That’s what you have to do with treasure sometimes. You just have to hide it until hopefully someday somebody can use it.”

This made me wonder what would happen if I dug up the gold bar and took it to the bank. When they asked me where I got it, I would say I found buried treasure, and it would be true! Maybe that would work?

But first, I had to figure out where to dig. The next day after school, I was wandering around in our backyard and staring at the grass when Curtis, who lived next door, came outside with a beer in his hand. Curtis was ten years older than me, ten years younger than my father. He hung around our house with my father sometimes. My mother didn’t like it.

“What the hell are you doing?” he wanted to know. He seemed agitated. It occurred to me right away that he might know about the gold. Maybe he had seen my father bury it? Maybe he had already taken it? Maybe he didn’t want me to discover he had taken it?

This was the first time an adult had ever cursed at me.

I panicked. I couldn’t think of a lie, so I blurted some of the truth: “Buried treasure,” I said.

“Are you serious?” he said.

“Pirates,” I said, in a belated attempt to make a lie out of it.

“What did he tell you?”

“Who?”

“Your father. What did he tell you?”

“Blackbeard,” I said.

“I guess you want to walk the plank?” Curtis said. “Don’t let me catch you out here again.”

He didn’t have to tell me a second time. Back inside I went. But I went back inside with a sense of purpose. I would hang on my father’s every word. When my mother dismissed him, I would pay her no mind. There had to be some truth to what he had told me, or Curtis wouldn’t be trying to scare me off.

But when my father finally told the story again, it changed. Kentucky and the gold bar gave way to the Civil War and a tin can of rubies, emeralds, and diamonds. One of my father’s ancestors—he couldn’t say for sure which one—managed to save the family jewels from General Sherman and his fellow damn Yankees.

“And that can is buried in our backyard!” my father said.

“Right next to the gold bar?” my mother wanted to know.

Another story my father told was that our family’s riches consisted of a painting by Johannes Vermeer, which was personally stolen by Adolf Hitler from a Jewish family in Minsk, then smuggled out of Germany by my great-grandfather, who found it neatly folded in a burlap sack in Baumann’s Cave. As absurd as it sounded, this was the story I believed the most because it would have taken my father so much more effort to invent than the other two, and my father was never one to put much effort into anything.



This story appears in our MAY 2019 Issue
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Reader Discussion

8
May
Funny sassy dialogue! Hmmm … makes you think, don't it?
By Susan Rickard

8
May
Well done: great little story
By Maddi Davidson

8
May
Well done! So, not all loose end tied up..better that way.
By Joan Leotta

9
May
great story i was hooked reading it skipped lunchcongrats davidlooking for more from you
By SAIRAM MURTHY

9
May
This was good! The story made me stay up past my bedtime, and then...oh!! Great story line! Well written !
By Tina Jude

9
May
This is my favorite type of mystery. Love good dialogue and humor!
By Brad

9
May
Thanks, all!
By David Rachels

10
May
Had to finish this story. Kept my interest. Nice work.
By Lisbeth Mizula

13
May
Good one David. bravo.
By Sky Ghost


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