Sand Dollars

by Richard Dyer
It is the spring of 1698. The famous pirate Captain William Kidd and first mate Timothy Jones stand on a sandy beach on the shores of the Manasquan River in the colony of New Jersey.

“Jonesy lad, my days as a privateer are over. I found me a lovely lass in Brigantine by the name of Amanda. I be hangin’ up my pistols and turning to farming.”

“Capt’n, ye be a bringing me ashore in the long boat for what purpose? The coins and swag were split with the crew. We need no fresh water. Why we be a mooring here?”

“Aye Jonesy, not all were divided. I have gems and jewels in the longboat.”

Jones smiled. He knew the Captain had stolen from the crew before.

“We bury the jewelry here and once we bribe the courts for our freedom, we return and reclaim our spoils.”

Jones nodded. The Captain was a cunning and intelligent man.

“What say you Captain?”

“Grab the shovel and follow me to the point there.” Captain Kidd pointed to a spot on the beach that stuck out from the shore line. Kidd reached into the boat and pulled out a wooden box. The box was about twelve inches high by twelve inches deep and twenty four inches long. It was decorated with brass etchings and an iron lock. Jones followed Kidd along the beach. Once they reached the point Kidd walked off fourteen paces. Fourteen being the number of ships he had plundered. He turned to Jones and said “Here!”

Jones started digging as Kidd paced the beach scanning the water and land. He wanted to be sure that they were not disturbed in their business. Jones completed the four foot deep hole. He climbed out and brushed the sand and mud from his clothes. From behind him Captain Kidd asked, “All done then?”

“Aye Cap….” Jones’ voice trailed off and his eyes grew large. He turned quickly drawing his knife to face Kidd. The sound of the shot rang in his ears. He saw his captain standing in front of him with smoke rising from the pistol in his hand. Jones looked down and saw the blood. He took one step towards Kidd and then fell to his knees. He looked up at the infamous pirate and smiled.

“I should have known,” he thought.

“Sorry Jonesy, one keeps a secret better then two.” Kidd put the pistol back in his belt. 

Jones’s body fell to the sand. Kidd grabbed the shovel and made the hole larger. He dragged Jones’s body into the hole and crossed his arms across his chest. He removed anything of value from the body, placed the strong box on his stomach and refilled the hole. Captain Kidd smiled as he walked back to the long boat.

“Poor Jonesy,” he thought, “a fine pirate but a poorjudge of character.”

Little did the captain know that he would be captured within a year in Massachusetts and hung for piracy in London, England. Jones and the treasure’s existence were never disclosed at Kidd’s trial. They were lost to history.

Today, the summer of 2009. Ian Hunter and his older cousin Devin Meheen played in the sand at the Manasquan Beach. The rip tides were brutal and swimming was too dangerous. The boys played Frisbee and made a sand castle. Their mothers were soaking up some sun and talking about the upcoming school year. With the approach of late afternoon, the women gathered up their beach items and prepared to head home.

“What do you have planned for tomorrow?” Devin’s mother Cheryl asked.

“Nothing planned. You want to do this again?” Susanne, Ian’s mother loved the beach.

“This has been so relaxing, you’re on.” The boys ran up to the blankets upon hearing that they would be returning to the beach.

“What will we do if the beach is closed for swimming again?” Ian was tired of sand castles.
“I don’t know. You guys will have to come up with something on your own.” His mother replied.

“This stinks.” Devin had to voice his opinion.

“Get over it. Would you rather be sitting in your room at home?”

The boys helped pack up the stuff. They piled into Susanne’s convertible and drove home. When they got to Devin’s house the boys said goodbye.

Ian played quietly on the floor at his home while his mother got dinner ready. They were having burgers on the grill. When his father got home, they decided it was too hot to eat outside so they had dinner together in the Living room and watched a movie. Ian’s dad picked out an Indiana Jones movie. Ian loved the Indiana Jones films. He often played out scenes from the movies with his action figures. Just as the movie was ending, Ian had a brilliant idea.

“Hey Dad, since we are going to the beach again tomorrow would it be alright if I used your new metal detector?”

“That depends. Do you promise to take good care of it?”

“Yes, Sir.” Ian replied while rolling his eyes.

“It’s ok with me as long as it’s ok with your mother.”

“As long as you’re good and take care of it. It’s very expensive,” his mother interjected.

“I promise, I promise.”

Ian washed up, brushed his teeth, said his prayers, and went to bed. He dreamed of a jungle adventure with bad guys, booby traps and treasure. The next morning he helped load up the car. When they got to his aunt’s house, Devin was standing outside waiting for them. Ian called to him and immediately told him about the metal detector and how he couldn’t wait to try it out. They found a parking spot along the inlet and the boys helped carry the beach stuff to the water’s edge. After the blankets were down and the umbrella was up, the boys fired up the metal detector. Within a few minutes, a lifeguard trotted up to them.

“Hi Fellas, metal detectors aren’t allowed on the beach until dusk.”

