In a determined effort to keep their activities a total secret from everyone, a thick layer of intrigue caused them many unnecessary hardships and almost turned each of them against the others. Unfortunately, some of their earlier important decisions were totally misguided, and they eventuallyz learned that doing the right thing is always the best way to go.
This story is about the day-to-day experiences of those men and how they were able to overcome each of the obstacles they encountered to finally reach a fair and successful conclusion.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.97(d)|
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Sunken Spanish Treasure Quest
By Richard Joseph Johnson
Trafford PublishingCopyright © 2014 Richard Joseph Johnson
All rights reserved.
Aloud and disturbing ringing noise rudely awoke me from a deep and peaceful sleep. Slowly opening my eyes, I lifted my head from my pillow, turned on the table lamp, and focused my eyes to look at the alarm clock on my nightstand. It read 3:20 a.m. Trying to mentally brush the sleep cobwebs from my mind, I heard the telephone ring again, its harsh hammering again disturbing the quiet of my bedroom. I wondered who could possibly be calling me at this early morning hour. With an exerted effort, I raised myself on one elbow, sat up and lifted the phone from its cradle, and then answered in an almost inaudible and sleepy voice, "Hello."
It was a woman's voice I was hearing. She was an overseas operator calling from Seville, Spain, and in a distinct Spanish dialect, she asked me to please hold the line while she connected me to the caller.
"Hello, Brad! I'm terribly sorry to be waking you at this early morning hour, but I knew that you immediately wanted to know what information I'd been successful in finding."
"Is that you, Max?" I asked in a somewhat confused and irritated tone of voice.
"Yes. It's I, Brad," he answered meekly. "Again, I apologize for waking you up from your sleep. I just didn't give any thought to the time difference in Chicago until I had placed the call until the operator told me."
"That's okay, Max," I said through a yawn. "Since I'm almost awake now, you may as well tell me about it. Did you have any trouble locating and copying all of those old documents we talked about?"
"Well, at first I did have a bit of difficulty finding the right building where they were housed," he responded. "When that was done, it then took me the better part of the day to wade through the ship's manifest because there were so darn many of them. Eventually, and with some help from a librarian, I located just what I was looking for. Luckily, the one we wanted was among them. I successfully managed without too much difficulty deciphering most of the other documents I thought we'll need for our purposes. I made photocopies of those documents, and I'm thinking that maybe I should send them to you by Express Mail, if that's all right with you. That will give you and George and Lou time to go over everything which should give us a fast start once I get back to the States."
"That won't be necessary, Max," I answered with another yawn. "We still have plenty of time for that, and we have a lot of other things we have to do before we start things in motion for leaving. Besides, I want to have the three of you here with me when we carefully go through those things. When are you leaving Seville?"
"My return flight to the States is scheduled to leave at ten thirty on Thursday evening," Max answered. "The flight should take me about ten or twelve hours. If it gets to Chicago on time, I should arrive at Chicago's O'Hare Airport sometime on Friday by late morning. I'm told that there is about a five-hour time difference between the country of Spain and the city of Chicago. Is there any chance whatsoever you can pick me up at the airport when I arrive there? I'd really appreciate it if you could do that for me, Brad."
"I don't think so, Max. I've too much work to do around here at that time of the day. I'd suggest you use the limousine service or take a taxi. I still have a lot of things I have to work out in my mind, and I don't want to take the time driving anywhere. Is there anything else you have to tell me about that I should know?"
"No, that's about all of it. I'll see you sometime late on Friday afternoon or, more than likely, on Saturday after I'm rested. Good night, Brad! Again, I'm sorry that I woke you."
Hanging the telephone up, I dropped my head back onto my pillow and closed my eyes. I was hoping to be able to go back to sleep again, but my mind was lost in a clutter of activity, and my thoughts were now centered on things other than sleep. Uppermost in my mind was fine-tuning our unfinished plans along with everything else we had to take care of before we'd be leaving.
After a wide stretch and yet another yawn, I finally pulled myself up from my mattress, sat on the edge of the bed, and turned off the table lamp. There would be no more rest for me this morning, so I decided to get myself showered, shaved, dressed, and then make myself a fresh pot of strong black coffee. I knew I probably would need that to get me through what I'd be facing me this morning.
I'd just emerged from my morning shower and was about to begin to shave when I heard the doorbell ring. Quickly pulling on my bathrobe, I left the bathroom and opened the door to see my cousin George Mason standing in the doorway. He had a big toothy grin on his face and the morning newspaper in his hand.
