A Brief Tale of Intrigue
| Deep Blue - entered in Short Shots contest - March 2019
John and I were on our honeymoon. We had rented a boat to go out on a gorgeous aquamarine blue lake near Amagardo, Once over the middle of the lake, we killed the engine and dug into our picnic lunch. As I munched on a turkey sandwich, I looked over the edge of the boat into the crystal clear water. You could see to the bottom. Rocks, fish, old trees, even a boat could be seen. But then - what was that?
"John, come look."
He inched over to where I was sitting. "What am I looking at?" He, too, was now peering over the edge of the small motorboat.
I tried to point to the spot. "There, by that old boat, near the big rock. See it?"
"Oh yeah. Maybe, kind of oblong?"
"That's it. Do you think we can get it?"
"Probably not. They say you shouldn't go beyond 130 feet down without scuba gear. And the boat rental people said this lake is at least 150 feet at this point. So no, we can't dive in and get that. Anyways, it's probably just some old piece of wood."
As we motored back to the marina, I thought about that mystery object. And the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to know what it was. But the mysteriousness lessened as the honeymoon ended and our life started.
On our tenth anniversary, we took a trip back to Amagardo. We stayed at the same hotel, ate at the same restaurants, and amazingly, found the same marina open. As we reached the middle of the lake, I searched in vain for that spot where we had spotted the mystery object. We did a search for an hour before giving it up to the dark.
"Maybe we were in the wrong spot," I said.
"Or maybe we never saw it at all." was John's reply.
"What? You saw it the same as me! Didn't you?" I was so mad, and just a bit adamant. That was a tense night.
The next day on our way home, we stopped by an antique store. As we browsed, we spied an old teak box on a back room shelf. There it was! The oblong object from the water we had seen ten years ago sat amongst some cobweb covered rocks. We purchased the box as an anniversary gift to ourselves, and then talked about our adventure all the way home.
"It is just as I remember it! Oblong and kind of tea-colored!" I cradled the box in my arms like a new baby. It was wrapped in some newspaper, courtesy of the shopkeeper.
"I seem to remember it larger, somehow. But maybe it is because of the water's angle and all," said John. "But it is something to behold, that's for sure. How do you think it came to be in the bottom of that lake?" John drove down the small lane then merged onto the interstate as we made our way home.
"I like to think it sank with that boat we saw nearby. Perhaps some lovers went out, their boat sank, they drowned, and the box went with them." I smiled and looked out the window toward Amagardo and the blue water of Lake Alice.
"Well, that is a perfectly morbid thought, Janeen. Sounds like one of those horrid stories you dream up."
"My stories are not horrid. And since when did you think they were horrid by the way?"
"Never mind. You're off track. We'll probably never know what happened. Let's just enjoy our find and our fun story that goes with it. You can write the story and put it in the box when we get home. Then the box goes on the mantel. And when we die someday, someone else will inherit it and read all about it!" John grinned at me as he planned it all out.
"Aren't you Mr. Smartie Pants! OK, so that is just what we'll do then!"
The years flew by. John and Janeen Smithers grew old, and died, as people do. But the box was always on their mantel. After their funeral, folks gathered at their home. Their children had a small gathering of friends and family. The story of the old teak box was told. The much-folded piece of paper was refolded and put back into the box. But this time, a new second piece of paper was read to all. Instructions were given as how to open a very secret compartment on the bottom of the box. None of the children ever remember opening this compartment before. The small opening in the bottom was seamless. Inside wrapped in red velvet was a large blue aquamarine jewel. With the jewel was another small piece of paper.
Mark, the oldest son, read the words: "Dearest family and friends, what you see is the Deep Blue. This jewel is from the estate of Alice Amagardo. It was lost in 1790. Seems Alice liked to go exploring. One she day didn't come back. She was wearing this jewel when she disappeared. We like to think she was in a boat with her lover and they sank on the lake. But were they drowned by her jealous husband? Hmm, what story will you now tell your children about the Deep Blue?"
Mark said, "Well, in the interest of the children in the room, I vote for the story that the boat they were in sank in a bad storm on the lake. You know how storms come up here in New York. One minute the sky is blue, and one minute it is all fire and brimstone from heaven. It very easily could have been like that. A bad storm with wind could have capsized a small boat on a small lake."
Marilyn, the middle child, had a different take. "I'll try to keep this clean. I kind of like the second version. And we all know Mom could be kind of out there with her wild stories. She could embellish and get us all going with her wild tales of romance and intrigue. So, kids, I think she did go out on the lake with her boyfriend, and they were very much in love. And while they were out on that lake, her boyfriend gave her that valuable jewel. Since they were so in love, but could never be together, they decided to end it on the lake. That was the end. The wine they drank that day was their doom."
A small little girl asked, "What does doom mean?" She looked up at Marilyn, her big blue eyes a mirror image of Marilyn's.
"Ah bug, Mommy's talking about a story Grandma Neena told. Doom means the end."
"Oh, OK. Are Grandma Neena and Pappa gone now?"
"Yes, bug, they are gone now. And we miss them very much. But we have their stories to remember. And those stories will make us happy when we tell them!"
Bug smiled and burrowed deeper into Marilyn's lap, happy with that telling of the tale.
Marlene, the younger of the three, frowned. "Oh come on! I think they made the whole thing up. You know Mom. She could be SO dramatic. Anything to get attention. She's even doing this from the grave. Sorry folks, but this is nothing but histrionics on her part, and Dad played along, as he always did. He could never bear to disappoint her. Even now, I am sure, he is smiling at her and saying, 'Good one, Janeen, they believe every word.'" She stomped out of the room, moved to the kitchen to refill her wine glass. Then refueled, marched back into the dining room. "And another thing, what are we to do with this jewel now? Huh? I mean, look at it! Sell it? What if it is stolen property?"
Waves lapped over the small boat. The red color of the soldiers' coats stood out against the blue of the lake. "Faster!" yelled the Sergeant. Four soldiers quickened the pace as they tried to catch up to a smaller boat near the center of the lake.
Alice and Harry spied the boat approaching. A sharp report from a gun could be heard. Harry slipped a wooden box into the deep water, then started rowing away. "I don't think they saw us drop it. Hurry!" Alice shouted at Harry. Suddenly their boat capsized and both fell into the ice-cold water.
As the soldiers got near where the two went under the water, they tried in vain to see where the smaller boat had sunk. But the couple was gone, the boat was gone, the box was gone. No trace was seen. A search of the lake was done, but no bodies or box were ever found. The Deep Blue jewel of the Crown of England was lost forever. Stolen by Harry and Alice Amagardo Edwards.
Word Count 1488