The boys looked blank and then back at their mothers.

“You have to wait for the sun to go down.” Cheryl said, trying to get the boys to understand.

“If you guys want, you can use the detector over at Dog Beach.” The life guard said as he jogged away.

Dog Beach was a stretch of beach along the river. It was a mixture of sand and river mud, and the water had lots of rocks. People didn’t sun bath there. It was part of a park where people were allowed to walk their dogs. The boys looked pleadingly at their mothers.

“Go on, but check back so we know you are alright, ok?” Susanne smiled and waved them on.

The boys ran to the inlet and didn’t start up the detector until they were halfway down the beach. Devin worked the detector while Ian carried a little hand shovel, a net to sift the sand, and a white spackle bucket. After about five minutes, the detector’s buzzer went off. Ian dug into the muddy sand and put it through the sifter. A nail. Ian put it in the bucket and they moved on. Within the hour they had discovered the nail, a bottle top, part of an old beer can, and a piece of metal that looked like part of a crab trap.

“Can I use the detector now?” Ian pleaded.

“Oh all right! Just be careful.” Ian fumbled with the dial as Devin tried to help him. They rounded the point and the detector’s buzzer went off. Devin dug in the sand but there was nothing there.

“You must have that thing messed up or something.”

Ian waived the detector over the spot again and the buzzer continued to go off.

“You’re not digging deep enough.” Devin dug deeper and the detector rang even louder.

“There’s probably an old oil drum buried down there. Let’s move on.”

“You’re not interested in seeing what’s down there?” Ian frowned.

“I guess, but you need to help me dig.”

The boys got on their knees and started digging. At first they took turns with the shovel but then Devin grabbed a flat piece of drift wood. The mud got thicker the deeper that they dug. So Ian would loosen up the mud with the shovel and Devin would scoop it out. A man walking his dog stopped to watch.

“What are you guys digging up, a Chevy?”

“Don’t know, but we ain’t giving up now.” Ian was like a pit bull. Once he sank his teeth in into something he wasn’t about to let go. Then Ian hit something hard. He stuck his fingers in the muck and pulled out a ball.

“I’ll get some water.” Devin said as he dumped out their treasures from the white bucket and ran to fill it with river water. Ian brushed away some of the thick mud from the ball as Devin ran up. Devin poured the water over the ball. The man with the dog muttered, “Oh my God.”

And then ran up the beach yelling.

“Help, we need help down here.”

Devin stood frozen and wide-eyed looking at the object in Ian’s hands. It was a human skull. Ian dropped the skull back into the hole and looked into the empty eye sockets that stared back at him. The hair on the back of his neck stood on end and he was about to run away when he spotted something else in the hole. He picked up the shovel and poked at it. It was hard like the skull. He scraped the shovel over it and realized it was made of wood.
“It’s wood. Help me get it out of the hole.” Devin snapped out of his trance. He fell to his knees and helped Ian dig out the wooden box. As they unearthed the strong box, a small crowd began to form. The man with the dog returned with a policeman and the boys’ mothers.
“You boys need to back away from there now,” the police said as he surveyed what he believed to be a crime scene. The boys lifted the box onto the beach. The iron lock clanked and then fell to the sand. The wood around the lock was rotted and water logged from the years it spent in the mud. Ian pushed open the lid.

“Holy cow!” The policeman said, slack jawed. The crowd drew a little closer to check out the box’s glittering contents. The gold and gems shimmered in the sun like a box full of Christmas ornaments. The policeman made the boys sit to the side with their mothers. He had everyone else leave the beach and radioed for assistance. Over the course of the next few hours, the boys statements were taken. The forensic investigators declared that the site was no longer a crime scene but an archeological find.

During the next few months, the boys were interviewed by the newspapers and the TV news. It was a very exciting time for them. The State of New Jersey claimed the treasure and put it on display in the state museum in Trenton. A plaque at the exhibit listed the boys’ names as “the brave adventurers” who discovered the artifacts. The boys also received full State scholarships for any New Jersey State College to pay for their future education. Their parents also wanted to reward the boys. They sat down with them to plan a special vacation for the coming spring.

“Do you guys want to go to Disney World when school lets out? We will have to make the reservations soon if we want to get the rooms.” Devin’s father was as excited as the boys.
“We were talking it over and Devin and I want to go to Nassau in the Bahamas.” Ian declared matter-of –factly.

“Why the Bahamas?” Ian’s mother asked.

“It was the base of operations for many pirates.” Devin smiled.

Ian looked at his father. “Oh, Dad, can we borrow your metal detector again.” 

The parents looked at each other and laughed.

© 2010 Richard Dyer.  All rights reserved.

Richard Dyer has just finished his book Drinkin’ from the Hose, a humorous collection of childhood adventures during the politically incorrect 1970’s. The book is currently being edited for publication.  Mr. Dyer currently resides at the Jersey shore with his wife, Susanne and son, Ian.  His work has appeared in Sinister Tales Magazine and Whortleberry Press’s Christmas Anthology.