"It looks as though my arrival is a bit early this morning, Brad. If you don't mind, I'll wait for you in your kitchen while you finish whatever it is you're doing," George said as he quickly entered my apartment and closed the door behind him.
"I just finished showering and was getting ready to shave, but go ahead and make us a pot of coffee. I'll be along with you in a few minutes. The coffeepot is on the stove, and you'll find a can of coffee and a clean cup in the cabinet over the sink," I said as I turned from him to walk back to the bathroom.
Soon after I finished shaving and was dressed for the day, I went into the kitchen, where I saw George sitting at the table, skimming through the pages of the morning newspaper. He looked up as he saw me and asked if there was anything else in the house to go with the coffee.
"Possibly a cinnamon bun or slice of apple or cherry coffee cake? That would be really nice, Brad."
"I'm sorry, George," I answered. "I didn't take time in the past few days to do any grocery shopping, so my cupboard is empty of those rich pastries you seem to crave. Besides that, I've been noticing lately that you are putting on a few extra pounds around the middle," I said that with a grin, "so maybe you should stick to eating a slice of toast with butter for a change. You will find a loaf of raisin bread in the refrigerator along with the butter dish.
"To change the subject for the moment, George, I received a telephone call very early this morning from Max. He told me to expect him here sometime Friday afternoon. He also asked me to pick him up at the airport, but I told him to take a limo or a taxi. I'm just not up to driving all the way to O'Hare Airport and fighting that heavy traffic in both directions on the interstate."
"How did he say he had made out in Spain?" George asked as he took a fast sip of his coffee. "Did Max accomplish everything that we had hoped for?"
"He told me that he was able to make copies of all the documents we had asked for and think we'll be needing," I answered. "Other than that, he didn't have a lot to say to me about it. I wasn't yet fully awake, so I didn't want to get into a long and drawn-out conversation with Max on the telephone. I think we should all get together here at my apartment on Saturday afternoon, and then we can go through everything in that he brought back with him from Spain.
"I'd also like to caution you and the others that from this point on we will all have to be extremely careful about what we say to anyone outside of our immediate group regarding what we are planning. If even the slightest hint of it leaks out to anyone else, we may find ourselves taking on some unwanted baggage."
"What kind of baggage might you be referring to Brad?" George asked as he looked at me quizzically.
"The kind that could negatively jeopardize our plan," I responded loudly and maybe a bit too briskly. "We have only the four of us in on this venture at the moment, and I want to be absolutely certain it stays that way. Even the mere suggestion of what we are all up to could possibly ruin everything for us, and our weeks of planning, hard work, and expense will all have been done for nothing."
"Darn it, Brad, I haven't said a single word to anyone," George quickly shot back at me defensively. "Not even a word of it to my sister Ellen, and there have been many times when she really pressured me to know what we were involved in. My many long absences from the house, those dozens of quiet telephone calls, and our many meetings were more than enough to start her womanly curiosity going. I've lied through my teeth to her at least a dozen times, but I know just how important strict secrecy is to us, so I said absolutely nothing. Not that she'd say anything about it to anyone anyway. Ellen is not a blabbermouth."
"I'm not making any kind of insinuations or accusations here, George," I said in a softer tone. "I'm just trying to emphasize the absolute need for us all to be extremely careful when talking to other people. If we're able to complete the plan by next weekend, I think we should be able to leave here the following Friday morning. I've marked that date in red pencil on my wall calendar—July the eighth. That will give all of us the three full weeks of our scheduled vacation time to try and get the job done. As we all agreed, and as far as anyone else knows, the four of us will be on a boat somewhere far north in Canada while enjoying a long earned and recently planned fishing trip."
"Let's just hope that we're not expected to bring back a batch of fish for our families and friends, otherwise, we'll have to make a visit to the local fish market on our way back home," George remarked with a fast wink and a grin.
"There's no doubt in my mind that we'll have to continue with the deceit for a while, even after we complete our project and return to Chicago," I responded. "Eventually, our deception will be uncovered and will be known to everyone. Providing we're successful in this difficult undertaking, I plan to notify the local newspapers and have them do a story about our venture. I'd also like to write a book about our quest at some later date but not until after things quiet down. That's one of the reasons I've decided to maintain a highly detailed diary beginning with our very first discovery in the old journal. As a matter of fact, I've already completed more than twenty pages of that manuscript, starting with my finding the book at that house sale."
"I really hate to abruptly end this interesting conversation, Brad, but I have to get going now," George said as he quickly stood up from the table and quickly glanced at his watch. "It's getting late, and I still have some grocery shopping to do for my sister. Then, sometime this afternoon, I have to take my car to the Midas Muffler Shop for a new muffler to be installed." With that, he immediately turned and headed for the door. "I'll see you on Saturday," he said to me over his shoulder, "but you'll have to call me to tell me what time we'll all be expected to arrive here for our meeting with Max. Good-bye, Brad!"
For some time after George left my apartment, I continued sitting at the kitchen table, sipping my lukewarm cup of coffee, and mulling over the events of the morning. Is it possible that it had been less than three months since that amazing discovery that started everything for us in motion? It hardly seemed possible to me that so very much had happened in that relatively short period of time. Yet the four of us were now very close to leaving the state for possibly the greatest adventure and excitement of our lives, or perhaps the most difficult and disappointing event of a lifetime. Slowly my mind began to drift back to that amazing discovery that sparked the four of us into the action that had developed into our present, somewhat tumultuous, situation.
The events began for me with a Saturday afternoon visit I made to a local house sale and my buying a very old and also interesting-looking, leather-bound book. I was just about to leave the house after looking through several rooms of dusty furniture, dishes, kitchen appliances, and other things of no particular interest to me when my eyes fell upon the book. It was lying in a corner of the living room on top of a desk. After picking the book up, I saw that it appeared to be quite old, and it was also in rather shabby condition. Its dark brown leather covering was badly faded and cracked along the spine in a couple of places. Carefully opening the fragile cover, I saw that its time-yellowed, rough pages were crudely handwritten in what appeared to me to be the Spanish language. After a fast appraisal of the book's contents, I guessed it to be a person's journal or possibly a personal diary of some kind or other. Unable to read or speak Spanish, I was not quite sure what it might be. Still, the book had a certain visual appeal to me; and I thought it should occupy a central space on my apartment's small bookshelf standing in my dining room.
When I approached the salesperson with the book in my hand, I asked her if she could give me any information about it, such as who the previous owner might have been or anything else she could possibly tell me about it. She told me that it was just one of several dozen very old books that had been left in the house's library, and it was the only one that had not been sold because of the extremely bad condition of its cover. After asking the price she was asking for the book, I learned that I could buy it for only five dollars. Pleased with my purchase, I left the house and returned to where my car was parked in a nearby lot. Sometime later that afternoon when I had finished some grocery shopping and returned to my apartment, I placed the book on the bookshelf; and for a while, I gave it a little more thought.
My name is Bradley Dean Mason, but most of my friends simply call me Brad. I'm a thirty-three-year-old divorced man, and I live in a small but rather comfortable townhouse, which is centrally located in Western Springs, Illinois. I had been married for about four years, but a little more than six years ago, my wife and I decided to end the marriage. Luckily, we didn't have any children, so the breakup of our marriage didn't create too much of a trauma for either of us.
Almost immediately after I had finished college at Southern Illinois University with a marketing degree, I went to work as a broker in some commodities trading office in The Chicago Board of Trade building. The office where I'm employed is located in the "Loop" section of downtown Chicago. My ex-wife Julia worked as a Junior Fashion Designer for one of the major clothing houses not too far from my office. Part of the reason for our divorce was because we had too few interests in common which eventually caused us to drift apart, each of us finally going our own way. I have to say that I've been enjoying my lifestyle as a bachelor since the breakup of our marriage. I'm especially enjoying the freedom I now have which allows me to do as I pretty darn well please. I know it probably sounds rather selfish of me, but I'm being very honest about it.
One of my three best and closest friends in the world is my first cousin George Mason, who is thirty-eight years old, and he is a bachelor like me. The difference is that George never was married, but he seems to always have a couple of girlfriends who hang around with him. George lives in Villa Park, Illinois, with his kid sister Ellen, who is also one of my closest cousins. George's house is located a relatively short drive from my house in Western Springs; therefore, I get to see a lot of him. Ever since my divorce, it seems that George and I spend a lot of time together: visiting our friends, hoisting a few beers at the local pub, eating meals at a couple of restaurants which we frequent, or at various sports events. George is an electronics engineer who owns his own television and stereo shop named "Flashtronics," which is located in a large and high-end shopping mall in Oakbrook, Illinois. George is probably one of the smartest people I've ever known. He is also someone I look up to and one I know that I can count on whenever I need help or advice in almost any matter.
Excerpted from Sunken Spanish Treasure Quest by Richard Joseph Johnson. Copyright © 2014 Richard Joseph Johnson. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing.
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